I know you are scratching your head right now and thinking what the heck does Justin Bieber have to do with writing? Well for me, in a recent instance, a lot.
Yes, I have a tween in the house, and I got dragged last weekend to JB’s opening night on his world tour. And in case you missed it, although it was all over the papers and on YouTube, he did throw up all over the stage in the middle of his set. Yes, we were close enough to witness, but thankfully far enough away not to smell!
As JB struggled through his last songs, trying to make the “show go on,” my close friend made a brilliant observation. As we watched this poor kid turn three shades of green while dancing, she said, “this will prove to the kids that he’s human.” That comment stuck with me and I’ve been thinking about it every day since.
We see celebrities as cardboard cut-outs most of the time. Their faces are splashed across magazines. We judge them for what they wear, what they eat, and how many DUIs they’ve had, but most of the time we don’t really see them as human beings. Living, breathing, three-dimensional characters.
This had me pondering my own characters in my manuscripts. Had I built them as one-dimensional beings? Were they simply cardboard cut-outs on the page? Either all good or all bad?
Was my villain a total cliché, with no redeeming value, so my reader would never connect with him?
What about my protagonist? Was she so sweet, and unassuming, that she was also totally unbelievable?
These are questions that burned in my brain after the concert, and made me go back to my MS and give my characters a serious once over.
If they weren’t living and breathing on the page, what could I do to make them stronger? What stones could I throw at them to make the reader connect with them?
I needed to make them bleed. Make them cry. Make them sick. Just make them real.
This brought my MS into a totally new light, and I’ve been toiling every day since, trying to make my characters truly believable.
And just so you know, JB blamed his sickness on drinking whole milk before the concert. Just one more way he proves he’s a three-dimensional character. Rock star on the outside. Growing kid on the inside. A shining example to all of us writers on how to write a multi-layered character.