Love Jello. It’s wiggly, it’s jiggly. And it’s tasty, too!
Wikipedia describes gelatin as “is a translucent, colorless, flavorless food ingredient, derived from collagen taken from animal body parts”. Sounds ucky.
But that’s exactly what many characters are: colorless/flavorless … drab, banal … predictable … and translucent. Gelatinous characters make for boring scenes and plots. Sometimes, they serve as a good laugh, but not necessarily of the good kind.
Breathe life into fictional people. Provide them with distinct personalities, traits, habits, expressions. Don’t make them cliché or wooden, or just out-and-out silly … and [please!] don’t model your characters on pre-80s films and shows.
Here are a small handful of characters that pop up more frequently than they should:
♠ females who constantly sob/weep/cry or scream ♠ women who cower with wide-eyed fright, watching Mr. Muscular Hero thrash and bash Mr. Bad Guy or Demonic Creature #3 ♠ ladies who allow men to do everything as they wait and wonder where the villains are lurking (apparently, they have no ability to do anything but look pretty and appear vulnerable) ♠ protagonist with good physique is gosh-darn-good and constantly apologizes while providing gosh-darn-I’m-lovable smiles, and ♠ bad guy, built like a box with ugly scarred face and questionable IQ, quotes bad film dialogue while taunting good guy.
“I’ll take care of this,” Rudy declared, straightening to his full six-foot-seven height and putting an arm round each of the two women. Linda hugged him, but Marsha pulled away, sobbing, her head in her hands. He tried to pull her back to him.
The brute sent Ursula into some shrubs and turned to face Leonard with a smug smile. He urged him forward. Leonard stepped forward, but before the boxy muscle-bound goon could react, Leonard sent his right foot into the man’s belly, sending him flying into the sidewalk. Before the brute could rise, Leonard then kicked him in both kneecaps. The man yelled in agony and writhed on the ground. Leonard quickly hurried to Ursula and helped her to her wobbly feet. She smiled gratefully and, placing her face on his broad chest, started to cry. “There, there,” he said soothingly, patting her slim back.
Barry held her slim hand with his free hand and helped Renata step over a gnarled tree root growing through the pavement. She accepted the help and allowed him to lift her over a larger root that followed. His strong hands felt natural around her slender waist, and he lifted her with effortlessness. Gently, he lowered Renata before him, their bodies brushing as he did so. She smiled gratefully and whispered her thanks.
Jasmine felt her glossy lips part in shock. A tear trickled down her flushed cheek. She closed her eyes, letting sympathy wash over her. Then, opening her eyes and taking a steadying breath, she smiled sadly. “Are you all right?” Vic asked, regarding her pretty face closely. “I shouldn’t have told you. I’m so sorry.”
Think of Jello; it comes in a variety of colors and flavors. So do people, whether in real life or on paper or screen. Variety is the spice of life, as it should be with characters. They should be memorable—for the right reasons.