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Facebook Time-Sucks and Character Development

marieYesterday I got sucked into a Facebook game.

The status update I commented on said “Comment on my post, and I will give you a Disney character that reminds me of you! You then find a picture of that character to post on your wall.” The person whose post I commented on gave me Marie, the kitten from The Aristocats, because she said I’m “cute and sassy.”

So, as these games go, I was then compelled to post a picture of Marie with the same instructions, and give Disney characters to all my friends who commented.

A little while after I posted it, after I’d given characters to a handful of friends, one person said, “Bet you’re sorry you made this post, huh? You’re never going to get anything done today.”

She was not wrong. I spent a great deal of time thinking about and commenting on this silly post. Of course, that’s not the ONLY thing I got done. I had some other things on my agenda and I accomplished what I set out to accomplish, but I still spent considerably more time than I anticipated on defining my friends as Disney characters.

It’s a lot harder than it sounds, especially since a lot of characters are wussy or evil. I actually put a lot of thought into each one, thinking about what I knew and liked about each person, and then trying to come up with a character that fit those qualities. There were several people who I thought could’ve been the same character, perhaps different qualities of the same, and so on, but I never used the same one twice, and I really considered each person and each character to find a match, wracking my brain for Disney movies I hadn’t seen in decades.

Toward the end of the thread, one person asked, “How do you come up with this stuff?” and another commented, “You have apparently studied the character development of Disney characters to an alarming degree!”

That got me to thinking. It’s not so much that I’ve studied Disney characters as it is that I’ve studied characters. One of my biggest struggles as a writer is making characters come alive on the page, making them unique and interesting, likeable and believable. Disney has managed over the years to create hundreds of different characters, main characters and sidekicks and villains, all with their own unique attributes, no two alike. So, in thinking about all these characters and what makes them individual and distinctive, I got to thinking about my own characters, and what it’s like to be them. What makes them special? What defines them? What characteristics and attributes make them who they are? If someone were to assign an Avily Jerome character to their friends, what would they come up with? Would there be enough material to assign a different, unique, well-rounded character, with strengths and flaws and quirks, to every friend who commented?

No. Not at this point. Disney has had a lot of years and a lot of writers to come up with theirs. But, it’s something to strive for.

What about you? How do you make your characters unique and interesting, tangible even after a reader puts the book down?

 

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About Avily Jerome

Avily Jerome is a writer and the editor of Havok Magazine. Her short stories have been published in various magazines, both print and digital. She has judged several writing contests and is a writing conference teacher and presenter. She writes speculative fiction, her ideas ranging from almost-real-world action/adventures to epic fantasies to supernatural thrillers.

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