Make Your MC A Mix-Tape

No one Wants Pancake People

Recently there’s been a lot of buzz from agents and editors about problem characters. They’re getting some great story pitches, only to discover the hero and/or heroine are pancakes. Flat characters pull a reader from a story faster than a Coach sale pulls me from…well anywhere.

But how do we inflate those pancakes? PopEye blew in his finger. That has nothing to do with inflating characters, but I like the imagery.

I’m going to write a couple posts on getting to know your characters. I think it’s a fun exercise and lots of writers ask how they can go about it. The process will be different for everyone, but here’s one idea.

Make a playlist:

No matter who we are, music has touched our lives. Knowing what your main character has in their playlist, tells you a lot about them. Are they a classical enthusiast? A country boy at heart? A rocker? A punk? DO they love House music? Old school rap?

How diverse is the list? What does that tell you about them? If much of the music is from a generation ahead of their time, what does that reflect? Who introduced them to those songs?

How about this? Does an otherwise straight-laced, uptight, CPA have a closet filled with classic hairband music? How did he get from 80’s rocker to a suit? None of us are only what we see on the surface. Your characters shouldn’t be either. We have a rich history of life experiences that shaped who we became.

Knowing what your characters listen to will help you as a writer build a backstory. The backstory doesn’t need included into the story at hand, but it will help you tell it. Learning more about who they are will guide you as you write their story. You’ll learn about their motivations. Music rounds people, influences people, inspires people. Your characters are the same.

While you’re at it, have you considered a ‘theme song’ for your work? Something you can play before you begin each day or to get you through a difficult scene? Adding music can be a great asset in writing. Don’t limit your creativity, shove it open wide.

So, tell me…what’s your MC listening to?


1 comment to Make Your MC A Mix-Tape

  • My current MC is a bit of a country girl. Sure she likes to shake her money maker, but she’s all country and calls on those sometimes quirky lyrics to get her through a fight with her dad.

    Besides, if you don’t have mud on the tires, what’s a truck good for?

    Thanks Julie. I always turn to music for inspiration.

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