Character Post 2
Update on the Q & A: I am pushing the time limit out for mid-November, so that you guys have more time to think of questions. :)
With that out of the way, time for the post!
Temper and impatience.
Big words with no good headed the way of their possessors.
A character gets ticked off about something, and so he acts out, causing a problem that will probably end up getting the main character in trouble...
The girl is mad at her Prince Charming, so she splutters and then finally finds something she thinks is rude and spiteful, and says it before spinning on her heel and storming off, and woe betide any who interfere...
The sidekick is impatient, so when they don’t attack soon enough, he charges ahead and makes a mess of everything, leaving the hero and everyone else scrambling...
I have listed temper and impatience together because they often go hand-in-hand, but I will address both in their own section.
I think we need to break the stereotype that Irish and Scottish people (especially redheads) are the ones with tempers and no one else comes close. Sure, they often do have feistiness and tempers (talking from personal experience, since I do have a temper and I'm pretty feisty), but it doesn't mean other cultures and nationalities don't. So make sure you keep from just sticking with assumptions and stereotypes! Try doing something out of the typical zone!
Tempers in stories are often portrayed as bad because most of the time when someone loses it, there are negative consequences, no matter how big or small.
Now, you may not want to do this, and that's fine, but in reality, there is most likely going to be at least one person in your character's life who is short-tempered, because there are a lot of these people out there! It's not just personality, people! If you aren't raised to have self-control, you aren't likely going to have it, are you?
So, why not give the main character a temper? Give them short patience, and give them a tagalong who annoys the snot outta them, but one they can’t get rid of or get away from (siblings… anyone been there?) and voila! Temper and blow-ups!
Personally, I love using this scenario. It’s amusing and yields interesting results, especially when it happens to be the clown of a brother who’s not going to leave his sister's side for anything, not even the annoying snarky cousin or giant spiders…
(For those of you who know my fear of spiders and are probably laughing; yes, I have armies of giant spiders in my novels and I’m not afraid to use them.)
A word of caution: be sure you don’t overuse the temper flaw, or you’ll get a cranky boring character that drives your readers crazy, or even worse, makes them stop reading! You need to use wisdom in crafting your character; they should be human, with struggles and flaws like all of us, but they shouldn’t be riddled with problems. Unless of course, that’s your plot point, but you may find people aren’t very interested with characters like this. I had a few characters like this in the rough draft of my novel, and let me tell you, they absolutely sucked and I had to completely rewrite them, because no one liked them.
Bear in mind, that while short temper is normally a bad thing, it can work out to be useful. Say everyone else is being timid and getting nothing done. Well, there goes the one with the temper and gives them a pep-talk, or just confronts the problem with a good ol' rant of annoyance, and maybe a good smack to the idiot who's not doing their job (not too hard, though, or that may end badly…).
Another approach, one which I have also used; the character is working hard on becoming more patient, and they don’t blow up when they really, really want to. Then when they finally blow their top, it will be meaningful, and the reader will have more sympathy for them.
Most people don’t just blow up for no reason, so give some reasons that are logical: Fears they’re trying to face, deadlines looming over their heads, people driving them crazy, all of the above, or anything you know would make your character tick.
Also, don’t just give the girls tempers. True, most of us females do show emotion more openly, but we’re not all short-tempered drama queens. Guys can have tempers too, so use your imagination and knowledge of your character, and make some cool characters that are truly relatable.
For those of you who seem to practically ooze patience; good for you.
For those of you who struggle with patience; I am in your ranks.
Patience is indeed a virtue, and a hard one to acquire at that! Having younger siblings has improved me a lot, but only with hours of prayer, and lots of time bogged down with frustration with myself for the times I messed up. One of the only people I have ever been jealous of is Job, from the Bible; he has so much patience I get impatient reading about his patience!
Good news for you writer; impatience is probably among the easier of flaws to portray because many people are impatient to a degree… it can be expressed verbally and/or physically, like fidgeting or pacing, tapping fingers or tapping your foot (I have done all of these).
Why would someone save chocolate for two days? Just eat it already!
Why would you wait to possibly get a better picture?
Why are you taking three minutes instead of two?
Why do I have to wait for an hour? The doctor was supposed to be here twenty minutes ago!
Why are you waiting for that person to give the book back? They obviously forgot, so give them a gracious reminder already! It's been two weeks, for pity’s sake!
Yeah... these scenarios I just listed are real; I have thought and even voiced all of these thoughts, and many more.
An impatient villain could also be interesting. I have used this in my stories as well, and I am very happy I did. After all, not all villains are those creepily smooth, silent and freakishly well-composed people who sit there with their hands neatly folded, waiting for fear to overwhelm their opponent.
Maybe they want to strike sooner, giving the enemy less time to prepare, and they follow through, causing problems for others involved that he may just have forgotten to tell...
So, long and short, don't be afraid to sprinkle your character with a nice dose of impatience, whether they be sidekick or hero or anything in between.
Thanks for reading this, and before I go, I'd like to recommend a website that has greatly helped me in my writing journey!
There is a fabulous Christian writing website called Kingdom Pen that has a ton of amazing articles on writing. I can’t say enough good about them; they have a wonderful forum full of supportive fellow writers, and they have articles covering just about every writing topic.
Well, that’s all I have for this post. Until next time,