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When I’m hungry, I turn into a grumpy, irritable, toddler-like monster. Okay, maybe it’s not that bad. But when my tummy starts growling, I start growling.
Last weekend my husband and I went out and about for the afternoon, and we stopped for dinner at 5:00 at a Pizzeria Uno. While waiting for our appetizer, I realized I hadn’t eaten anything since the s’mores Pop-Tart I had at 10:00 that morning. When I mentioned this to hubby, his eyes lit up and he said, “Whoa. And you were pleasant all day. That’s really out of character for you!”
Hahaha. Anyway, so I’ve been thinking about characters being “out of character” all week. It brought to mind something my college friend Donny wrote on his fabulously fun blog Sexy Trash (Check it out if you like both the trashiness and classiness of Hollywood, celebrities, movies, television, and music!): In the post 14 Television Couples We Love, he mentions that the “we were on a break” situation between Ross and Rachel on Friends was completely out of character for Ross. I’ve always thought so, too. Friends is my favorite show, but I never like watching those few episodes in season 3. It annoys me to no end that the show made Ross do that.
There are two other television shows (see the comments!) my mom and I used to watch together that eventually spiraled into something we hardly recognized. The characters were written all wrong. We eventually stopped watching, and we weren’t the only ones losing interest. Both shows were cancelled the season after we stopped watching because of a sharp decline in ratings.
However, in reality a person does act completely out of character sometimes and shocks those who thought they knew him best. How many times have you seen a news interview in which people express their surprise that an unassuming, helpful neighbor committed a crime? Or know someone who has always hoarded their money but then donates to a good cause? People surprise each other all the time with their “out of character” actions and behavior. So when is it okay to write your own character like this?
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While Ross’ situation has probably happened in real life, we have to remember that we’re writing fiction. It’s art. The trick is to write a developed, well-rounded character prone to mistakes with the ability to rise above those mistakes while remembering there’s an audience out there completely invested in our characters. If we write something that’s too much out of character, it might lose the reader’s interest and believability in the story.
What are your thoughts on writing “out of character” moments in your novel?
Have a wonderful weekend, zigzaggers!!!