A Flat Character With Promising Bubbles

The character I am interviewing today is one which I am fully expecting to be weak.  She will probably be two-dimensional, despicable, but not the way you might want, and rather stereotypical.  Most of the supporting characters with large parts in the story turn out that way, I’ve found.  But this interview might fix all of that in one swell foop.  She was born on Earth but goes to Vorse during the course of the story.  Her name is Angelica and her correspondent’s is Rowena.  We’ll focus on Angelica.

  1. What is her occupation?  Teenager?  She’s fourteen and likes drawing, that’s all I know…  Her father was hired to a sanitation company by David’s suggestion.  Her mother is dead.  She has an older brother off on his own who hasn’t let them know where he is for years.
  2. What are her obsessions?  Art.  Drawing.  She draws on her hand, pieces of scrap paper, or even book margins if she has nothing else to draw on.  She takes fairly good likenesses, too.  Her favorite color is yellow, so don’t be surprised if your face comes out looking like it just ate too much pudding.
  3. What is her dream?  To find her brother and draw with him.  (He’s also an artist.)  And to draw the view from Mount Everest one day.  She aspires to a lot, but she doesn’t often look at the probabilities of her dream futures.
  4. Mental conditions?  None, besides the inherent amnesia from traveling to Vorse.  Since we’re focusing on Angelica, however, we won’t go into that any more than we have.
  5. What is she good at?  Sketching, mostly.  She flatters herself that she’s good at painting, but anything beyond watercolor is almost too much.  She’s also good at convincing herself that she will be good at painting someday.  She’s also the best striker on her soccer team (apologies to the British, but I’m from the US and she is too), and can draw with her feet.  Not well, but hey, it’s better than me.
  6. What is she bad at?  Music, speaking in public, acting (as in theater, not attitude), most of the other arts.  She can’t hold in a sneeze to save her life, so don’t put her in that position.  She’s also terribly afraid of choking.  Nothing goes around her neck without either a lot of screaming (if it was unexpected) or a lot of trepidation (if purposeful).  She doesn’t see the effects of actions very well, and often makes stupid decisions.  She doesn’t obsess about perfection, but this is also a fault when she doesn’t want to correct her mistakes.  She also can barely write legibly.  She makes wide, bold strokes, but they’re so sloppy that often the words are incomprehensible even though they look beautiful.  She often resorts to drawing her messages instead.
  7. Where is she from?  Hmmm…  Putting a location on her would put a location on Gooplebury, and I don’t want that.  Gooplebury is in the US, but more than that is not said.  Let’s just say she’s from Flooplebury for now, eh?  I’ll probably change the name later.  It’s a three-hour drive from fair Gooplebury, where we lay our scene.
  8. What is her biggest accomplishment?  She’s young; she can’t have too many.  If you must know, she’d have to choose between the obvious: getting an award for some art she did, or winning the local soccer tournament.  If it was me, I’d say that her biggest accomplishment was almost dying.  When she was about five, she was attacked by a drawstring bag.  Somehow the strap wound around her neck and as she pulled at the wrong end, it tightened.  Her brother, four years older, was able to free her.  This contributed greatly to both her love of her brother and to her fear of choking.
  9. What is her age?  I believe I answered this: fourteen.
  10. What does she love?  As much as can be imagined after she hasn’t met him in years, her brother.  Her father.  Need I say it?  Art.  And no, she does not have a boyfriend named Art.  She likes pangolins, though she’s never seen one except in pictures.  That sprung from a reading mistake when she was young.  She used to like pandas, and one day when she picked up a nature magazine in a hair salon she saw “pangolin” in a title and thought it said “panda”.  (Don’t ask me why.  She was young.)  She begged her mom (then still living) to read it to her, and became so fascinated with the little scaly things that she never stopped loving them.  Contrary to what this anecdote may seem to highlight, she is a good reader.  Favorite book: the Warriors series.  (She likes animals and animal fiction, okay?  It isn’t as if this is my personal bio.  I keep feeling like I’m going to be judged by my characters.  If that were the case, I’d like to be judged by a better character than this.)

So.  Did Angelica live up to my expectations of being flat, boring and rather stereotypical?  Absolutely.  Will I be hardheaded and use her anyway?  Absolutely.  Will I eat one more broiled squid before bed?  No, unless I want another strange character-inspiring dream.  Which might not be amiss, considering this character…  And guess what?  Fathom, the main character, is probably going to be even worse than Angelica.  I’ll try to make his review interesting by making up a lot of stuff in a short period of time, thinking the least amount possible, but that might not work.  There are two ways to make a character flat: 1) bulldozer, 2) spend too much time on everyone else.

These two characters, Angelica and Fathom, only work because of the amnesia when they enter Vorse.  They won’t need backgrounds, in that case.  Just stick a few weird things about themselves that they don’t remember acquiring, and voila!  (Stop running; I did not say “viola”.)  Ready-made characters: just add water.  Stir and [hopefully] enjoy.

Note: I wrote this outline a few weeks ago, and then wrote another one that was even worse, and added a few things to this one and have now posted it.  Thus, my conclusion here might be slightly amiss, since I have striven to make Angelica much more three-dimensional since I first wrote this out.  Hopefully she’ll work.  Lashings of apologies for any confusing statements– I had to change everything on short notice, and there were too many hilarious jokes about making flat characters in that conclusion for me to rewrite it.

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  1. Hello, Liam! First of all, she sounds like an interesting character. Somewhat like me with all the art whatnot, but not at all like me in the soccer area *shudders*. I can’t kick a soccer ball to save my life. So let’s hope that I’m never kidnapped and told that unless I kick a soccer ball it all ends….

    But enough about me.

    I hereby nominate thee [hey! Don’t run away, you have no idea what I went through to get this to you] for the……………….


    Huzzah. Here’s the link: http://seanajvixen.blogspot.com/2012/07/top-blog-award.html

    • Mother-Daughter Book Club. Miss Vixen’s and my sister’s favorite series, by Heather Vogel Frederick. As far as I can figure, four girls and their mothers read certain classics and somehow manage to make their lives line up with the classics’ characters’ lives. I think.

  2. Well, some other middle-grade fiction is quite good…

    • *four fingers held up* Whatever.

      • Underland Chronicles
        Echo Falls Mysteries
        Kiki Strike series

        Some examples I thought of off the top of my head… I’m too tired to think of more…

      • That isn’t what I meant. I’d say that all three of those– only judging from the first example– are middle grade fantasy. That’s different from middle grade fiction, which would be something like Beverly Cleary or Harry Potter without the magic.

  3. I drew a picture of a cat with my toes once. So did my siblings and my mom… I think we were bored that day, or something. Of course, it was a horrible drawing, but my mom wouldn’t let me throw it away.

    • It was probably unwittingly magical or something.

      • Not at all. My mom just doesn’t like me to throw any drawings away… probably because at certain points in time, I have been completely willing to throw my entire drawing notebook away.

      • That’s good. I mean, there’s a time when it gets really depressing to look back at what you’ve drawn before, but there’s also a time when you look back and everything you drew was hilarious. Keep them around.

      • Yeah, true. There’s also those times when looking back and seeing the mistakes you made is encouraging, because that’s when you can truly see how much you’ve improved.

      • Indeed.

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