Everyone is multi-faceted. We have the side of us we show to family and friends and the side we show to the world at large. Some people have sides they only show in very private moments and still others have sides no one but themselves ever see.
Or refuse to see.
Saturday Morning Videos
I’ve never been a huge fan of country music. I do enjoy it once in a while for a change of pace. It wasn’t until this weekend while I was channel surfing that I landed on CMT (Country Music Television). The one that made me stop and watch was a video featuring Uncle Cracker and Kid Rock. What struck me about it was the way it told a story so well. It was like a little mini-novel. And the more videos I watched, the more I saw how many songs in the country genre tell better stories than other genres.
One in particular by Blake Shelton caught my attention with the title alone: Who Are You When I’m Not Looking? Take a moment to watch the video above if you haven’t already and really pay attention to the lyrics:
My oh my, you’re so good-looking
Hold yourself together like a pair of bookends
But I’ve not tasted all your cooking
Who are you when I’m not looking?
Do you pour a little something on the rocks?
Slide down the hallway in your socks?
When you undress, do you leave a path?
Then sink to your nose in a bubble bath?
What I found so intriguing about this was this song summed up another aspect of character creation. Who is your character behind the scenes? The questions he asks his girlfriend could easily be ones you ask your own character. All of the quirks he sings about make me want to know the answer to too!
Nature and Demeanor
Just like you, your characters have a face they show the world and a face they keep to themselves. This is known as nature and demeanor.
Nature is the personality inside. The easiest way to keep both terms straight is to think Nature = Natural. This aspect of personality takes no effort at all for the character. It may be what they lapse into when they’re utterly relaxed and safe, or even at the other end of the spectrum in high stress situations where they can’t think about keeping up the facade of demeanor.
Demeanor is the way your character conducts himself in public. This aspect is all about social graces, or lack of. It’s how a character interacts with strangers and casual acquaintances. This is the side reserved for the outside world.
Many times when we start out creating characters we’re focused on the demeanor, the outside behaviors. The real fun happens when we take a close look at a character’s nature. What are they like behind closed doors? Does that wealthy socialite drink milk right out of the carton when nobody’s looking? How about that professional chef who comes home after a long day in the kitchen and throws a frozen dinner into the microwave?
The truly interesting part isn’t just about making up cliche opposites, the real spark of life comes in the reasons why these characters natures are the way they are.
Take a look at the character you created last week. List five things they would do in public (demeanor) and five things they would do in private (nature). Think about how they would be at their occupations, how they’d be when dealing with family or friends, etc.
Then, once you have those lists write a short scene that illustrates both the nature and demeanor.