17 May On Characters
Recently, someone commented to me that it was “amazing how I stay so true to my characters”. That comment was borne from the Mother’s Day short I posted, featuring Carter and Viv, who I haven’t revisited in …. a year and half? Something like that.
I appreciated this, (and promptly hit the like button and proceeded to act like it never happened because i’m awkward and bad at accepting compliments) because as i’ve blogged before, staying true to my characters is something that’s SUPER important to me.
But I don’t know that I would call it hard.
The difficulty is, I guess, in putting these people down on the page in a way that properly reflects their realness in my head. Like, it’s easy to “see” them, but conveying them…. is another thing all together.
Staying true is the easy part, because they’re real to me.
Jason and Reese are the princess and the mechanic. They’re smart, and smart-mouthed, Jason is a little gritty, Reese is a little sharp tongued. And they’re funny, and fun. Jason has real physical scars that don’t hold him back, has experienced the world at a pretty young age, and has developed a broader perspective from it. He uses “nigga” and drops “g’s”, but will talk literature and engineering with you. Reese is still dealing with a personal loss, that she may never be “over”, that she might always need to cope with. But she still has a desire to live, and help others live, and teach people how to authentically share their words.
Because nobody is any one way.
Devyn and Joseph, nurse and doctor. Career-driven, compassionate, bright. Joseph is a simple guy – a good balance for Devyn, who has a little more happening, and Devyn is warmer, almost bubbly. Compliments Joseph, who can be a touch uptight. Joseph doesn’t have any deep personal trauma that he’s still navigating – he channeled the loss of his mother into honoring her through his work…. and he still lusts after a fat ass and a cute smile. Devyn has internalized, normalized a certain treatment by men, and has to work through that. The two of them have to deal with an unexpected responsibility being thrust on them, and in turn… kinda rush into a relationship.
Because shit happens, and we deal.
Toni and Justin – this fall – are besties. Or, were. My author and my publishing professional. I’m still figuring them out, but I know their chemistry as friends is nuts. They love 90s R&B, and did a talent show together as “dark skinned baby girl” and “not quite Ginuwine.” I know they have a playful set of rules they’d developed together. I know they desperately want their friendship back… and might discover more. I know they both have to navigate their changing roles with their aging parents, and learn how to coparent, and all of that.
Because they’re human.
Fictional or not.
So, the characters do their jobs. They reveal themselves, their TRUE selves to me, and I take it seriously every time. I’m super serious about my craft, super serious about my work, super serious about my people. I may not write any certain way, or tackle certain topics, or do a certain word count, whatever, but i’m SERIOUS about these characters.
And I so, SO appreciate that it can be seen.