You’re all my favourites!

Welcome back to another blog hop, with #OpenBook. Here’s this week’s prompt.

What are your favourite kind of characters to create? To read?

I love to create a fish out of water character.

By that I mean ordinary people thrust into extraordinary situations. Even though my stories might be set in the far future, or an alternative now, there are still people unfamiliar with adventure living in them.

Presenting everyman (or woman) with a situation way out of their comfort zone is a great place to begin.

I like to start my stories with a scene that we can all relate to, whether its civil servant Horis Strongman arriving in a strange place, Dan Jones relaxing by a swimming pool or Miles Goram simply opening a hotel room door. The important point is that these are all things that we’ve done, at some time in our lives.

They have familiarity.

The fact that this opening scene takes place in an imaginary world is immaterial at this point. Because in the future, they will still have hotel rooms and swimming pools. People will always be arriving in places they’ve never been to before. To be honest, there’s not a lot you can do to things like that as regards sci-fi.

Then, after the reader has got comfortable with the character and their situation, I can introduce the fact that we’re not in Kansas and give my lead something to do. It might be finding a body, or opening a café or even discovering a secret that could change the world. Preferably, it will give them a job to do, one that involves him (or her) finding out a lot more about themselves while they do it.

So much of what you read is written about the exploits of a person who is well equipped to deal with them. The trained spy, the ex special-forces soldier, the computer genius. Someone who is (or should be) more than capable of handling whatever gets thrown their way.

Fair enough, but I like to focus on the others, the discredited journalist, the dress shop owner who opens a café or the minor civil servant. Not forgetting the man who lives a separate and complete life in his dreams. They’re people who should be out of their depth in the place they’ve ended up.

And yet,

somehow, they find the strength or ability to triumph. Although not all the time. If you want to be realistic, it doesn’t hurt to have your character lose at the end, even though they seemed to be winning at some point. It’s how life works.

Very often, failure this time gives them a starting point for their next adventure. And there’s always the chance that when, if, it all goes well, they could end up winning next time.

Hopefully, we can emphasise with them as we share their journey.

Again, I can’t relate to the indestructable hero who carries on, even though he has been shot, beaten up, trampled by rampaging animals or whatever. He should be in no position to do anything except lay down, yet he’s still running and fighting, like some human Lara Croft, complete with unlimited health and ammo.

As for what I’m reading, the same applies, I’m a big fan of the underdog, win or lose.

Let me know what you think about this week’s subject.

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5 Responses

  1. Stevie Turner

    It sounds as though your characters are similar to mine, except that yours live in the future. Sometimes I wish I could come back in 500 years’ time and find out what I’ve missed by living in the 21st century!

    • Richard Dee

      I can’t imagine the things my grandchildren will see in their lives. I wonder if they will be as surprised at them as I have been?

  2. phil huston

    Yep, every man/woman. Well explained. I tend to ramble in different directions. My example is always Hitch. Cary Grant in “North by Northwest.” No superman, no endless supply of clever lines and ammo. Maybe doing the extraordinary, maybe bailed out by friends. Ever read any of the adult Hardy Boys Mack Bolan? Fodder for all the Norris, Segal, Willis, Stallone and Arnie movies. Endless ammo.

    • Richard Dee

      “That’s a Smith and Wesson, and you’ve had your six.” One of my favourite lines, ever.

  3. P.J. MacLayne

    Because we can relate to the underdog. And while we admire the expert, we don’t believe we can be like them.

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