Personality Makeover

Yesterday I gave a character a personality makeover.

He and my protagonist were supposed to have chemistry. (Chemistry will probably get a blog post all its own. Because WTH do I mean by chemistry?) There’s more between them than just chemistry, but I’m not going to tell you all about it just now. In spite of my best intentions, though, he and Mitzy just had nothing. Zip. Blah. There was no spark between them.

I got to thinking about it, and I realized that the two characters just had nothing in common. They’re supposed to be friends (or more..?), but their relationship was a working one, a partnership born of convenience, not one of true admiration or liking. They didn’t even have any shared interests.

This happens sometimes. Characters just plain don’t click. On Friends, the writers made the mistake of giving Joey and Rachel a more-than-friends relationship, after nine years of sexual tension and history between Ross and Rachel. It just didn’t work, to the degree that the writers actually wrote the wrongness of that relationship into the show. After their first real date, whenever Joey tried to kiss or touch Rachel, she ended up slapping him: funny as a bit, but also a result of their lack of chemistry. It was just wrong.

My characters aren’t meant to have perfect chemistry, but they are meant to be friends. So what’s an author to do, when she discovers her characters don’t click?

Why, give the less-important character a personality makeover, of course!

I’m still in revision-mode, so I’m able to do this. A few slight alterations to the male character (which of course will lead to some significant scene rewrites), and he will have more in common with my better-developed protagonist. Their dialogue will lighten up, their interactions will be sexier, and Mr. Relationship-man will have a reason to stick around once he no longer needs my protagonist as a contact.

You can’t force two people to have chemistry, even when they’re fictional. Sometimes two personalities just don’t mesh, and that’s okay.

Luckily, when they’re fictional, you can change their personalities.

Have you ever had to revamp a character’s personality to make a plot-point work or to make him click with another character?

4 thoughts on “Personality Makeover

  1. That’s what I’m doing at the moment, actually. I had two very flat characters that were little more than plot devices with a few lines of dialogue, and in fleshing them out I discovered what could be one of my favorite character relationships in the entire book.

    • That’s fantastic! It’s always great to discover a gem where just a flat stretch of dirt had been before.

      It’s also a trouble, though, because fleshing out one-dimensional characters can often create plot-bunnies. I ran into this in my first book: I created a secondary character who was so interesting I wanted to write a book just about her, too. It’s still on the list for someday.

  2. LOL! I love this. You always have the best things to say. And I absolutely fell in love with the idea of changing someone’s personality in order to have another character fall for them.

    It’s just unfortunate these things don’t run so smoothly in life; my boyfriend still doesn’t listen to me.

    • LOL. Well, I don’t suggest trying to rewrite him. Real people can actually resist such treatment… or so I’m told.

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