On Developing Characters: Who Does Your Character Go To When...?
Everyone needs someone, even your imaginary friends... I mean, um, characters. Part of developing characters is knowing who they turn to in good, bad, boring times. The laugh-inspirers, personal cheerleaders, the people she can be stupid with, the ones to take tubing (or whatever floats your, um, tubes). Family, friends, co-workers, whatever--your character has a pool from which to pull her peeps. Peeps are human comfort food. Wait, does that sound weird? Don't eat your peeps.
“Home Alone is a movie, not an alibi.” ~ Detective Briscoe, played by Jerry Orbach in Law and Order (He’s my TV version of comfort food)
Hurricane Florence got me thinking about my peeps. My family of four has evacuated us to two of our peeps--Uncles Michael and Andy--for over a week. So, there are six of us plus one dog, Brownie, living in a typical two-person, pet-free household. Things could be crazy.
Crazy, like the pizza scene in Home Alone. Kevin's cheese pizza is gone, his older brother teases him, and his younger cousin will definitely pee in the bed they’re supposed to share. It's no surprise when Kevin lets his rage get away from him, and the shit hits the fan. His uncle yells at him, “Look what you did, you little jerk!”
A week into our evacuation (and counting) and everything’s as harmonious as the day we arrived. Our peeps have taken our minds off what could be happening at our house with no electricity and trees strewn across roads. We've felt perfectly at home (or they're really good actors, hard to tell). There are no awkward, angry pizza scenes in this house! We’ve all just fit together.
A family's usually the first place to look for peeps--though maybe Kevin should branch out when he gets older. Some of his family members edge a delicate line into intolerable.
The good news is that peeps can come from anywhere--they are the family one chooses.
Here are some general questions to get started:
Who does your MC choose to spend time with? And why? What's so special about them?
Who would she take on vacation with zero hesitations? (Seriously, I don't think the McAllister family really thought this through)
Who would she evacuate to in the event of a plumbing emergency, bug problem, or hurricane?
How might her peeps influence, help, comfort her, or sometimes... hurt her?
Who does she cry to, go to with her biggest problems and worst confessions?
Here are some more pointed questions to bring this mysterious BFF to life in your writer's playground (that is, your head):
Who could your MC share a blanket with while watching a movie without it being weird?
Who knows how your MC takes his coffee? Or tea? Or mixed drink?
Who would your MC call in the middle of the night if having a panic attack?
Your MC has just heard the stupidest, most hilarious joke. She can't wait to tell ______.
Your MC keeps this product _____ (Craft Beer, Hot Sauce, Peppermint Tea, Sugar-Free Hazelnut Coffee Creamer) on hand, just in case _______ stops by, and she usually does, most nights.
What does your MC's BFF tell your MC that she doesn't want to hear but knows is true? (Hint: Could also be your story's main conflict)
Sometimes, proximity leads us to our peeps, but it's more than that when we stay in those relationships. Figuring out your MC's circle means understanding your MC better, and BFF sidekicks always help move a story along, anyway.
Tell us about your character's peeps below in the comments.
Need more writing ideas? Check out www.coffeebrained.com
Maybe get a cup of coffee first... or tea.