Tuesday, May 11, 2010

COLUMN: Building Colorful Characters

Building Colorful Characters — Part 5

What is your first memory of your mother or that special woman who has been in your life from an early age? Which of her unique qualities paints your mind the most now whenever she taps your thoughts and spirit? Memories of our mother or that special lady linger with us, associated with her hair, hands, smell, clothing, speech, touch, looks, mannerisms, emotions, habits, mentality, education, skills, and so much more.

This month is dedicated to the memory and glory of the elements that represent the structure and being of a mother. Each time we celebrate mothers, we think of the many components that make up mothers and what makes them who and why they are. Whether the woman you remember as you read this has a mild or energetic personality, the one fact that we can surely state is that there are many “types” of mothers, some as human beings and others, as unique and colorful examples or models.
Adults often credit their success—or blame the lack thereof—on the type of upbringing and nurturing received by a mother. But what they’re also referring to is the person or components of the personality that influenced them. We become influenced as children by our mothers, and basically, the same applies as readers. We are affected, or influenced, by the mother aka storyline our characters are surrounded by or involved in. When readers are engaged in a story, they become involved with it—and this includes both the characters and their surroundings. Each of these components are guided by or ruled by the story, or as we’ll refer to today as the “literary mother”: her components, personality, character, habits, speech, looks, mentality etc. Each of them will make an impression on us, whether good or bad.

A writer can introduce great characters and have them dipped into the best of locations, but if the story, life, events, and challenges that they experience aren’t also real and colorful or mind-jarring to the reader, the engagement is lost and the marriage is not properly consummated. The mother—storyline—must be one that grabs the reader as well. Therefore, our stories have to live up to the same expectations that we have for our characters.

Just like human mothers, each story must own a unique personality (the plot, or foundation of your tale). Each story must own emotions—(which are the lessons and challenges presented in the tale). To name a few, the mannerisms and speech of the story are the style in which the tale is told; habits can be likened to the repetitive twists and turns; and chilling, dramatic, suspenseful, or romantic scenes may occur. The mentality and educational aspects of the mother aka story can be likened to the age level the tale is appealing to, or the viewpoint, morality, or religious thoughts the writer is seeking to portray or persuade within the story.
The story’s clothing can be said to be the time period and era the writer fashions for the tale. Skills of this mother can be the many buttons aka words or situations that pull at the readers’ emotions, or that beckons their thoughts, tickles their funny bones, or rubs their eyes to tears.

Each mother aka storyline must surround all of her characters with these components, raising them to either a level of maturity—which means the reader is brought to a pleasant and/or understandable ending, or a malnourished or unbelievable finish will occur, plunging the reader into disappointment or confusion.

Again, as with human mothers, a well written storyline or nurturing literary mother will leave the reader remembering the “smell” of her blossoms, feeling the cool of her night, sweating with the searing heat of her afternoon, hearing the clanging sounds of her church bells, the dazzle and shimmer of her table set with lavish foods and expensive china, cringing with each creak of the rickety steps of her haunted house or the creepiness from her damp, old, long-abandoned farmhouse. The mother will show as well as tell the fable.

Each mother, or story, has the responsibility to push each character and location she has birthed toward presenting its best through the hugs and exposure of her own colorful character.

Moreover, just like human mothers, there are many different types of stories. For instance, many mothers possess mild and calm demeanors, never raising their voices, yet maintaining a respectful and obedient household. A literary mother—story—can be an easygoing read with little drama or explosive action, yet it remains a captivating page-turner and true-to-life fable by engaging the readers with characters and events that are familiar and open to first, conflict, and later, change or revelations. The readers can recognize the challenges and look forward to seeing how the problems are solved and vindicated.

The mother/story in the process has:

1. Kissed you with curiosity through the gripping opening and introduction.

2. Hugged you with characters that take you by the hand into reality and believable reactions.

3. Stroked you with relatable problems/conflicts (the plot) through character drama and/or narrative—projected by personable accounts or flashbacks, or perhaps done creatively through a dream, etc.

4. Encouraged you to stimulate those thinking cells through yet more character drama and decision making. The reader tries to figure out what the “mother” will do next, or what will happen to her “children”—the characters.

5. Nurtured through solving the problems, exposing the lessons, and portraying the pros and cons of the situations projected.

Of course, every writer’s unique skills will showcase his or her mother/storyline in many different ways, illuminating colors and features different from other literary creators—all part of the true beauty of the craft.

However, we now know that vibrant characters and locations aren’t the only way to create an engaging and distinguished saga. The actual mother aka storyline must also be laced with the bells and whistles that tingle the fingers of our readers to continue to turn the pages, stimulate their minds, and remember the tale from its earliest personality to long after the story torches their hearts and spirits.
What colors do your literary mother bring to the characters that gather within her house?

Wordsmiths, remember, you can e-mail me with your creations, and I’ll post them here for all to meet and utilize. For your gifting, I’ll post a picture of your latest book and a link to your Web site.

Pens up! to building colorful characters the write way.

Rachel Berry has been gifted by our creator to be many things; on the list of these blessings are daughter, caregiver, wife, mother, grandmother, sister, best friend, aunt, published author & poet, motivational speaker, radio talk show host, mentor, columnist and community leader.

She has been a government employee for 24 years.

Rachel is the founder and president of Black Pearls United INC. (an African American sister-circle) which was founded in 2000.

Berry is also an alumni member of Toastmasters International where she has earned her CTM and has been awarded as Toastmaster of the Year.

Rachel is proudly promoting her books 'From The Heart And Heat Of Me.' and her novel ‘Family Pictures:’ the family saga of two women with too many secrets and the up and down relationships they have with those people they call family.

To arrange speaking engagements e-mail her at admin@blackpearlsunited.org. For book signings please e-mail her at rachelwrites2@yahoo.com. To preview and buy her books please visit her web site at
http://www.LuLu.com/RachelBerry & http://www.rachelberry.webs.com/

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