Juxtaposition of Characters

I embraced the middle aged woman with cats stereotype when I bought this mug designed by Joyce Shelton in the Kelowna airport. It sports the truism 'dogs have owners, cats have staff' (I should have been a cat because I'd like to have staff, if only to do nothing more than clean out my cats' ears - too much information, right?!).

The mug got me thinking about stereotypical characters and the bipolar juxtaposition of characters (writers, eh!? who else thinks about these things?). Bipolar juxtaposition of characters can be seen in just about every sit-com (or drama for that matter). The brainy red-head with glasses, her dim blond bombshell sister and their mischievous brother. Stereotypes? One Dimensional? Stock characters? Sure! 

But on the other hand you need characters to be different. Go to any prison office, group therapy session family function or confined space like an airport or the department of motor vehicles and you are going to find characters that are different - vastly different. Yet they need to be believable, fully formed characters reacting to the situation you've created.

In any family or work situation, not only do you have a diversity of people with their foibles and talents, you have a room full of people who have histories with each other - baggage, kindred spirits, alliances formed, broken or mended.  

Mine each character (no matter how stereotypical on the surface) for the depths of his/her nuances and show the character through his/her reaction to others.

How do you put flesh on your characters? 

Watch the sit-com The Big Bang Theory - a show that takes characters beyond the stereotypes - while I fill my mug with milky tea and put on my bunny slippers ...

P.S.: I would have embedded a clip from the show but I think I broke you tube - I can't get any videos to load. You'll have to do something old fashioned like watch TV!



Ah, the crazy cat lady writer! We must all embrace it!
Jan Markley said…
You're re right Samantha - there's a bit of the crazy cat lady writer in all of us!