Larger than life? I understood the concept. I mean, think about characters like Scarlett O'Hara in Gone With the Wind or Kunta Kinte in Roots or Celie in The Color Purple or Jack Reacher in the Lee Child novels.
Those characters are all larger than life. I could readily see how creating a larger than life character in drama would be much easier than creating one in romantic comedy which I wanted to write.
Larger Than Life = Memorable
After much thought, I decided that larger than life simply meant memorable--even unforgettable. After that mental breakthrough, I asked myself, "What makes a person memorable or unforgettable?"
I thought about some of the real people I had met in life like ninety-two-year-old Roy Barton who told me of leaving New York and heading west. He drove a limo, or a stagecoach as he called it, from Los Angeles to San Francisco for film stars as one of his jobs. Then he went to New Mexico territory with a friend and began writing up oil leases and built an empire on oil royalty leases.
I thought of my own maternal grandparents who grew up together, fell in love, but could not marry because my grandfather supported his widowed mother and his spinster sister, and my grandmother supported her widowed mother. The leap year before they married, my grandmother wrote a poem to my grandfather and proposed to him. This was in the day when family obligations meant everything. They didn't marry until their mid-forties, and they had only 1 child--my mom.
100 Years of Unforgettable
Ah, my grandfather was truly unforgettable. He was born in the latter part of the 19th century, and he lived to be 100. I was the eager audience for his stories of seeing Buffalo Bill Cody's Wild West Show with Annie Oakley and of his career of working on one of the many regional railroads that crisscrossed the country back then. He talked of getting his first car, a Ford Model T--no licenses required back then--and so many other adventures.
I thought of my dad who was a simple farm boy from Mississippi who joined the Army after Pearl Harbor and ended up in the D-Day invasion.
Who are the memorable people in your life? What makes them stand out in your memory? Identify those characteristics, and you have an idea of how to create a memorable character.
In developing your characters think about the attributes of real people and movie people. Then focus that kind of attention on your romance leading man.
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