04 October 2011

What Dancing With The Stars and My Character Have in Common

So, if you haven't been paying attention to the latest in entertainment news (which probably means you don't have a television or you don't watch it much...which also probably means you are getting more writing done that I am) you probably heard about Nancy Grace being part of Dancing With the Stars.

You probably also heard about her horrifically, awful humiliating moment. To give you an idea, let me just say...when you are dancing, just make sure everything is all in it's place.

We've all had embarassing moments, and I'm sure we've all experienced awful wardrobe malfunctions (skirt tucked into the panty hose, anyone?). So, Nancy Grace is not the only person on the entire planet who has experienced this for the first time ever.

So why is it a big deal? Why am I blogging about it when I have sworn I will only blog about writing?

Because, for one thing, Nancy Grace -- to me -- has always represented a tough, intelligent woman who I may not always agree with, but I respect a lot. Beyond that, I have not really seen Nancy Grace in any other light but the one she portrays on her shows.

A little one-sided, sometimes, to be honest.

And when this awful moment happened to her, my opinion of Nancy Grace changed just a little bit. She became more human. More real. She no longer had that tough exterior up that no one can penetrate. We can all be made vulnerable, we can all be embarassed in some way, and this was her moment.

This came up during an interesting time, because I am developing my character for that writing project I have going on and I have already talked with you about my struggles with developing a well-rounded, real type of character that has flaws like everyone else. Well, when this moment happened to Nancy Grace, I realized something about character development.

The Nancy Grace we see on televison, of course, is not entirely who she is and I know that. But, much like your character -- being the real person they are, of course -- is not always who they portray themselves to be. Sometimes, surprises (both good and bad) can reveal an entirely new side to this person that you haven't had the opportunity to see before. Nancy Grace had her vulnerable moment where we all realized she is just as vulnerable to life's mishaps as the rest of us.

I began to think about this question...

What situation would reveal a new, or unique side to my character that maybe I don't even know about yet?

Because really, if you are spending an entire book with this character you want to really get to know them, right? So, you may not need to put your character through a wardrobe malfunction to see "another side" (literally, or figuratively), you may want to think about the unexpected moments we all go through in life that cause us to react at the moment, without thinking or preparing beforehand at all.

It's like that expression said by Maya Angelou, "I've learned that you can tell a lot about a person by the way she (or he) handles these three things: a rainy day, lost luggage, and tangled Christmas tree lights."

So, just think about that for a second...if your character was caught in a rainstorm, how would they react? Would they run under shelter until it passed? Would they start to cry? Run and scream in the streets? Share their umbrella with a stranger? Do they even have an umbrella?

And how about that lost luggage? Does your character get mad and yell at airline? Do they cry? Or does your character even bother with luggage? Do they just arrive at their destination with the shirt on their backs and thinking they will worry about it when they get there? Wouldn't that really say something about a person?
And christmas lights...come on, now, christmas lights? I mean, we wait all year for the season and you go into the storage closet and you realize that the entire collection of lights is in tangles? What would your character do? Laugh? Take the giant ball of light and just throw it on the roof? Go out and buy more?

These little unexpected moments can say so much about all of us, without even realizing it...

Did I mention I love this time of year? *evil laugh*

So, let me ask you this, how do you react to unexpected moments? How would your character react?
Umm...I hate to be a joy kill here, but don't watch the below video if you startle easy or have heart trouble...
Happy Halloween (and Happy Writing) Everyone!


  1. Nicole, I tend to know my characters so well that they argue with me about what I want them to say...now that's scary!

  2. Lila starts out passive but ends up being a reactor to her circumstances and is rather clummsy but accomplishes what she needs to get done.

    Contessa, is snooty, self-absorbed, and materialistic (She's just a waitress) but she loves her dog, Fred, and loves her boyfriend, Arthur (He's a vampire). There are times when she'll get her Pradas dirty for either one. Also, before she's bitten by Arhtur she's whisked away by another vampire that gives her a mission to save the humans.

  3. @J.L. Murphey - That's awesome!!!

    @shelly - I love your cast of characters!! I love the idea of Contessa being sort of an upscale kind of girl in love with a vampire (ah, I love those kinds of romances, don't you??)


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