Often, we define a character, as a jokester, someone who is a class clown, but in the world of writing, to me, a character is someone who is a person of depth. It also means someone who has courage, integrity, is humble, but more than that, it is someone who is unforgettable. Whether you are writing an article, book or screenplay, your characters need to have these qualities and more. A real character is someone you have to turn the page and keep reading about. You can’t take your eyes off the screen because they are so fascinating and you don’t know what they are going to do next. Their story has to be compelling, of course, but someone can have a compelling story and not be all that interesting. A character has grit, and not afraid to speak his or her mind. A real character is often so brave in going after life that they make you want to hold your breath. But, a real character is also a joy to watch because their laughter and zest for life is contagious.
Take my new friends, Viola and Fermin. Viola has the joy after much tribulation in her life taking care of Fermin, who has the grit to still keep on living. Fermin has had two knee surgeries, two back surgeries and all kinds of health ailments, but he went to another friend of mine, who has the gift of healing, but he never takes the credit. He gives it all to God. So, when my friend, Hoa, helped Fermin to heal and then Fermin went back to the doctors, they were just dumb-founded. They kept looking and looking at their X-rays and tests (Fermin had a lot of tests) and decided that he didn’t need a liver transplant after all, and that his kidneys are fine. What does this have to do with writing characters? Sometimes life is better than fiction. Some stuff we could never make up, that’s why I love to write true stories.
I could write a lot about Fermin. His personality, like John Wayne, fills the space he walks and talks in. His incredible story is better than anything I could make up, and his character, is even better. Fermin and Viola are Texans and that says a lot right there. Because everything is bigger in Texas, and Texans aren’t afraid to speak their minds. And, that’s a whole lot of dialogue!