|Characters: Creating Characters|
Our life style usually depends on how much money we have. Exceptions are those who live beyond their means or are misers. Both are good drama material. The way we get money and the way we 'see' money is an essential part of our character.
Here are a few ways of getting money:
Born to it. Having a good life style from the start and taking it for granted.
Inheriting it. Having your life style changed by suddenly getting more money. Though this may be qualified by conditions of inheritance. A common theme is someone who can only inherit money if they do certain things.
Winning it. Gambling is a lifestyle in itself. An alternative someone who wins by chance such as a lottery.
Earning it as a wage. Typical of most people. It is secure in the sense that people like to know money is coming in each week, but usually means that the lifestyle is constant.
Earning as a salary. Much the same as a wage but usually calculated on a yearly basis, and generally refers to professional work.
Earning it as a fee. Also refers to professional work, but usually specialised work as with consultants.
Freelance work. Typical of artists who spend much time out of work or looking for work. This area is more open to changes in lifestyle. An artist who may be poor for a long time and then becomes successful could have dramatic changes.
Cared for. Someone who doesn't earn any money but relies upon others to look after them. Children, elderly, ill, or in some cases wives who are totally dependent on the husband as the bread winner.
Crime. Some form of getting money without too much work. The risk varies with the crime. The basis of many stories.
Surviving without money. A whole range of stories from adventures of survival in hostile conditions, through to people who survive on less money than most feel possible.
Many fairy tales have money as the basis of them. Jack and the Beanstalk had Jack taking the giant's gold. Aladdin was about getting money. Cinderella had to get out of poverty. Rumplestiltskin could weave gold from straw. Seeking treasure is another common story. Oliver Twist discovered that he came from a rich family. The beauty in 'Beauty and the Beast' went with the beast because her father owed him money.
Money is a highly motivating force. Rags to Riches or the reverse is always a good starting idea.
Winnie-the-Pooh has many friends. Bugs Bunny seems to have none. Sherlock Holmes has Watson, but no one else. Pinocchio thinks everyone is his friend. Cinderella has no friends unless you count her pets. Snow White's friends are the dwarfs, though we feel they weren't real friends in the sense of people you share your hopes and fears with. One could not imagine James Bond having a close man friend, or even a close woman friend. He is a loner, which makes him suitable for the job he does. Mickey Mouse has friends but Donald Duck does not (though Daisy Duck makes the odd appearance). The extent that people have friends is a key attribute of their character.
One could not imagine Winnie-the-Pooh having an adventure without his friends. It would be the sharing of the experience that would be the satisfaction. On the other hand, Bugs Bunny would go single handed on an adventure. The satisfaction would be in the achievement. Bugs Bunny is happy to be alone.
When you create a character, think of the friends they might have, and the relationships formed. These have to be consistent. Some people, like celebrities, may have many friends yet are unable to form satisfying relationships. So often it comes as a surprise that well-known and outwardly happy people commit suicide, become drug addicts, alcoholics, and lead miserable lives in spite of having the wealth and company that most would envy.
Cyrano de Bergerac, and the Beast in 'Beauty and the Beast', felt they were unlovable because they were ugly. The morals to those stories are that it does not matter if you are ugly providing you have other redeeming features. Cinderella's ugly sisters could not compete with Cinderella because they had no worthy attributes. The Hunchback of Notre Dame also had ugliness as a problem.
It comes up in many forms as in 'The Picture of Dorian Grey' who was outwardly handsome, yet his picture showed an ugly face. Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde also used the idea of having one ugly and one handsome person. Snow White's stepmother was outwardly beautiful yet she was in reality an ugly witch. In many versions of Dracula and vampires the characters are beautiful and immortal yet ugly in their semi-dead forms.
The idea of having two sides to our character is an interesting concept. It requires developing two characters that have common identity yet different objectives. It can be in the obvious way of someone who is outwardly respectable yet knowingly leads a double life as with criminals, spies, and the like. It could be someone who is outwardly one sex yet in reality the other sex. It might be someone who is famous as a particular sort character, yet in reality is another sort. Celebrities who are outwardly happy and successful yet actually have unhappy lives. It might be twins, or someone with multiple personalities. It could be someone who has a double. In science fiction it might be someone's clone. Another science fiction idea is to have other worlds where we each have another identity. The alter ego of good and bad comes up in aspects of our conscience where we have the devil and the angel guiding us to do good or bad. There are similar ideas where we project our body so that our spirit can travel and see things we cannot physically see. Again, the idea of the soul being separate from the body is an aspect of the dual personality.
Just as Cyrano de Bergerac and the Beast in Beauty and the Beast felt they were unlovable because they were ugly, many many stories are based on the idea of wanting to be loved. Cinderella wanted to be loved but lacked the opportunity.
We may think we are loved when we are not as in the case of the Emperor in 'The Emperors new clothes'. Someone may love us yet we do not know it. Aladdin fell in love with the princess he saw passing by. A celebrity like Rudolf Valentino might be loved by many people. We can imagine Huckleberry Finn having friends even though he has no money. On the other hand, King Midas would have no friends due to his greed.
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