Friday, December 16, 2011

Developing Unique Characters: Stroke Causes French Accents

The video below is about a British woman who went to bed with a headache and woke up with a French accent. It's called Foreign Accent Syndrome. Seriously, this is a real thing.

The syndrome is caused by damage to the speech section of the brain, which can happen during a stroke. This woman's stroke was so minor that she didn't notice it until morning.

My initial reaction was, "Holy cow, the brain is so complex." My next thought was that she would make for a great character in a book.

In most books, characters are cliche. They have the same attitudes, the same life experiences, the same struggles. In modern settings, sarcastic characters are popular right now. In historical fiction, it's always independent women who refuse to be dominated by men. It's getting old.

Imagine how your book would read if a character had a brain condition that made her French. That would be different.

When I create a new character, I like to ask myself, "How is this person different from everyone else?"

There's a plethora of ways to answer that question. I was watching a show on Amish people who decided to leave their community; what if your character's love interest used to be Amish?

Instead of having a Stepford wife as your MC's neighbor, you could have a little person; maybe he's a doctor or a lawyer. You could have someone who used to weigh 500 lbs and lost the weight. You could have someone who used to be a child celebrity, or the child of a celebrity.

You could have an employee of a chicken farm whose job is to check the sex of the chicks. I saw that on Dirty Jobs. He had to squeeze the chick to make it poop before he could feel the sex organ.

When it comes to characters, stretch your creativity. The sky's the limit.

1 comment:

  1. So that's how you tell the sex of a chicken! The things you learn by reading blogs!


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