Character in real life matters a lot, but it also matters in fiction. Character creation, portrayal, description and expression are all meaningful. The nature of the art form being used influences the manner is which character can be known, perceived, understood etc..
We all know some real life characters and some fictional ones. There are also ones we may be overly or insufficiently sure of – mythical figures, gods, heroes, heroines and so on.
Where do we find fictional characters? Books, adventure games, plays, TV shows, movies, the comics and all too often at the office. OK, that last one was a bit cynical, but that’s how it goes.
Recently the big fiction characters in my own life have been the ones for a science fiction novel series that I’m now writing the second novel of for the series and a group of characters used in some Dungeons and Dragons gaming. Yes, I do that even though I am an adult. There was about a decade when I did not but my son likes it – he is imaginative and likes it. He plays online versions way more than I ever did or do, and we both play real time group and have played ‘traditional in person’ style. He likes to create characters. While we don’t deal with it all the same way, we both like creating and using characters in fictional settings. This goes beyond mere observation. I view reading as being between mere observation and the type of enactment and portrayal of stage actors. Movies and TV are a little different because in some ways they work like stage theatre but in other respects they really don’t.
One of the major characters in The Double Life of Tutweiler Buckhead is a woman. Her name is Talitha; no last name is ever given. She is named after much younger woman I met in real life and there is really almost no other resemblance between them beyond that they are both human females. The real person is a woman I cared for professionally for a few months while she was a teen. I actually liked her. Because I did, I went so far as to name a fiction character after her. The bad news is, the character I named after her is not very nice.
Women’s Lunch Group
My intention was to explain that the fictional character was included in a neighborhood women’s luncheon group. At the women’s group – somewhat hoity toity of a very middle class crowd, but not the lower middle class if you get my meaning. They were not trying to be snobs about it, but their main focus was on having a good neighborhood. Most of the ladies in the group are married women, but Talitha was not. She had been but did not have custody of either or her two children. The other women knew it was a sore point with her and so they didn’t talk about it much.
Well, truth be told, Talitha has as much of a double life as Tutweiler Buckhead in the novel for similar sorts of reasons – criminal activities. For Talitha, it comes down to maintaining the lifestyle in which she was raised which turned out to be different to achieve than she had anticipated growing up. It means a great deal to her that the other women in the neighborhood have no idea of her criminal activities at all but are very aware that her front lawn is well tended, and that she is well groomed and well dressed. If anything, that is the real message as experienced by this lady who helps a few men solve a serious crime problem in Indianapolis, despite being crooked herself.
A team of graduate students solves a technical mystery in this futuristic academic setting: see excerpt below.
Disruption struck the engineering laboratory of an English university. Computer screens crackled and went dark. Testers and timers scratched; fuses burst in those bundles of electronic parts. Graduate students gasped and cursed. Students looked away from their projects to their comrades.
“Did you just lose power?” they asked each other.Office doors swung wide. The advanced students and those with the prestige of office space squinted up to the glowing neon lights and cursed in a variety of languages. None of them were British.
“It’s the storm,” suggested an undergraduate working on her final project.A German man glowered. “Storm? There is no storm.”
“Have you been outside recently?” the young woman replied. “Have you even been near a window leading to the outside world?”
The young German man with the office without windows frowned.“No, I haven’t.”
He gave her a weird smile and said, “I’m Kiel Bronson, but maybe you had better call me Sergeant.”
She gave him a weird look right back. “I see you’re not the enemy,” she said.
He chuckled, but she could hear the fear in his voice. “That’s right, soldier. I’m an Earthling. Have you met an Earthling before?”
“No,” she said. It was the truth. “Well, I did meet you last night, so yes.”
“OK,” he said. He was certain now, that he was more than twice her age, even though she was an adult. It still made him uncomfortable at times, to realize how old he really was, but there was a lot about it that he liked. One thing for sure, was both the good and the bad of it: he had a lot more life experience than anyone her age.