I can’t count the number of articles and blog posts I’ve read about how to create real characters who breathe and step off the page. The central concept that so often keeps coming up over and over again is that you have to find some personal experience of your own, some form of the emotion you’re trying to impart in your character, and ascribe it to your character–even if you have to exaggerate or expand on it. It’s been postulated that this is what is really meant by the old adage of writing what you know. It’s not literally what you have experienced or what “really” happened. It’s taking your range of human emotional experience and using that in the canvas of fiction. For example, if my heroine lost the love of her life to an awful accident, I guarantee I would pull from the agony I felt when we lost our beloved dog last year to a freak accident (she was absolutely our child). You have to find ways to really empathize with your characters, even that bad ones, so that you can hang out in their shoes while you write.
So in that line of thought, I had something of a breakthrough with Knox last night. Apart from Pot helping me figure out what yesterday’s cryptic comment meant, I think I finally figured out how to identify with him. How?
Well after a particularly crappy day at the Evil Day Job, it occurred to me that one of Knox’s primary motivating factors is the fact that he feels underutilized, under appreciated, and completely wasted at his job. Hello. I feel that almost every day. Have felt that at almost ever job I have had since I got out of college because none of it is what I want to actually DO for a living and because by and large one’s degree has absolutely zilch to do with what kind of employment they’re able to acquire. I’ve got a lot of residual bitterness that the real world doesn’t care about good grades, academic accolades, or honest to God knowledge and that what my parents taught me (work hard in school, get scholarships, go to college, work harder, graduate with honors, get good job) is no longer true. It’s better since I finished my Master’s degree a few years ago, but as someone who spent approximately 18 years defining herself by academic achievements, the real world was a big shock. Some days it induces such a rabid rage that I wind up coming home and writing particularly gruesome murder scenes. I don’t at all think it is a coincidence that my most twisted serial killers were envisioned during particularly crappy periods with my jobs. /rant
What does this have to do with Knox? He spent years training and grooming himself to be alpha only to have it denied him.
So hey, Knox? Let me buy you a beer buddy…