As I mentioned last week, I’ve been spending a lot of time thinking about character. In fact, I am thinking about Ms. Talula almost all the time.
I feel like I am starting to get a handle on who she is, and what she wants, but I’m still missing the little things. Small details of her personality like how she answers the phone, what kind of music she enjoys, whether or not she paints her finger nails.
I think it was Aristotle who said there is no character, only action. Actions, gathered together over time, make a person who they are. Furthermore, characters reacting as only they can to a given situation is what gives rise to story.
Nail biters will chew until the day they die and bad drivers will always roll through stop signs. In real life people rarely change, but in fiction they do, and it’s satisfying. This is why we read books and watch movies.
And what is that change but an incorporation or cessation of all the tiny quirks that make up a person? It’s the little things that make a character real, make us love them and cheer for them as they are forced through the difficult process of change. So Talula must start doing some things, and stop doing others over the course of my story. I’m not worried yet about the changes, just the starting point. Decisions need to be made.
So you heard it here first: Talula Jones says “yel-low” when she answers the phone, listens to old country music like Patsy Cline and Johnny Cash (mostly because it’s what her grandparents had laying around), and she doesn’t paint her nails.