Monday, 8 August 2011

WoW - Character Analysis

Write On Wednesdays

When saw that this week’s exercise was a character analysis it should have been
perfect really. I have an on-going story with one main character and two, that so
far, are only really alluded to.

I could expand on Rock Chick, tell you who she is and what makes her the person
she is. Or, I could choose one of the other characters and explain where they
come in, who they are and why they are so important to her.

Here’s the difficult bit. All the characters are based on real people.

How do you do a character analysis on a real live person? It seems a little
arrogant. The potential is to make assumptions based on your own perceptions.
On the way you feel about that person and maybe to even project your own
feelings onto that person which may give a completely false picture of them.

So I’m a little stuck. There are things I know I know, things I wish I knew and
things that I may never know about all three of these people.

I do know that there are some traits that they all share.

All of them project an image to the outside world that covers their insecurities. All
of them appear confident and outgoing (at least to an extent). All of them are
probably considered a success as people. I don’t think any of them are as happy
as they could be.

And you see, this is where I stray onto dangerous territory, I’m already making
assumptions. I’m projecting. Only they know how they truly feel, or maybe they
don’t, I don’t know.

The person I know best is Rock Chick.

From an early age she’s attracted the attention of men. She hasn’t set out to,
some of the time she’s felt uncomfortable with it. As she’s got older she’s learnt
to live with it.

She’s never really seen what others claim to see, has always believed it’s a bit of
an illusion which of course it is. Mostly all they see the packaging, many don’t see or have
any interest in what’s inside.

The story tells her personal journey but she has other people around her.  Her children, her family and her friends.  She isn’t alone but, at times, she feels very lonely.

She knows she is loved and she loves them.  For them she is determined to overcome her own unhappiness and move on, to find another way in the hope and belief that in doing this the emptiness she carries around will gradually lessen and she will truly be happy again.

Only a few are aware of her true feelings, she hides it well.  She lives her life.  She laughs, she jokes she bakes cakes, she gets on with things.

Right now she has choices she needs to make.  Some are easy.  She wants a better life for herself and her family, she knows this means physically  and emotionally moving on.  She isn’t sorry to do this, it’s been on her mind for quite some time.  She is undecided at the moment about where she will take them.  She has options.  From a simple move to a larger city with more opportunities to a life changing move abroad.

She also has the option to stay.  In the background of the story is a man she cares for very much.  He loves her, without question, without doubt, he wants to be her happiness.

She can’t take that option, she wishes she could but you can’t build your happiness on someone else’s dream.  She cares about him too much to compromise, she knows, however hard he tries, he can’t make the emptiness go away.

She knows how easy it is to fall into the darkness, she’s been there before. She never intends to go back.  This is what makes her fight, it gives her strength.

The only thing she can’t control are her dreams and her nightmares.  They haunt her.  She cherishes her dream, it’s always the same but it’s just a dream.

The nightmare is more honest.  She wakes from it in the early hours, tears fresh on her face, over and over.

She looks forward to a time where the dream and the nightmare are a distant memory.

This isn’t a full character analysis, it’s just the things I know I know.  The rest is subjective, different people will see different things in her character.  I don’t want to label her, she is something different to each person she knows.  A mother, a friend, a lover……….


Anonymous said...

Being knew to WoW and your blog and stuff; where can I read the story in which Rock Chick appears? I'd like to 'see' her in action as it were!

Anonymous said...

I so meant to type new!

Sarah Mac said...

Hi Adam, I've created a page with the pieces I've done for WoW following the story of Rock Chick. You can find in in my sidebar on the right of the blog.

Haha, typos are the bane of my life :)

K.D.Storm said...

I understand how hard it can be to write about others. A lot of my writings are based on real life events as well as those I interact with. I have to walk a very fine line with it but I do it. Those around you make the best fictional charactors sometimes. With that said I enjoyed reading about your charactor you wrote about in this piece. You did a great job.

Sarah Mac said...

Thank you K.D. it is something I struggle with and is possibly why the other characters, although key to the story, are very much in the background.

I've never done a character analysis before and I'm not sure really how they are supposed to look but hopefully this give a little more of an insight into who she is and what she's about.

No doubt more will be revealed if the story continues.

Anonymous said...

Sarah - I think that basing your characters on people you know is a natural thing to do. I also believe that by improvising on the traits that you do not know as fact on these people is how you make the character your own, and although based on someone you know, this association becomes very loose at best.

Hopefully that makes some sense and doesn't sound like complete and utter twaddle.

Sarah Mac said...

Haha, not twaddle at all Lou. xx

I think the reaaon I find it hard in this particular case is that there is a lot more fact than fiction in this story.

Had it been the other way round or, if I'd only losely based it on people I know then it would have been easier.

As it is, I'm very reluctant to make assumptions. Like I said, there are things I THINK I know but people are complex.

Maybe that's a lesson for me in future, if I want to make a charcter my own then I shouldn't give them such a strong identity in my own mind.

Kimberlee said...

It is always interesting to base characters off of real life peeps. I wrote a short story based on a couple I knew. When I took it to a writing group, there were a couple of group members who argued with me saying that they didn't think the actions were true to character. I just laughed since I knew the truth. :)

Just don't let yourself get too boxed in by comparing the character to the real life person or worrying about your assumptions. You don't want to stifle your creativity. :) If the person wanted you to write a biography for them, that is one thing, but since you are fictionalizing it, don't hold back.

James Dinsdale said...

I find it fascinating that you are basing your characters on people you know. It's not something I ever thought of and, to be honest, not something I would do. My opinions tend to be pretty direct and I would lose count of the number of people I would offend!!

It's much more interesting building a fictitious character from the ground up. That way you can make them as perfect or imperfect as you want them.

I'll have to show you a draft of my new book. Some of the characters are complete arses and yes, I am putting my experience of real arses into my writing, but not a specific arse. You know what I mean.

Anyway, I wish you the best of luck with your character creations. x

Sarah Mac said...

I think in future I will take that line Kimberlee. The truth is, these people didn't ask me to write about them at all and they would recognise themselves so I do feel a duty to be as true to them as I can be.

I think you may have the right idea Jim, I've never written fiction before and there is very little fiction in this story. I don't know how I would get on building a fictional character from scratch, maybe I should try it.

I'd love to see a draft of your book if you want to email it to me. You know where to find me. x

Lene said...

I think it's hard not to have a character that isn't based in some way or another on a real person.
I love this Rock Chick character you have created, she is so intriguing. I also love the way that you've described her...no physical elements - yet I can see her so clearly in my head.

life without mathematics said...

Oh well done! What a thorough analysis you've done. I understand your dilemma about real people. my take on it is that it's all real, and all entirely fiction, all at the same time. If we write about the day we've only just had, even then it so easily becomes fictionalised. It's a very blurry line. I'm sure it's not my word, but I think of it all as "Faction".

Andy @ Words and Pen said...

Who says you're having difficulty with your character? "you can’t build your happiness on someone else’s dream"- i love that!You did a pretty good job! Rocker chick's gonna rock W.o.W. Wait till you see I am right.

you can’t build your happiness on someone else’s dream

Sif said...

First of all, I couldn't tell if this was you describing an actual dilemma you have (which, by the comments I see it is) or if this was actually a fiction piece, by way of character analysis, LOL! You write so melodically!

On characters, there is always a danger of basing an entire character on what you know of one person - are you hoping to publish this one day, could you be sued for it, even by Rock Chic's children - those sorts of concerns...

Also, almost any character in any piece of fiction (and even biographies are fictitious to some extent) will be based partly in a real person and partly in fictitious embellishments on the part of the writer.

Adding "not wholly factual" elements to your character's traits or experiences can protect both you and the person you're basing your character on from future embarrassment or conflict, it can also free you up to take the character's story where it will want to go without the constraints of "keeping it factual"... Just some thoughts on the discussion here...

Anne @ Domesblissity said...

Gidday Sarah, hope you're holding up okay with all of those riots over there? What the bloody hell?

I think I'm a little bit like Rock Chick in many ways. I like her and am looking forward to how you develop the character, if any or if it will be based on 'real life'.

Anne @ Domesblissity

Sarah Mac said...

Thank you Lene. I love that you have your own picture of her. It means that she is personal to you and I like that thought :)

The line is very blurry LWM. Everything is open to interpretation and all I can write about is my take on things and how I feel. I'm going to try and stop worrying so much about how others might view things and hope that they understand if I get things wrong.

Thank you Andy, there's another episode of Rock Chick coming up but it hasn't happened yet. I shall wait to see if it fits in with WoW or if it goes on as a normal blog post :)

I really believe it is true that you can't build your happiness on someone elses dream. You have to fulfil your own dreams and be true to yourself or you will never really be happy however much of a front you put on and frankly, lifes too short!

To be told I write 'melodically' is one of the nicest compliment Ive ever had! Thank you Sif!!! :))

Rock Chick is based on me so no, no danger of upsetting anyone there fortunately. Not everyone would probably think it's an entirely accurate description of me but it's pretty much how I see myself.

As to whether I would ever try to publish this .... Hmmm, I realy have no idea. For now I'm happy to keep it here and see what happens with the story.

Adding a little more fiction would give me more scope but I dont know if I want to do that with this one. Perhaps I need to start another story at some point.

The riots have been so disturbing and scary Anne. I'm very lucky that it's not close to me although there has been some unrest pretty close by. There are people I care a great deal about that have been living in fear over the past days. It's completely senseless and a real wake up call for us all, peace and order can be very fragile!

I'm glad you can identify with Rock Chick. As you know now, it is me. I like that I've made her real enough that people can see bits of themselves in her. Hopefully that means I'm doing an ok job. x

Jodie Ansted said...

My characters definitely have traits of people I know, but they are a real mix. I think it's challenging to base characters solely on the people you know.

Did you see Life in a Pink Fibro's recent interview with author Kylie Ladd? She touched on this very thing.

Go with what feels comfortable. Your writing is fab. :)

Sarah Mac said...

Thank you Jodie. I did read Allisons interview. (She was one of the first blogs I started to follow).

The interview with Kylie was really interesting. I took on board her views about basing characters soely on people you know, it can be a minefield.

I think the fact that Rock Chick is me and the other two really dont have much of an identiy at the moment other than in the way she feels about them means that should I decided to expand their characters I can include a lot more fiction and make them do whatever I like. I like THAT idea :))

Anonymous said...

If you're writing fiction, then the characters you create are your characters, even if based on real people. I think writers draw on people they know all the time- wittingly or not. We observe, listen, analyse & then try to bring that to life with words.
The best piece of advice I've ever heard about character is to listen to them & don't dictate to them.

Sarah Mac said...

I think you are probably right Jennifer, it's good advice.

This really started as a one off piece and the first post is entirely fact but as it's grown it's become more complicated because of the introduction of others.

So, I shall put my disclaimer in place now :) Any further adventures of Rock Chick may or may not be based on fact, my perception, my own personal feelings and wishes or relate in any way to reality.

Rock Chick refuses to be held back any longer by her own inhibitons ;)

InkPaperPen said...

I'm so pleased that so many WoWers commented in reply to your question here, Sarah. And I am so glad you used WoW to explore this interesting writing question. I am inclined to agree with Kimberlee - base the characters on real life but do not let your apprehension for making assumptions stifle your creativity. I see you have moulded all the advice to suit your writing in your disclaimer above. Great work, Sarah and wonderful exploration of writing about your characters

Gill xo

Sarah Mac said...

Thanks Gill. The disclaimer is a bit lighthearted really but I do take the point on board. I am releasing Rock Chick ;) xx