Passionate Characters

by Victoria C. Anderson

I like words. I like writing, I like reading, I like rolling new words around on my tongue, in my mind. As a corollary, I like punctuation. I think I’m going to get a semi-colon tattoed on my wrist, because I just like semi-colons that much. (I really really do.)

On the other hand, my fiance likes video games. He is a pro at call of duty, but even more impressive is his ability to watch the market on EVE online for hours at a time looking for someone who has priced their spaceship for sale low enough that he can make some ISK off buying it and selling it at the market price. And he loves doing that sort of thing. He’s done it in every MMO video game that he’s ever played.

I can’t understand how he finds that search so engrossing that he can spend hours doing it, and I don’t think he quite understands how I can sometimes spend a whole say sitting on our living room couch, reading.

The point I’m trying to make here, is that I believe that everyone has one (or maybe two, or three, but at least one) thing that they love doing, that they can lose themselves in for hours at a time. Everyone. And it may not make sense to you, you may not understand how they get their enjoyment out of it, but they do, and the feeling of enjoyment, of flow, is much the same, no matter what the activity is. This goes for people, but I also believe that it goes for characters as well.

The main character of my novel-in-progress, Rowan, is a ship designer. She loves sketching airships, loves making sure that all the parts inside fit and work together to create a great flying machine. This is the job that she wants to do for the rest of her life; this is the thing that she loves doing. When she has free time, when she is alone, this is what she likes to do.

Don’t get me wrong, Rowan is a lot of other things. I spent hours and hours trying to figure out this character, planning her physical appearance and personality and family ties before I realized what she loved doing – and the thing is, it’s what she wants to do with her free time that told me the most about her. It’s the thing that she wants to do that informs what choices she’ll make, how her family treats her, which will off course in turn affect her as well… And so on an so forth.

The point I’m trying to make here is that its a shallow kind of character that doesn’t have wants, likes, and goals. That doesn’t have a passion. Because who do you know that doesn’t have a passion for something?