Everyone is haunted by something.
Think of your own life.
(And I’ll think of mine.)
If you’re like me (and I suspect you are), then some pretty bad stuff happened, growing up. Foo-foo, I call it (technical term). This foo-foo interferes with how I think and respond. It makes me blow things out of proportion. It makes me react. And it makes me feel things BIG. Really B.I.G. Much bigger than they are.
Now, I’m not going to go into a spiel and get Freudian on you. But I am going to reflect, to think of this foo-foo dynamic, in relation to my characters. (Because if I’m feeelin’ it, my characters sure better be.)
What haunts my Hero?
(And is it big enough to cause a lot of anguish? Because I want anguish.)
But don’t stop there.
What haunts my antagonist? Why is he or she so, so, so horrid, anyway?
And let’s keep going….
(This is kinda fun.)
We have a whole cast of archetypes to put on the couch.
(Oops. I said I wasn’t going to do that. Oh well.)
What haunts my Mentor? What are his regrets?
What haunts my Trickster? What made him so feisty?
What haunts my Ally? How can that haunting put oodles of pressure on the hero-ally relationship?
Let’s keep going…
(We’re on a roll…)
How does my Hero’s haunting make him squirm,
before committing to the adventure?
How does my Hero’s haunting keep throwing foo-foo into his decisions?
How does my Hero’s haunting make him blow things out of proportion —
To react instead of respond —
To make things really B.I.G. —
Much bigger than they should be?
As usual, reflecting on building characters makes me ponder my own life…how I’m dealing with my hauntings, and how I’m going to work through foo-foo to be a more balanced, caring person.
We’re all haunted.
Give your characters foo-foo of the past.
(Some pretty significant stuff that interferes with their thinking and acting)
And while you’re at it, give them masks to wear, to try to hide the past.
(Significant masks. Because nobody likes to admit foo-foo.)
It’s the angst, the haunting, and the masks that result, that gives depth
to our characters.