Tuesday, February 15, 2011

what makes people into fascinating characters?

There are some people who fascinate me. They could be a movie character. One is my personal trainer Megan, who always has an interesting dating story or work dilemma. Another is my Seattle friend Wenarto, who throws elaborate dinner parties where he conscripts the guests to act in his youtube videos.

I was mulling over what makes these people so fascinating.

There's a guideline to writing fiction, wherein you ought to devise characters with strong motives. One book said, "If your character's only desire is to drink some water, make that desire very strong. Make him parched, and craving water as though his life depends on it."

The examples I gave both have strong passions. Megan is humorously opinionated about every area of her life. Wenarto lives to sing opera in youtube videos, and cook feasts of capon.

Is that the primary factor? Perhaps it is also because these individuals are not self-conscious. They rarely get embarrassed, and proudly own up to all their foibles.


A thoroughly interesting person said...

A stark contrast between expectations and reality can also be interesting. For example, if it turned out a Supreme Court justice -- Clarence Thomas, say -- was also an avid gamer, I'd consider him far more interesting than I do now, and not because I consider gamers interesting per se.

Or similarly, a contradiction in one's personal story is interesting. A thug turned priest, an eighth grade dropout turned college professor, etc. An otherwise normal, reasonable, or perhaps even uninteresting person -- a 9-to-5 accountant, say -- who, it turns out, was raised in a cult until he escaped at age 13.

Some people are interesting because the are part of a rare, select, or cloistered group. If I met a former spy, for example, I'd probably consider him interesting, even if I had no expectation he would ever tell any spy stories. It's just that you don't meet many spies (?).

I'm sure there are other ways people can be fascinating.

Jack said...

What about you? Are you highly motivated? Are you easily embarrassed?

As for me, I can't even stand to watch a fictional character get embarrassed, much less myself. I watched the original Office with Ricky Gervais on constant pause. But I was motivated enough to finish the episode.... eventually.

Niniane said...

I like the first commenter's points. It's true that when people defy your expectations, it makes them more interesting. That juxtaposition is taught for fiction writing as well.

Also when they are part of a mysterious group.