WHAT'S MY NAME? AND THE EIGHT ESSENTIAL ELEMENTS OF CHARACTER
It's a Rihanna song, a Muhammad Ali taunt, and, to my thinking, the first step in writing character. My six year old son comes up with a new character every week. His latest is a boy named Windmill Sin. Windmill Sin. I could write reams about that kid. But, no, he belongs to my son. That's his character not mine. For me, it always begins with a name. Atticus Finch, Holly Golightly, Keyser Söze, Hannibal Lector. Anyone from Dickens. The list goes on and on. So, we'll talk about names (and nicknames). We'll talk, too, about physical fact versus telling detail. The difference between a police report and a character sketch, and how they might meet on a parachuting skull or a scar shaped like a question mark. We'll talk about the bundle of desires and the hero's wound. About subjective perspective and specialized vocabulary. About panheads and slobknockers and blister bugs in pepper patches. We'll talk about Doritos and Daredevil, Hag and Tay Tay, and the art of “Naming the World.” We'll talk about my mother's red cowboy boots and my family in five knives. About why the crap in Ferris Bueller's pants pocket is so important. We'll talk about the airplane glue on my uncle's thumb, Dustin Hoffman's collection of gaits, Bogie's ear pull, and how Maurice Micklewhite learned to act by riding the London Tube. All that and a bag of “Boy Named Sue” (the only character model you'll ever need).