What To Do With A Clichéd Character

So I was struggling through the end of Spark this weekend, as promised. I got to thinking about it and realized that part of my hangup is that I don't know who one of the characters is. Actually, no, that's not right, I do know who she is, she's based off of someone I've known. But when I go to write the character she comes out so clichéd.

Through the various versions she's seen a few different incarnations, one closely based on reality, the next pure evil, the last a bit more caring and concerned. So when I sat down to write her big scene I had to come to terms with these different aspects. That's when I wrote an interview in her voice, basing it off of things that I've heard in real life.

The surprising thing was, when I got done I found that, no, she is just as clichéd as she sounded originally before I tried to add to her character.

I mean, clichés and stereotypes come from somewhere, don't they? I guess, the key is in finding that bit of unique truth hidden within the cliché. For Cara it's this misguided mothering. She can be so cold and cruel with her work, but at the same time she sees herself as a mother figure, the rock to which her brothers can tether themselves to.

I'm wondering what other characters I have that are coming off as clichéd and what unique truth I can find in them.

Does this give anyone any thoughts on their own characters?

And I'm sorry about another short post. I'm desperately trying to catch up and then get ahead in preparation for the out of state wedding this weekend. So much to do and such little time. Sigh. I almost decided on taking a week off from the blog, but I won't fall off of the wagon now, I can't. I've been making too much progress to toss in the towel, even for a break. 


S.F. Robertson said...

I can understand. I was having that problem with Errol until he manned up, and now I'm having it with Emma. She's the good girl turned bad girl who's confused about which one she wants to be. I don't know what I'll do with her yet.

I'm glad to hear you found Cara's unique quality. It sounds like a good one, especially considering that it doesn't seem like she'd be a mothering figure. I can't wait to read it!

Paige Bruce said...

Y'know, I read this post this morning and decided to let it digest in my mind a little bit to see what I wanted to say as a comment.

Ironically, I also found this post at Genreality today. I think it does a good job of talking about the problem. So that is my comment. :D


David Noceti said...

Oh, way to take the easy way out, Paige. Pft.

But I like that idea, mixing traits. In a way that's what ended up happening with Cara, but I didn't do it on purpose. I forgot to mention here that I had found something in the subtext of what Cara was saying in my little interview withe her, something riding below the surface that made her not so cliched. Maybe I'll post it next week and dissect it to show what I'm talking about.

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