Wednesday, April 27, 2011

The Character

Moving along this week with our writing exercise... what did you do with your dog(s)?

Obviously, as a writer, you need to be able to tell the story from some perspective; usually through the hero/ine's eyes. That is sometimes considered POV (point of view) and we'll discuss that later. Right now we want get to know who our main character(s) will be.

We have a dog, well, really two dogs, so this is going to be an animal story. Hey, just go with the flow.

Dog 1. I stated last week that he was a mongrel, a canine familiar with the streets. So what kind of mixed breeds do we want toss together? How about a mix of long-haired shepherd and Char Pei -- yeah, a lovely dog with the stately build of a shepherd but with the wrinkly, extra skin hidden under a gorgeous coat of light brown hair. He's even got a nice, plumed tail and brown eyes that suck you in so quick you don't even realize it. Yup. That's our hero. And, like all good heroes, he's got to have a great name so we'll call him Fozzie Bear, or just Fozz for short.

Dog 2. This one will be the female; the love interest. And like any female worth going after, she has class. Yes, this dog will be a registered pedigree. She is a gorgeous American Eskimo, all white, fluffy and quite the prancer. Of course, she will have an exotic name: Natashia, but we'll call her Tasha for short. Being pedigree, she will be the family dog and therefore will have a beautiful purple collar with white and pink rhinestones. Every girl deserves bling.

See how quickly I have created my characters. Of course, there will be other characters in this story. A house dog always has neighbors and Tasha will have two friends; a beagle named King and a poodle named Antoinette -- after all, you need somebody with an accent.

Our street hero, Fozz, now he has the street gang and it is a very large group and they will have some extremely colorful names. We'll get to them later as we decide what is going to happen.

Of course, with animal stories there has to be humans involved. The owners of Tasha are a lovely young couple named Craig Smiles and his beautiful bride, Jennifer Smiles. They own a two story colonial home and Tasha is their pride and joy. Newlyweds... sigh.

And Fozz is not without his human counterparts either. The local butcher, Leo and two of the finest restaurants in the neighborhood; La Italia and Maxine's. I'm sure you see the characters already in your mind's eye. Leo is a nice, rotund man and ... would you believe, his brother, Mario, is the owner of La Italia. Now Maxine is owned by none other than Maxine and she is not a pushover type gal; nope, she's got spunk.

Now we need a villain. Who could that possibly be? Enter the dog-catcher. Oh, wait, that is so cliche. Okay, we'll add a couple more: a mother-in-law, a cat (maybe 2) and some sort of vermin.

I'm sure your mind has already created a colorful image of the mother-in-law and probably some cartoonish image of the dog-catcher. The cats will be finicky Persians and I'm still not sure about the vermin aspect... that can wait a while.

Just how strong do your characters need to be? A wimpy character means a wimpy tale. Your characters need to come alive, be bigger than life and grab the reader and hold them at the edge of their chair. Fozz will be a strong dog, a fearless leader and totally incorrigible, while Tasha will be the demure d├ębutante, the overly protected waif. King the beagle is a hunter and Antoinette is so French and so prissy.

I don't want to boggle your mind too much so more next week. We're just getting started on characters. After all, they are the mainstay of your story.

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