The Writer in the Corner: On Characterization

A writer in one of my groups asked how to avoid cookie-cutter characters. That got me thinking about the main characters in my flash fiction. It’s what most of you know me for, I’m pretty certain.

So, who are my characters on What do they do…?

  • A creepy narrator commits murder of passion. [This one is a poem.]
  • A werewolf woman who owns a family-oriented coffee shop checks out a competitor’s shop.
  • A cowboy couple settles in for a rough night on the range after an attack by one of their vampire cows.
  • An imprisoned supervillain grieving for his sexy hero lover breaks out to relive his fantasies.
  • A vampire who works the night shifts as a guard returns home early to his perpetually playful boyfriend.
  • A royal servant remembers through a dream that he and his lover, one of his princes, have been spelled apart.
  • A custodian of rich people’s recreational space orbital is alerted to the need to harvest his illegally produced food early.
  • … and then there are my regular hivepunk characters, who will make this list overly long.

Whew, those characters don’t look the same. Even with knowing the characterization details left out of each story, I don’t see much in common. There are deliberate trends but not cookie-cutter characters. (Yay, me?)

Maybe the key is that details define the characters. The entrepreneurs–my werewolf, supervillain, and custodian–would respond in their own ways to any situation, and that’s because of the differences in their backgrounds and motivation.

Even the stories with the most similarities feature contrasting characters. A lesbian shapeshifter focused on maintaining a family-friendly, urban business that’s at odds with the flashier businessman down the street won’t have the same perspective as a high-tech gay (male) cowboy focused on surviving a cattle run with his injured partner. They can’t be the same, you know? Both care about business and vampiric threats. (tl; dr:) The details in their characterizations make them different.

A.M. Fals