Revolutionary Characters

revolution characters

In this Character Series post we’ll be exploring:

  1. The appeal of innocent characters
  2. The pitfalls of fickle characters and
  3. Disappointing character arcs.

Whether by it’s strengths or its weaknesses, Revolution will teach us how to improve our writing skills in the 3 character points above.

In watching the first season of the TV series Revolution, I noticed first the appeal of having innocence in your characters–and secondly the importance of keeping that innocence, or sympathy.

Sympathetic Characters Appeal to Readers

Right off the bat we are led to follow Charlie. She is young and naïve in the brutal ways of the world outside her little agrarian village. One of the things that makes her so appealing and likable right off the bat, and for pretty much the first half of the season, is her misguided naïve belief that there simply has to be good people everywhere, and that everyone has some good in them.

charlie matheson

We as viewers (readers if this were a book) instantly find her appealing for this very reason. We know she is mistaken, and so we are just waiting with rapt attention for the moment when she realizes this, knowing full well that this revelation will hit her hard. And of course, when that moment comes, we feel for her. Kudos to the writers so far.

But then, when she is finally forced to face the hard truth that not everyone is good, and that even she has bad in her, it’s not long before she loses her baby-faced naiveté and abandons all her appeal. She is forced to kill someone. Though she reels from this, she then kills again soon after, and with almost no compunction this time. Suddenly she is fine with killing, a battle-hardened warrior who no long hopes to see good in everyone. In the (whiplash-swift) process she becomes a different character. I suppose some people may like the warrior girl who is not afraid to make the hard choices, but the character arc shifted far too quickly to be believable and MOST IMPORTANTLY Charlie failed to retain any of the innocence that made her likeable—forcing viewers to decide if they like this new character. Naturally there will be some who do, but the writer’s decision here suggests they were

  1. Impatient to conjure a new character or
  2. Perhaps they didn’t like their original creation. Either way, they disrespect their viewers by disregarding established character traits. This is a writer’s mistake, as it will inevitably alienate much of your viewership.

The Pitfalls of Fickle Characters Continue reading “Revolutionary Characters”

Finding Your Niche: How to Write Great Characters

ellen ripley holding newt

At some point in your writing career you will begin to notice your strengths and weaknesses.

Your Writing Niche is Your Key to Success 

You can work on your weaknesses. But at the end of the day your writing niche is what you should be primarily focused on improving, where it concerns your writing, anyway. Your niche is your strength, the feature of writing at which you excel above others.

Some writers excel at crafting intricate, well-laid-out plots. Others are masters at creating tension. Some authors know how to include twists, taking the reader down unexpected avenues. Best-selling novelists like J.K. Rowling know how to create fascinating worlds. A few, like Brandon Sanderson are masters at designing original magic-systems. And there are those authors, like Stephen King, who don’t place much stock in plot because they know they are masters at creating engaging characters.

pretty girl reading in a field

Discover Your Niche

It has taken time but I have come to believe that my strength, my niche, lies in character development.

I love thinking up unique characters, introducing them in exotic or unexpected ways, and developing them through action and interaction. So I’m going to begin a blog series covering all things ‘character’. We’ll focus on:

  • Creation
  • Introduction
  • Arcs
  • Development
  • And the more subtle (and oft-neglected but still essential) areas such as peccadilloes, quirks, unpredictability, and likeability.

We’ll have some fun with it.

deadpool and teenage

We’ll explore these fascinating arts of writing through an exploration of great characters in literature, history, TV shows and movies. Hopefully some of the examples and insights and strengths that I have learned and been taught will prove interesting to you and useful in your own developing career.

To commence this exciting series let’s see what Revolution has to offer us (because I just finished watching it and freshness is next to godliness . . . or is that something else?), and then we’ll jump into LOST, which is a master class in character introduction, creation, and arc.

Character can make or break a book, so developing your skills in this writing asset is key to developing your career. Here at buckelsbooks we’ll discover and learn to employ and master the techniques used by best-selling authors. Looking forward to taking this journey with you.

Hope to see you next time!

The Protest Emporium: A Question About the President

On Monday, Guy of Guy Morley’s Protest Emporium opened an active line of query in his Protest Requests Chat Line. It read precisely like this:

‘Do you sell ‘Not My President’ t-shirts?’

Though he liked to think he kept abreast of every current flavor protest, this was a new one by Guy. He typed: ‘I can create almost any text on a t-shirt, but I like to know exactly where my customers are coming from. Would you mind telling me which president is not yours? Is it the French president? The president of Mexico?’ This last one seemed the most likely candidate, given the current state of things.

‘No’ the user returned. ‘The American president. He’s not my president. He’s a despicable klod.’

Guy wasn’t entirely sure what a klod was, but he thought he was beginning to understand. This customer must be a foreigner. He tapped back: ‘Might I ask where you live, then?’ He didn’t like to cater to foreigners when they so clearly hated the United States.

‘No, I from Kentucky, bro! This guy is not my president.’

‘Okay,’ Guy tried. ‘Has Kentucky by any chance seceded from the United States?’

‘What? No man! I just want me some ‘not my president’ shirts. Can u do it or not?’

‘Well, yes. I can do it.’

‘Good then. Jeezalou!’

‘Are you an American resident?’

‘What the heck kind a question is that? R u insultin me, man? Course I’m an American, I just done said I live in Kentucky. So will you make my shirts or what?’

‘I don’t believe I will,’ Guy typed out.

‘What the sam hill does that mean?’

In his comfy office chair, Guy sighed before typing a response. ‘Look, I don’t think we’re seeing eye-to-eye here. Perhaps you could explain to me exactly how the American president is not your president, when you confess to be an American citizen, currently residing in America, and this man is the standing American president?’

‘#!+k! Suma#^%&@. I don’t like the guy. He’s mentally unfit fascist idiot! HENCE HE IS NOT MY PRESIDENT! Send me the blasted shirts!’

‘Okay,” Guy said. ‘Now that we have that cleared up and you have told me who your president is not, I’ll strike a deal with you. I will make your shirts, if you can tell me who your president is.’

Several minutes passed by. Guy heard his assistant, Jimmy the Stock Boy, answering a question out on the sales floor: “Sorry, we’re all out of ‘It’s my body placards. A Right To Life group came in and bought the whole stock.”

Finally a ping dinged from his computer. The user had responded at last to Guy’s query. It was a simple if clichéd response and it resolved the issue quite nicely.

It read: ‘FU’

Later that day Guy asked Jimmy if he had ever heard of ‘Not my President’

“Course,” Jimmy replied. “It’s kind of a thing right now. Hey, I bet there might be a market for t-shirts, you know, that say ‘Not my President’ on them.” He grinned and returned to work, helping a woman locate the #metoo bumper stickers.

There Must Be Something to this Protest Thing

I created Guy Morley and his Protest Emporium as a sort of ribbing to the shocking number of protests and marches and riots we’ve seen these past couple of years. It’s a good writing prompt and I believe it’s important, in these serious times, to have a little fun with tense subjects, man. There must be something to it, because readers seem to like these Protest Emporium posts. So thank you, and keep protesting . . . whatever steams your biscuits.