If you were a teenager in the late eighties...you had to have heard of the movie Heathers. If you haven't, then let me explain. The movie takes place in a fictional high schoool and plays on the stereotypes of cliques. Theres the jocks, the stoners, the band geeks...and the gorgeous girls that everyone both loathes and envies. In the movie Heathers, the queen bees are all named Heather. Except for one...whose name is "V" is for Veronica. She, as it turns out, is not a vapid mean person. It just turned out that she is beautiful and rich and therefore thrust into existence with others of her kind.
Well the movie gets interesting when a new guy comes to school and starts wreaking havoc among the student body. The dark comedy demostrates, in exaggerated fashion, the destructiveness of simply following along with the herd and blindly copying the popular kids. Plus...they blow stuff up, which in my opinion, is really great film making. Thing is that although he is obviously dangerous and turns her life upside down, Veronica can't help herself...she's totally gone for this guy.
The reason I love this film is that the main character's love interest is played by Christian Slater and he does the most awesome job of capturing the dangerous allure of a bad boy. Granted he eventually tries to blow up the school, he is what I used to swoon over...cavalier, risk-taking, smooth talking...a bad influence if my mother ever warned me about one. But the charater Slater created was more than a rebel without a cause, or a misunderstood youth. He was funny and sarcastic, wicked-smart, and had a dark sense of humor. He was not an cliche, or an archetype...he rang true.
In fiction there are several archetypal personalities to build on for a love interest. Theres The Playboy - a ladies man, loves women, charming You have the Alpha Personality - think spy or fighter pilot, an adrenaline junkie. Then we have my personal favorite, The Bad Boy - he's all fast cars, swagger, and wrong side of town. Finally we have Wounded Dude - he's the guy whose family died, or lost a partner in a shoot out or something sufficiently torturous for him to brood over.
There are other archetypes; The Nice Guy who ends up being an Alpha, etc. But thats all they are, a framework. Its up to the writer to layer in the personality quirks, mannerisms, and a voice that makes it clear why the heroine is attracted to and flustered by the love interest you've provided.
What are some of the things you use to layer a character? Do you base them on people you've met? I'd love to hear what you do to make a character real to you as a writer and by extension, your readers. Until next time...Go Write!
Raquel writes across several genres including YA Steampunk and Gothic Mystery. Always looking for another adventure in which to partake she is never seen without her notebook.
As a teen she couldn't get enough Bradbury, Asimov, Poe, or Matheson. They informed her love of science fiction, mystery, and thrillers. One of her favorite stories is Something Wicked This Way Comes. It changed the way she looked at scenery and the world around her.
After finishing school, marrying, and starting a family, Raquel realized she'd fallen away from her love of the written word. She began in earnest in 2000 to hone her craft and connect with other authors and book lovers.
She connected with an agent and after signing with him, sold two series. One, a suspense series that also sold into foreign translation, and the other a dark Gothic mystery. Currently working on YA Speculative Fiction she endeavors to bring the same edgy characters and thrilling pace to the project.