Of Quirks and Challenges

As much as I try to walk on water, it doesn’t happen – unless it’s frozen and then I get cold feet. So, why should my characters be perfect? That opens a whole world of challenges to explore. Perhaps, I have a sadistic streak, but I like to create folks that are believable. Nothing overt. Something subtle will do.

Over the years, I have created factsheets on all sorts of challenges from popping bubblegum to sociopathic behavior. That file is the second place I head when creating a character. (First is making them look like a statue of Apollo or Aphrodite before hitting them with the sledgehammer)

Constantly researching articles to help with character development, I came across a website that addresses a wide variety of emotional challenges. A reference that is quick and easily understood.


As example, a good-looking, middle-teen male is happy, grounded, and satisfied with the way life is going until a medical problem leaves him sterile.

That lands him in the throws of depression. A positive attitude turns negative, he sleeps less resulting in lethargic behavior. He eats less resulting in weight loss, and blames himself for what happened, although he had no control over the event. He happened to be in the wrong place, and as teenage boys will do . . .

“He chose poorly.”

Now, working toward the story’s primary goal, it’s no longer fair-weather sailing. One foot is stuck in the mud holding him back. Now, the reader will not be sure if he will successfully overcome the problem and win the day. Ah-h, Dudley Do-Right enters to give him a hand out of the quagmire. Hold on. It’s not that easy. The happy, grounded, satisfied, depressed young man is not the same who came on the scene in chapter one. The story goal is still there, he’s reaching for it, but he’s taken a different path which puts success in question.

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