Hey SE Readers. Joan with you today. I love character-driven fiction. All stories need a good plot, but when characters are flat, the story falls flat with me. This is the first of a series of posts about different character types. All are from my personal observations.
One of my favorite pastimes is people watching. Sitting in a shopping mall or airport is often best, but you can observe people anywhere—restaurants, sporting events, community gatherings, family get-togethers. If possible, I like to have a notebook or something to make notes in.
Back in my “want to be a writer” days, I kept a writing journal. Most of it was commiserating about what I wanted to happen, but occasionally I’d record observations. Here’s an entry from 2009.
“I’m at the coffee shop enjoying a warm fire, a cup of cinnamon cocoa, Aussie bites, and music. It’s a great place to observe people. Unfortunately, it tends to get a bit noisy – there are always those who love attention. Like the person who started the fireplace. I guess he thought he was being funny, but he was a bit overdramatic and definitely called attention to himself. As the flames rose, he looked as if he was conducting an orchestra into a crescendo. Then there is a woman with four children. All appear to be under the age of six. Wow, does she have her hands full! Some teenagers are standing in line and talking loudly. I made the mistake of sitting near the counter, but if I wanted total quiet, I would have gone to the library.”
Twelve years later, I still picture the guy at the fireplace, think about the woman and her brood of kids, and hear the giggles of the teenagers. Character ideas? You bet. In today’s post, I’ll focus on the attention seeker.
We’ve all met them. Those that must be the center of attention. I’m not qualified to delve into the psychological aspects, but there are several reasons why a person might be this way. They could have come from a large family and felt overshadowed by their older or younger siblings (middle child syndrome). Maybe they weren’t popular in school and it’s their way to shine. A third possibility is insecurity. They need affirmation and will go to great lengths to get it.
Would this type of person make a good character? Absolutely! Imagine an insecure protagonist. She wants to be accepted and because of this sometimes makes poor choices in relationships. Have the character face a turning point where she’s hit rock bottom and is forced to make a choice. She can continue making the same mistakes or choose to turn her life around.
You could also use the insecure personality for your antagonist. He or she could be someone who was bullied and they now seek revenge. They might even become a serial killer.
No two people placed in the same situation will react the same way. As a writer, the possibilities for your characters are endless.
What’s your experience with attention-seeking types? Have you written one into your stories? Please share in the comments.