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Friday, September 24, 2010

Creating Compelling Characters

This morning Elana Johnson, Alex J. Cavanaugh and Jennifer Daiker are hosting The Great Blogging Experiment. I'm tagging along in addressing "Writing Compelling Characters".
The first thing that came to mind when I signed up for this blogfest was one of my characters that has the ability to compel others to do her will.

Every student in the school was crowded into the gym for the mandatory pep rally. “Come on everybody! Up on your feet! Do it with me people! Give me an R! Gimme an A! Now an M and an S! Who are we? The Rams!” The Compulsion Cassie was throwing out into the packed gym was even reaching me at the back of the bleachers. She really had a thing for school spirit. Of course, I had learned how to fend off her Compulsions years ago.


“Are you positive that you and Cassie are truly siblings? I know your facial characteristics are strikingly similar, but personality-wise…”

“Ryan, believe me, some days I wish it weren’t true. Like today, with her jumping around and screaming at the top of her lungs in front of the whole school.”

“Why?” Kayla, like so many other girls in my class, idolized my older sister. “She’s an incredible motivator. It’s as if you believe you can do anything just because she says you can. Her energy and drive are contagious. She’s just so…”

“Compelling?”

Kayla tilted her curly blond head, almost bonking me with her halo. “I don’t know if that’s the word I would use.”

Ryan screwed up his face in thought, and then nodded. “Yes, I agree, that word fits her. She has an attractive and compelling personality.”

“You don’t know the half of it,” I mumbled under my breath.

“What was that?”

“Nothing. At least I can be hopeful she’ll be hoarse after this and won’t be able to nag me for a couple of days.”

A roar of the crowd that rivaled the rumblings of my gut brought my attention back to the middle of the gym, where the Rams football team came trotting in, one by one. Last, but not least –at least in his mind – came the swaggering Bobby Gentry, star quarterback. I often wondered what kind of a loser he would be in real life – I mean without the influences of his girlfriend, head cheerleader and class president, my peppy and overzealous sister.

Some people are more easily influenced than others. Bobby was a lump of clay and Cassie was the sculptor. If she ever entered politics, that girl would rule the world. And Mom thought she had her hands full with me.

My attention was snagged once again as the next player came wondering into the gym from the change rooms. He was in uniform, but it was different. It was the same white with red and black trim as the Rams’ away game uniforms, but the style was slightly different. The other players in the gym were wearing the solid red home game uniforms with black trim. This guy carried his helmet in his hand. He looked at the crowd, bewildered. Behind him, more players, just as bewildered, filed in. Some of these players were covered in soot, others in blood with their uniforms tattered.

The rest of the gym’s occupants carried on with their fanatic football worship service, oblivious to the second team entering the room. All at the same moment, the team stopped and stared at me. I recognized some of them from the photo hung outside the change room doors. This gym had been built as a monument to the 1982 Rams football team that had all been killed in a bus crash.

Crap. Halloween was officially in full swing.

20 comments:

Elana Johnson said...

Oh, I like how you related it to a character. The most compelling characters are the ones that can tell a story in a way that we want to keep reading it. Great job!

Colene Murphy said...

Awe, really cool! Thanks for all the insight!

Stephen Tremp said...

That's a pretty cool character, one who is able to get others to do their bidding, either through control or manipulation. Makes the character that much more creepy.

Stephen Tremp

Meredith said...

I love that Cassie is able to compel people--that's so cool! And I love the ending of this snippet--I want to know more!

DLCurran said...

I love that Cassie used her compulsion on her classmates... I can't wait to see her use it in other situations!

Melissa said...

OOOOO! What interesting characters. I love how you took the compelling characters concept and related it to your own work. Excellent.

Dominique said...

Oh, my gosh, I must know how this ends!

Quinn said...

I like that you relate this to a character you've written. I'm also interested in the compulsion ability. I'm guessing Cassie and her ability has something to do with the old team coming back to life -- assuming that is what happened at the end.

J.C. Martin said...

Cool! Yours is the first entry that'sa ctually a story! And a pretty cool one--describes the word 'compelling' pretty well!

VR Barkowski said...

Awesome! Loved that you decided to show compelling with one of your characters rather than tell us how to get there. Great Snippet!

Farmer*swife a/k/a Glass_Half_Full said...

Caught 'my' attention! Nice WIP share! Thanks for visiting my blog! ;-)

N. R. Williams said...

I liked that we learn about the compelling character through the sister's eyes. Very nice.
Nancy
N. R. Williams, fantasy author

gargimehra said...

Great example, thanks for sharing. Illustrates the topic very well, I think.

Lyla said...

Ooh, that's an interesting gift Cassie has! I'm rethinking wanting flight as my superpower now!

Pam Torres said...

Great example. Very brave comment: "fanatic football worship service". Especially, this time of year! Enjoyed your writing!

Nicole Zoltack said...

Great post, I really enjoyed it.

Sandra Ulbrich Almazan said...

Nice excerpt! I also agree that characters who have the ability to influence others can make for compelling reading.

Jaime Theler said...

Now that's an ability that could get someone into a lot of trouble. Great excerpt!

Margo Berendsen said...

Have read dozens of these compelling characters post, but this one was different! Literally compelling, what a great idea.

Arlee Bird said...

I cannot believe how long it's taking me to get thru this blogfest.
That was a very different approach--a compelling piece about a compelling character who is compelling. Or something like that.

Lee
Tossing It Out