Memorable Characters? Who Needs ‘em?
by John Zunski
I was recently asked during a radio interview about characterization. Wait, let me back up… unless you’re already a fan and you’re reading this you maybe wondering who the hell is John Zunski and why should I care? My short answer: If you like memorable characters, it might behoove you to introduce yourself to my imaginary friends. They make their residence in Cemetery Street and Shangri-La Trailer Park.
In my humble opinion, great characters are high octane fuel for the story engine. Without deep characters a high-performance plot will ping and knock. Not to mention, memorable characters come with their own stories. Think about your family, friends, or neighbors: the memorable ones all have great stories, or even better, they have unique if not bizarre traits. Ask Barnum and Bailey, they made a name for themselves promoting such characters.
“John, they exploited those poor folks.”
Maybe… but, let me ask you this. Who’s more interesting?
Granny A is navigating a shopping cart through crowded aisles. She’s tired, the two year-old throwing a tantrum in the candy aisle annoys her, and the inattentive parent angers her, but she says nothing and politely ambles by.
Granny B hops onto an electric shopping cart. She hangs her cane from the handle bar and pulls in front of young couple pushing a cart. “Watch where you’re going,” she snaps. She finds a crowded aisle and steers down it. “Get out of my way,” she barks grabbing her cane, threatening to poke those in front of her. “I’m in a hurry; I don’t have much time left.”
I don’t know about you, I would rather know Granny A, she’s probably a dear person and bakes great cookies, but, boring! Without question, I want to read about Granny B. I find myself wishing that if I make her age that I’ll have such gumption.
“John, that’s well and good, but Granny B isn’t believable.”
Dear reader, you haven’t shopped at my local Wal-mart.
Please help me save my sanity; help stop me from shopping at Wal-mart. How? Check out Cemetery Street. You may fall in love with my imaginary friends, and then I could shop at a real grocery store.