Life’s a Pitch
March 7, 2011
Y2K11 Spring Break: Young Adult Books to Look Forward To
March 15, 2011

Everytime I sit down to start a new story or work on edits for one, I’m always looking for ways to make my characters unique or quirky or super interesting. I’ve come to a conclusion. The people who really know how to do this, and who do it with tremendous skill and constancy, are the writers of TV shows. Especially sitcoms.

Sheldon from The Big Bang Theory is one example. I mean, the comedic timing he has, the quirks of his character never stops entertaining. The latest episode for example was hysterical. Sheldon, who so frequently acts superior to his “less-intelligent” friends, spent the entire episode trying to figure out how one of his friends was doing a card trick – you know the pick a card any card one. He tried and tried to figure the trick out using science and math and infared cameras and hacking government satellites. He even barcoded the back of a deck and used a “magic wand” to scan the card, which then sent a text message to his cell phone.

The more he tried to figure it out, the more his friends played the game, taking turns over and over picking cards and every time the friend doing the guessing got the card right. As the show progressed, and Sheldon’s frustration at not being able to figure it out grew, the character quirks became funnier and funnier. At the end, it was finally revealed to the audience how the trick was done, but never to Sheldon so even when Sheldon selected the guard to be guessed the trickster got it right.

The beauty of this sort of character development isn’t in just one character. It seems to rest in the interactions the characters have with each other. Interestingly enough, it’s the same sort of thing Heather and I were just talking about yesterday morning. It’s like the dynamics of certain people in a group. You can enjoy the company of someone one-on-one, maybe in small doses or large, but it takes a special blend of people to build the sorts of relationships we want to find in our books. Those relationships where you know that you can be yourself, you don’t have to worry about sugar coating your opinion or entertaining each other or finding the relationship to be an effort. My favorite characters, whether they’re in books or movies or tv shows or life are those with rich relationships all around.

How about you? What are some characteristics of your favorite characters who pop? Who are they?


  1. Elizabeth says:

    Jim and Derek from Kate Daniels series. When put together with kate and curran they make scar situations funny.

  2. Damon from Vampire Diaries. I admit it. The character is great, an enigma and he get's some great lines.

  3. Angi Morgan says:

    Funny characters: Chuck & Sarah. Even though they're engaged this season, the tension is still high, the characters are developing and the audience is still interested.