A to Z Challenge 2013

Monday, March 1, 2010

Blog Chain - Are You Writing Large?

Normally you wouldn't be seeing two blog chain posts in a row. But for the first time, I am the lucky individual who gets to start things off. Let me tell you, I put in the time on this one. I went through every question my fellow chainers have asked over the past year, just to make sure I didn't repeat a topic. That was probably a mistake too, because there have been some really awesome questions. I have to say, it's a little daunting to be in the company of such fine individuals.

In any event, I racked my brains for a while and came up with the following question:

Do you create characters that are larger-than-life or are your characters more like the average Joe?

First off, when I think larger-than-life, I think of people who are exceptionally talented. The hunky knight who's 6'5", 250 lbs of muscle, saves the damsel without getting his armor smudged, and brings about the sunrise just by staring at the horizon. Okay, that's a little overdone, but hopefully you get the idea.

With regards to my own writing, I generally choose characters that are average Joes. This is probably because I really enjoy exploring the capability of people, their ability to adjust to unexpected circumstances, and how average people can come out on top even when things look impossible. Despite how dark some of my writing gets, I'm probably the eternal optimist.

The other aspect I like about the average person is how realistic they can be. This depends on the genre of course, but if you put an average person into any circumstances, there is a story waiting to be told. How does this person deal with conflict? Do they fall in love with someone who is unattainable? Do they have the quirks that can impede their success as much as further their progress? Add to this the fact that the average Joe needs to struggle to overcome larger-than-life problems and you have a tale really worth telling.

The problem with larger-than-life characters is that sometimes it's too easy for them. Their abilities allow them to do things that others can't. While this might be more exciting, it lacks the drama of the average Joe trying to succeed similarly. All of this is not to say that I don't enjoy larger-than-life characters when I read or watch a movie. But with my own characters, it's rare that they are anything other than average (at least when the tale begins).

Finally, it needs to be said that I don't always choose my characters. More often, they choose me. There are a whole host of average characters out there looking for me, waiting for me to tell their tale. Almost like stalkers. Kind of creepy, when you think about it. Anyway, all I know is that I will be more likely to tell Gulliver's Travels than Rambo.

What type of characters do you create?

Now that I've given my take on it, I'll pass the virtual torch to Kat. Stop by her page and see how she answers this one.


Danyelle said...

*thinks* I really don't create my characters, they come to me usually fully formed. Some are average, some incredibly talented. But all of them have specific challenges to meet that challenge their abilities and insecurities to the fullest. :)

Cole Gibsen said...

Great question! I write YA paranormal and I really wanted to challenge myself to have a character that had no special powers - who wasn't "chosen" in any way. It was a lot of fun and made things so much more interesting.

Anonymous said...

Oh dang, your posts always get me thinking! I have to agree, my characters usually choose me. However, I'm super picky when I name them because it has to fit the bill just right.

Abby Annis said...

I think my characters end up somewhere in the middle. They start out as average Joes (or Janes ;)) but I'm always compelled to give them some kind of super ability. Maybe I'll challenge myself to write someone a little more average. Great post!

Don't know if you're aware, but this post is dated Jan 1, so it's not coming up at the top of your blog. When I first clicked over to read it, I thought maybe you'd removed it.

Eric said...

Danyelle - I get what you mean. Were I to think about it more, I don't really create them either I guess. It's a discovery process that I go through, finding out who they are.

Cole - Woohoo, I'm so glad you thought so this was a good question. I really did want to do well on my first time around. Your idea though sounds really cool. I may have to try that.

Sara - Heh heh, glad I got you thinking. I won't even get started on names though, because that is a topic that kicks my butt every time. I really am not good at naming anything.

Abby - Thanks for the heads up. I posted it at like 6 am, after not getting much sleep. But I had written it yesterday, so nothing came out right as far as the date was concerned. Let me know how it goes if you are able to write something like that though.

Kat Harris said...

Crud. Am I really up next? :-)

I like this topic Eric. I look forward to answering.

Sandra said...

This should be an interesting question to answer!

I think even larger-than-life characters have to have some flaws; otherwise, they're not interesting.

Karen Amanda Hooper said...

Somehow my favorite characters end up being my secondary characters. I don't know how or why. They seem to be my LTL peeps. My MCs are usually more average.

Nisa said...

This is such a great question! Nice pick! I think I write larger than life characters because of their magical abilities, BUT the key is making sure that they have weaknesses as well. They might be able to move things with their minds or whatever (technically I don't have a character that can do that...), but giving them an angry streak or a passion for something that drives them off course really leads them back to being average joes.

Shaun Hutchinson said...

Awesome question! And I like your answer too.

B.J. Anderson said...

I love this question! And you have a very good take on the topic. I agree that people who have it too easy are not very fun to write about.

Sarah Bromley said...

I enjoyed this question quite a bit, and your answer gives some nice insights. All these people lined up, following you around-it is creepy, but maybe it's good to know you're not the only one with this problem. :-)

Kate Karyus Quinn said...

Really great question! I too am a fan of average joe's - the too perfect hero is really not my bag at all.