DEVELOPING CHARACTER – to cook, sing or do the Fandango?

After working for the past few weeks on a really dark period in my MC (main character’s) life, we are almost ready for him to emerge out the other side.

Looking back, I can’t help but shake the feeling that this time, I have been just a tad too mean to him. I know what you’re thinking…”You’re just a bit softy”. And of course, you’re right. I’m pretty sure that the whole world knows by now that I am truly pathetic when it comes to being mean to my main character – but I force myself to do it anyway.

This time however, I think I need to follow my instincts. It’s not that I’ve gone too far – it’s just that there has to be light and shade.

My story is true to life – it’s sort of based on something that actually happened – but it definitely needs some light relief.

So, this is my quandary! I think the lightness has to come from my MC. He is the one who needs to have some fun. He is the one who needs a trait/a quality/a goal that’s going to create humour – that’s going to provide the colour and light.

At first I thought he might want to create the biggest ever Crockenbush, but as teenage son pointed out, who even knows what a Crockenbush is?

Then I thought he could harbour secret desires to sing in a heavy metal band. Perhaps he could dance the Fandango or be someone who can spin 43 times on his head without getting dizzy (but then as a parent all I could think of was the cost of the physiotherapist bills – and possible brain damage).

Sigh…oh well, back to the drawing board, the computer screen, the meditation tent, the walking of the dog, the eating of chocolate…whatever it takes to get the creative juices working.

Of course my MC and I would welcome your input/suggestions.



14 thoughts on “DEVELOPING CHARACTER – to cook, sing or do the Fandango?

  1. I need to know… what is a crockenbush? Maybe MC could walk into a pole while his attention is distracted by the worlds biggest crockenbush! Slamming into a pole is always funny!

  2. Trudie, Crockenbush is the Australian version of Croque-en-bouche which is a cake thingy (used in weddings I think) made of pastry puffy things that are dipped in caramel sauce and then piled up…and up…and up. Kind of like a pile of caramel coated cream puffs. I thought maybe my MC could be aiming to make the biggest one in history, but when I ran the idea past teenage son, it kind of fell flat like a pancake – or a badly made Croque-en-bouche:-)

    Walking into poles is always good for a laugh….as long as you’re not the one doing it:-)


  3. Thanks, Karen….it’s definitely sink or swim with all the challenges I’m throwing up for him:-)


  4. What about he leaves his glasses in the oddest places? and tries to come up with a solution.
    Or much to his disgust, he knows the words of all the songs in ‘The Sound of Music’ (his sister has a craze on the movie and plays the soundtrack constantly). How can he stop hearing the phrases ‘favourite things’ or ‘going on 17’ without breaking out into a song. lol šŸ™‚ sorry, having a giggle here just thinking of it. Sounds a bit … you know.

  5. Ummm… teenage male thing?? Does it have to be an exotic dessert – or could he make… the worlds biggest handburger stack? Or… something on the BBQ could be good…

    Hmmm… (Thinking, thinking) I know that puff pastry, when left at room temperature to defrost (because that’s what you logically would do – right?) becomes a sticky, stretchy unco-operative MESS! (Which is not what you’re desiring when you’re trying to demonstrate to 8 year-olds how to make an easy-peasy, no fail, sausage pie! The same sausage pie that they would go home to cook for their parents…)

    I can see your MC getting into all sorts of strife with puff pastry because I KNOW the strife you can get into, especially when observed by one (hysterical) teacher aide and 24 giggling kids.

    Perhaps I should just mention that I never was a Home Ec teacher… And my family isn’t starving!

  6. Thanks for your suggestion, Kat – puff pastry definitely has possibilities. Don’t worry, I was never a Home Ec teacher either…and I’m sure your family isn’t starving:-)


  7. Promise you’ll be the first to read it, Sue – after my writing buddies have helped me polish the ms to a lustrous sheen:-) Thanks, writing buddies…you know who you are:-)


  8. Hi Dee,

    First up, if that crockenbush thing is the same as those towers of profiteroles that people make, it’s not puff pastry, it’s choux pastry. Do it in puff pastry and your MC will have a soggy mess. šŸ˜¦

    Second thing. I have an idea for your lighten up moment, but naturally it’s my thinking and not yours like it needs to be. But there’s probably something for you in my experience.

    Ironically, I edited out a ‘lighten up’ food moment when I was finalising ‘They Told Me I Had To Write This’. It formed part of a whole theme that was removed to streamline the story. How it fitted into that theme might help you.

    I’ve done some thinking since reading your post. Here’s the stuff.

    It’s not only the action that that MC does, it’s the environment in which he does it that will produce the results. Let’s stick with the crockenthing.

    Scenario 1. He makes this piled up tower of sweet stuff because his lovely old Nana is visiting.

    Scenario 2. He makes it for a big family Xmas party where it is one of many such foody extravaganzas.

    Scenario 3. He takes it to a rave party.

    Which environment is going to best suit the character, the plot, the readership, the anything else?

    And that’s it for me. Hope it’s a good christmas for you.

  9. Dee, I had exactly this dilemma recently. I have quite an anxious protag and was worried he was becoming a bit unlikable or annoying. You need a balance of traits – like you said: light and shade. Hope you find the perfect one!

  10. Thanks for your thoughts, Kim – and you are absolutely correct; it is supposed to be choux pastry:-)

    You are also right about the other point you made that the action has to relate to the environment. I have the environment and the character, so it’s a matter of deciding on the trait and subsequent actions. Food certainly seems to feature strongly in people’s suggestions. And surprisingly (lol) doing the Fandango has not been a big hit.

    Thanks for your input, Kim. It seems that Rick has made his decision.

    Hope you have a wonderful Christmas too, and wishing you all the very best with your writing in 2010.


  11. Thanks, Kath,

    That’s exactly the dilemma – finding the balance between people having sympathy for your character’s plight – and losing patience with him for being a walking disaster zone:-)

    Think I might have found the balance.


Comments are closed.