Wednesday, June 15, 2011

CREATING SHORT STORIES - 11: Other Characters

In addition to the characters in Creating Short Stories - 10: Bringing Characters to Life” fiction has one-dimensional characters, characters not fully developed, designed to serve a single purpose in a story. These might deliver some type of message the protagonist needs to know. It might be an individual creating some problem for the hero. Perhaps this character plants some omen of the future the central character will encounter if he or she pursues, or doesn’t pursue, the current course. Maybe the person will give some type of clue.

Unlike fully developed characters that merit full descriptions and backgrounds, these single-purpose individuals only require minor details: manor of dress, age, hair color, crustiness. The objective is to avoid boring the reader with a full psychological profile that means little to the story. It might look like the following:

Alfred numbs himself by thinking of the days at the beach on the North Shore of Long Island, the waves mesmerizing his mind, while he pores through the grizzly remains of the longhaired blonde (from 10) laying in scattered bits on the Miami beachfront. He wondered what type of lunatic had the incredible disregard for human life that he would inflict such havoc on this poor woman. He must be extremely strong.

The horror of the scene and the hideous stench forced him to stand and walk away from the body to get a lungful of fresh air. As he neared the street that ran parallel to the beach, he saw a woman drive up in a small sports car.

She stepped out of the vehicle and put her large hands in the small of her back to stretch. As she leaned back, the bikini covered little and revealed that she lifted weights. Her thighs contained massive muscle, as did her torso. Her arms appeared to be larger than almost any man he knew.

Immediately, Alfred rule out the men only suspect theory and revised his suspect pool to include strong women. From the condition of the body, there might have been two killers.

In that scene, Alfred discovers he needs to expend his thinking to solve this crime.

Another scenario:

The crusty old hag, dressed in what could only be considered funeral garb approached and pointed a crooked finger at Sam. “Beware the morning. Be gone from this town by then.”
Sam blinked rapidly. “Huh, are you talking to me?
“I speak to you. Leave before the morn, or you will regret it?
“What do you mean, old lady?”
“Remember my words, or you will regret, regret, regret,” she said as she walked into the dark night.

In that scene, the crusty old hag delivered a warning to Sam, one of the purposes for a one-dimensional figure in a story.
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