When creating a character, I take bits and pieces of actual people, other characters, and I twist them and mix them into something new. I exaggerate certain aspects. I take some character trait that is the result of a plethora of complicated circumstances, and simplify it.
And sometimes I get so into my characters that I start feeling for them… often more than I really should. 😛 I have a terrible time killing off a character. It rarely happens in my stories. Conflict is difficult for me. I want everyone to be happy, even if they’re fictional lol!
Today I was thinking about those women who are labeled over-dramatic. The swooners. The shouters. The ones who always seem to have a larger-than-life dose of drama.
But are these real women really like that? Well, I’ve known quite a few. A high school friend who would become extremely depressed over any little thing. Looking back, I believe she had clinical depression or some other mental illness, and I don’t think she was getting the help she needed. When I was a Resident Director at a local college, there were several teenagers (18 might make you an adult, but you’re still a teenager) who would take any small setback and turn it into a mega-disaster. This was simple immaturity.
Are there characters like that? Sure. There’s a common theme in fiction (and perhaps in life) that the typical guy starts to mess up his relationship with his wife or girlfriend, and she tries talking to him, or letting him know in various non-dramatic ways that she’s unhappy, but he doesn’t listen until she actually breaks up with him, or she throws a huge fit.
OK, back to real life. Yes, this does happen. The sad thing is, these women often end up labeled “drama queen” or worse. But what happened all those times she spoke softly and politely about her concerns? How many times was she ignored? If she tried hundreds of times to make her needs known in a calm, mature manner and it had no effect, then it’s not right to label her a drama queen if once out of those hundreds of times she ended up losing her composure and causing a scene.
Although complicated characters make good fiction, no character is ever as complicated as a real woman. In a story, a writer might say “The frustration of having gone unheard for so many years finally built up into something she couldn’t control.” In reality, a woman on the edge probably has a cauldron of causes leading up to the big moment. Frustration. Hormones. The little things that shouldn’t matter but do; those hot buttons we all have that other people just don’t understand. It’s more than a writer could or should put into a work of fiction.
So tell me…
1) Do you know real women who are labeled drama queens when they really didn’t deserve the label?
2) As a writer, how do you make your audience understand the difference between a character who is an immature, rightfully-labeled drama queen and a character who goes over the edge only when pushed too far?
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