As in everyday life along with the stories we read, what attracts us to certain people? What is it making us want to learn more and spend time around those we find interesting, fascinating, passionate, and in-your-face REAL? What draws us in, keeps us thinking about the next time we’ll see them, or makes us want to read about their next move, conversation or adventure? In a nutshell, what makes certain ones so appealing to us on a natural level?
Like so many millions of other TV watchers, I love the mini-dramas that air on cable channels such as HBO, FX, AMC, and The Discovery Channel. These networks seem to understand what it takes to collect millions of viewers each week with their out-of-the-box programming. Imagine, making a TV show so hugely popular portraying a boring Chemistry Professor discovering he has cancer then deciding to become a meth-cooking drug lord in order to pay for his treatment; one where cameras follow backwoods Hillbillies into the Appalachian Mountains so they can film them making and distributing moonshine; and how about the saga of a California Motorcycle gang headquartered in small town USA whose members are constantly doing battle not only with rival gangs, but with each other to gain notoriety and wealth. Then there’s the History Channel’s mega-successful program, Pawn Stars, a show based around characters that own and operate a simple pawn shop inside the suburbs of Las Vegas. And how can I not mention Mob Boss, Tony Soprano of The Sopranos--one minute he’s ordering someone killed the next he’s crying on his psychiatrist’s couch. All of these shows carry the same traits making them widely successful: interesting and realistic personalities displaying the “human” side of psychological behavior.
Think of things this way, which would you rather watch or read about: A conservative lawyer wearing shined shoes and walking inside his meticulous office, or a guy being chased by the cops while speeding an RV through the dessert (mainly because his meth lab inside the vehicle caught fire and smoke could be seen for miles). Here’s some more: Watching a reality show such as Big Brother, or a re-run of Andy Griffin? Professional Wrestling or Golf? A Presidential speech or a guy walking a tightrope across the Grand Canyon? Opera or Aerosmith? James Bond or Woody Allen? Donald Trump or Bill Gates? An Outlaw like Jesse James or the Sheriff chasing him?
Here’s something else, if you had your choice of professions which would you rather become: An Accountant or Astronaut? Doctor or Hollywood Actor/Actress? Fighter Pilot or Marketing Rep? Owner of a Biker Bar overlooking the Pacific Ocean in Hawaii or Government Analyst working inside a cubicle?
Which ones would you find more interesting and likely be drawn to? I bet I can guess your answers.
As you might imagine, I enjoy drama and characters I find attention-grabbing. I also love creating them while writing stories.
So, what’s the best way to create someone cool enough we’d want to spend part of our day getting to know them? Manufacture conflict between them and their families, co-workers, lovers, or friends? Make them into, or do something that’s completely out of their comfort zone? How about exposing them as a bigamist and make them race through the Nevada dessert on a motorcycle, at midnight, with three ex-wives (so they thought) hard on their heels? Would that grab your attention? Make you wish for that kind of excitement?
Producing impressionable characters is all about bringing their inner emotions to the surface, stretching their abilities and fears to breaking points, and making them who they truly want to be. Trying to convey this on paper or on the screen is where the writer, actor, and director sharpens their talents--it takes visualizing the people and places in your head, then basically living with them on a daily basis.
We all love the underdog, the one who tugs at our heart strings, and the villain or murderers making us want to seek revenge. They’re the ones making us want to be them, feel what they’re feeling, have the same goals and desires, and live where they live if only for a short while. It’s good escaping into unforgettable characters. It jogs our inner self and makes us realize we all have other people living inside, begging to come out and desperate to be heard.
After all, where would we be without the ones making us laugh, cry, and wanting to pull the trigger?
For more of Randy Mitchell's articles, visit his website @ www.theinspirationalwriter.com
To read the 5Star Reviews of his inspirational romance novel, SONS IN THE CLOUDS go to Amazon.com