author C.C.Cole's blog

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

On Taking On Character Traits

"Last of the Mohicans"

As we create our lead character in fiction, we’re creating someone we’re channeling most of our energy in, nearly betting it all, because in fiction, if the audience does not connect with the lead character, the story falls flat.  I hear about this most often in “method acting” when the actors “become” the characters in order to bring them to life on screen (looks difficult to me). 

In fantasy, do we writers daydream?  I hope so.  Because that’s what fantasy is, drummed up in our minds.  New exciting worlds, enchanting conflict, tension between human and non-human characters, and most often with some kind of protagonist/antagonist concept. 

But when we authors face our reality day-to-day, do we ever feel the traits we created in our characters?  Or did we keep their traits hidden inside, brought to the page, and now feel bolder to expose the alter ego depending on real-life challenges? 

Obviously the above can lead to destructive and even dangerous behavior, so certainly I don’t suggest fantasy writers take on the negative traits of even protagonist characters.  In life, sometimes we feel like we have antagonists, but the complexities of reality reach far beyond any fantasy.   If I thought I was Shevata for a day…let’s not think about such things.  That level of destruction should stay where it is, inside the mind.

Can our fantasy writing ever help us through the tough realistic times?  I think so.  We writers don’t need to pretend we’re someone else for our work.  I like to think about the world I’ve created and of other stories I’ve read.  Creative outlets help relieve stress, and if nothing else, my expanded reading helps my verbal vocabulary.  When I’m cornered professionally, these days I have a verbal answer with “teeth” (no biting) that makes sense, instead of defensiveness.  Professionals need that ability in any field.

Writers, your work is your strength, on and off the page.  Our work is part of us.  While I think it’s a bit far-fetched to go around acting out my character, as I’m not an actor by trade, still our characters we create give something back to us during the times we least expect.  Though limited to our minds, that’s still enough to give us strength when we need it.

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