Archive for November, 2012

No, I don’t mean alternate dimensions and how there’s likely another me out there that speaks Chinese and can actually juggle more than three things at a time. I’m talking about the different dimensions and layers of a character. I’ve read a lot of books (surprising, I know), and some of them had one dimensional characters. You there – the one with his hand raised. What do I mean by one dimensional characters? Well, if you’re following this blog or if you happened by this post, and read on past the Chinese part, you probably already know because you are either a writer or aspire to be one.

But I’ll continue on anyways for those that do not know. Basically, fictional characters do not start out as a single electron, or bodily fluid. They start out with a personality. Often times, they start out with one little emotion. Say, you are pissed because someone flipped you off at the subway. You get back home, and decide to write your luggage away. You start it with – oh, guess what, an angry guy. But you can’t just have an angry guy. Okay, he works at a dead end office job, he has an inferiority complex, is being forced to go to anger management classes, and likes women with red hair. Basically, one dimensional is if he is ONLY an angry guy, and he’s in a perpetual state of anger for no apparent reason. He has an inferiority complex and has a dead end office job. Boom, that is a reason for his anger.

He might also be angry because all the redheaded women he knows are either married or don’t have REAL red hair. He sounds rather creepy to me, but at least he’s not one dimensional. A lot of times, I’ve heard the mention of cardboard cut outs when describing one dimensional characters.

That normally means they are based on a trope. Okay, say we start an epic fantasy book. The protagonist is an orphan boy that gets bullied a lot, and he suddenly discovers he is the heir to the throne of the entire world. He travels to his soon-to-be kingdom, and he meets a very attractive wood nymph (with red hair) who introduces him to a wise old wizard. They set off, but they’re suddenly pounced by bandits. One of the bandits has a conscience, and realizes the orphan is cool, so he kills his comrades, and decides to protect the orphan boy. Sound familiar? It should. That is the plot of every badly written fantasy novel.

Those are cardboard cutouts. How does one make them more original? The wood nymph is a lesbian, and can’t speak. The bandit killed his comrades because they’d all received word that the heir to the throne would be traveling on the road and thought it would be good if they held him for ransom. The bandit kills them so he can get all the money for himself, but instead intends to guide him all the way to the palace so he can get a lot of gold for himself. The wizard hates the orphan boy, but he was banned from ever stepping foot into the kingdom, so he sets off with the orphan to find a way to redeem himself.

And the orphan boy… Yeah, the orphan boy dies halfway through and stuff happens. It’s really difficult to make an orphan boy any more original than that, to be honest.

So, what have you just learned, boys and girls? Just kidding. We all know boys don’t read. What have we learned men and girls?

-cricket sounds-

Yeah, well, I never liked you guys, either!

So, the moral of the lesson is that orphan boys should just wait to be adopted, and red headed wood nymphs should get their own happily ever afters. I bid you adieu!