Monday, November 22, 2010

Bizarre Characters and General Hodgepodge

I write about real people in disguise. If anything, my characters are toned down-the truth is much more bizarre. – Jackie Collins

I was in Las Vegas last week for our annual get-together with a wonderful group of friends. I didn’t take my computer, so I was completely unplugged from the internet. It wasn’t as hard to adjust to as I anticipated. In fact, to be honest, it was very liberating.

Now I'm home and the fantasy life of Vegas is fading as I switch gears into catch-up mode. When I have lots to do, I tend to go in circles and my thoughts are rather jumbled. The result is this rather eclectic mixture of topics for today’s post, so I'll dive in now.

As usual I didn’t walk away with any big money jackpots. My Vegas windfall is more in the form of character ideas. I can’t imagine there being any better people watching place in the world.

I’m not talking about performers or casino employees when I say some people are so off the charts in looks, actions and voice that I wondered how anyone could turn them into a believable character. Describing these colorful folks exactly as I saw them might have the reader shaking their head and saying, “No way. No one’s this outrageous.”

I find perfect characters boring—I can’t relate to them at all. Is it possible, though, to go too far in the other direction? I ’ve read that if you want a satirical tool your characters can be unrealistically eccentric which leads me to wonder exactly what is unrealistic?

I don’t have the answers to my own questions, so if anyone has any ideas on the topic I’d love to hear them. Tips on writing about unusual characters are also welcome. Who is your favorite quirkiest character in a novel?

On a completely different topic, I like to thank Rayna for featuring me on her blog, Coffee Rings Everywhere, last Wednesday. I’m flattered to be the subject of one of Rayna’s drabbles. A drabble is a story told in exactly 100 words and Rayna has one to offer daily. A resident of Bombay, India, her drabbles are always interesting and educational, expertly showing the similarities and differences between our cultures and lives. I recommend stopping often.

Changing the subject again - be sure to mark your calendar for December 1 when the Indie Books Holiday Giveaway begins. Forty-seven authors are offering hundreds of free print and eBooks. All you have to do is enter and that's super easy.

Next I’d to credit Marvin Wilson with coining the term, “blogcation.” I admit to stealing, I mean borrowing, the word for my last post. I couldn’t remember where I first saw it, but it seems it originated on The Old Silly’s Free Spirit blog. This comes as no surprise as Marvin’s posts are always creative.

Finally, happy Thanksgiving to all of you in the U.S. I hope your day is filled with joy and laughter and lots of good food.

Thank you for stopping by today. I hope to see you next week (I'll do my best to stick to a single topic).

Tags: Jackie Collins, blogcation, Las Vegas, drabble, Marvin Wilson, Thanksgiving, Coffee Rings Everywhere, unusual characters,


The Golden Eagle said...

I haven't really come across any "unrealistic" characters when it comes to them being bizarre or different; I'd believe the writer if they described something that seemed strange, since people themselves can be really strange.

Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

Happy Thanksgiving! And Vegas is full of odd characters.

Carol Kilgore said...

This was a great post. I've never been to Vegas, so I can only imagine.
Happy Thanksgiving.

Anonymous said...

Vegas is like a mini New York, a city full of characters that never sleeps. Have a great holiday!

Hart Johnson said...

I run into people all the time i could NEVER iuclude in books because they are too strange or out there and nobody would believe me. Part of that is where I live--I think I like in a place with implicity permission for whatever oddity to be SHOWN... If you select 'Ann Arbor' in my blog topics you'll find a few of these gems. Just last weekend I ran across the Celtic Buck ritual on a Sunday morning in the woods... erm... yeah... totally serious.

In the Cozy mystery I write, these are fairly okay--Cozy is meant to be quirky. Some of the characters were fit in a Tom Robbins or Lucy Ellmann... too weird for anything that isn't MEANT to have really odd characters though--they are strange enough they are distracting.

Mason Canyon said...

Congratulations on the spotlight from Rayna. Sounds as though you might have some interesting characters after your trip. Hope you have a wonderful Thanksgiving.

Thoughts in Progress

Helen Ginger said...

I think people who go to Vegas feel invisible. They don't know anyone and no one knows them, so they let loose and have fun. You really can find some crazy characters there.

Elizabeth Spann Craig/Riley Adams said...

I specialize in quirky characters--but that seems to cover everyone I see! Maybe the eccentric folks just jump out at writers? Your trip to Vegas sounds fun. :)

Patricia Stoltey said...

I like the blog posts with lots of topics. They're fun.

For me, Vegas is good because it always makes me happy to get home to the peace and quiet. Sometimes I forget to appreciate that when I have it.

Arlee Bird said...

Happy Thanksgiving to you too!

Odd characters are everywhere. I think they are only over the top in the sense of how they relate to the story. No one is truly over the top unless they just don't fit the story you are telling and the two aren't a good fit.

Off hand I can't think of a favorite odd character in a novel--
maybe the killer in No Country for Old Men--he has a really weird name that I can't think of right now, but he was pretty distinct and scary.

Tossing It Out

Anonymous said...

Oh, I have an award for you at my blog today.

The Old Silly said...

I agree 'perfect' characters are boring. Superman, to me for instance, was a real boooooore, lol.

Great hodgepodge, Jane, Happy Thanks, and CYA next week!

Jane's Ride - Novelist Jane Kennedy Sutton's journey through the ups and downs of the writing, publishing and marketing world