We had a minor kitchen accident yesterday that tied me up for the evening. So my e-zine is now overdue and I’ve been trying all day to get caught up and I’m still behind. I finally decided I’ll just blog tonight and finish the durned e-zine tomorrow.
We’ve been talking about creating characters for the last week or so, and it’s about time to wrap up. I’d like to respond to a few of the comments that have been posted here that I haven’t yet answered yet:
I guess if I had a question about characters, it would be regarding the difference between internal voice and dialogue voice for any given character. If you have a character that was raised on the streets or in a slum and speaks with a lot of slang and bad grammar and the like, I’m assuming you don’t want to write the narrative that way when you’re in the character’s pov. I’ve also heard not to overdo slang and such, even in dialogue because it’s hard for the reader to pick through. Yet, how do you give such a character a voice if you can’t write the words the way he/she would think/say them? How do you differentiate between the country boy, the kid from the slums and the scholar?
Randy sez: Oh, you should definitely write the words the way your character says them. Just be sure you spell them correctly.
Jim Bob sez: Out here in the country, we writes ’em the way we says ’em, and that’s just a fact. But we still spells the varmints correct, because it ain’t right to make us look like a bunch of tom-fool hicks who can’t spell nothin’ right.
Yoda sez: Right it is to the words write right. Wrong it is to the words wrong spell. Twisted let your syntax be, but your spelling never.
Throckmorton B. Sniffleheimer XXIII sez: We of the Harvard school agree ontologically, epistemically, and nonadversarially with these uncouth, non-Harvard persons. It is of utmost importance that word choices and syntactic structuralist principles should play the principal role in enabling the predicated reader to deconstruct the regional proclivities of the characters, even those with unfortunate non-Harvard existential modalities.
One question: how do men deal with guilt, as a rule? Can it haunt them until it will not stay neatly in its compartment and spills out at inconvenient times?
Randy sez: As a rule, men don’t behave uniformly, any more than women do. You’ll find that, on average, men tend to be a bit less introspective than women, but there are plenty of guys who carry a heavy load of guilt, just as there are plenty of women who don’t give a flip about guilt. So write the character the way you want him to be, but keep him consistent.
D.E. Hale wrote:
Ok, my MC is also a male, but what I want to know is how do men think? It’s not often in the story that he actually sits still long enough to think about much of anything, but there is one part where he’s been imprisoned and therefore has a while to contemplate all that’s happened. Would a man think about all the bad things that have happened, or would he just ignore his feelings and concentrate on getting out of there? Sorry guys, but I KNOW you have feelings in there somewhere whether you show it or not. But how much thinking do you actually do about things bothering you?
Randy sez: Similar comments apply here. By the way, on average, men tend to do more “thinking” and less “feeling”. But that is an average tendency, and there are plenty of men who “feel” and women who “think”.
A useful tool to use in developing your characters is the Myers-Briggs profile. There are four axes:
Introvert vs Extravert
Intuitive vs Sensor
Thinker vs Feeler
Perceiver vs Judger
This leads to 16 different personality profiles. Men and women tend to be similar on three of these axes. About 2/3 of men are Thinkers and 1/3 are Feelers. About 2/3 of women are Feelers and 1/3 are Thinkers.
Maybe Randy would let a couple of us girls post a snippet of our male internal monologue and tell us what’s right & wrong about it. Subtle hint.
Randy sez: Good thing that was subtle or I’d have missed it. Yeah, sure, go ahead ladies! If you want to post a sample of male interior monologue, do so. But you should also tell us a little about your character, because there are all different kinds of men, and they don’t all think exactly alike.