Ten Signs That You Might Be A Novel’s Character

1- Nothing is ever easy, nor simple.  Say you are walking across the street to get a gallon of milk.  A rare make of car will almost run you down.  The store that sells the milk will be out of milk. You’ll have to walk across the most dangerous area of town to get to the next store.

This means someone is making you terminally interesting.

2- You remember more near-death experiences than a character in iZombie.

This is probably just background infodumps.  The author is trying to show how resilient you are.

3- All or your friends are terminally interesting and can be counted on for either an explosion or comic relief when needed.

This is good for keeping the plot moving when you’re tired/recovering/ill.

4- You have one or more catch phrases.

This is very useful for delineating a character when the author doesn’t have particularly good character skills.

5- You consistently get interrupted when you try to tell people the most important part of any story.

This is an attempt to create suspense.  Not a very clever one.  BUT, you know, sooner or later your author might find a good writers’ group.

6- You have almost lost a friendship to a huge misunderstanding which would have been cleared up if you’d just paid attention.

7- People are insanely attracted to you, despite age/body type/lack of interest.

8- You have one or more unlikely abilities, which comes in handy in circumstances that should never strike.  Say you are a camel whisperer.  It will turn out the only way to escape a traffic jam is on camel back. If you’re this well foreshadowed, you might want to consider you only exist within pages of a novel.

9- You never cry.  You’ve tried to, but you just can’t cry.  You can REMEMBER crying, but that’s probably back history.  Main characters don’t cry, because then the reader will have to.

10 – You don’t remember some of the more exciting episodes in your life, or not in detail, particularly if they involve more than three people.  This is because crowd scenes are very hard to write, but easier to summarize.

BONUS: if you keep finding people who were murdered in bizarre ways, you’re not the main character of a novel.  You’re an amnesiac mass murderer.


74 thoughts on “Ten Signs That You Might Be A Novel’s Character

  1. Thankfully (I think) 3, 7, and 9 don’t apply.
    Otherwise, I might have to worry about my own existence.

  2. But what if you are the character in a novel but appear to be the comic relief. [Evil Grin]

  3. I have acquaintances who seem to have catch phrases. This does not usually endear them to me, particularly if they beat a proverbial horse to death with their incessant use of such phrases. There is one gentleman who, although I know he means well, makes me want to do violence every time he says, ‘I hear you.’ I never did ‘get’ the charm of J.J. and his Dyn-o-mite! from Good Times.

    I do not recall if either Elizabeth ever cried, and cannot really imagine Darcy letting anyone catch him doing so. I am sure that Mrs. Bennet probably did enough for them and many another character as well. You have given me a reason to reread P&P! Thank you!

    1. Catch phrases are just cartoonish verbal mannerisms. Everyone has some verbal mannerisms, just few are catch-phrase worthy. Around here, the few that are aren’t printable – at least, not in polite company.

    2. My late brother in law had a suite of catch phrases. All were either Pretenders or Tom Petty song lyrics.

  4. #3 and #4 are pretty well ubiquitous for my internet friends. #8 too. Does this mean _I’m_ a secondary character to all those people who say “Who let Rex [fill in the site of the explosion] this time?”

    1. #3 and #4 do seem fairly standard. And as for #8, ‘unlikely’ is a decidedly subjective thing. *Checks* Well, can’t say I’ve ever experienced #7. But that #5… uh oh.

  5. Explosions? Not any more – The Feds harshed our airshow mellow. Near-death events? Not since I stopped substituting in the junior high.
    Friends with catch-phrases? No, but their souses seem to have a few (usually along the lines of “oh no, you didn’t just say that.” [Come to think of it, our coworkers use that line a lot as well. Hmmm . . .])

  6. 5 actually happens to me any time I open my mouth. Not sure what that means…

    And I have a small cache of catchphrases. Does this mean I’m a secondary (more likely tertiary) character in someone else’s novel?!

    1. Same here with 5 and 6 wasn’t an almost, it happened. 😦

      10 .. well, I usually just quote from Quantum Leap – swiss cheese memory. 😉

      1. Ah. Part of it is selection bias (No. 1 – I can tell stories of standing in a car getting it cut apart around me and remember it well. Picking granny up off the floor less so since its so common)

        Interesting friends depends on the story. Sometimes its expected (Friends within career field or comrades in arms)

        Most of the rest I’m guilty of as a writer…but the current copy is draft for now…

      2. Yeah, I have an entire *arsenal* of unfired Chekhovian guns in my life. So not fair…. Like the old glass milk bottle I found walled up in my house when gutting the upstairs to the studs. I mean, does that symbolize lactose intolerance? Ghost cats? WHAT?????

          1. Spoilsport. Admit it, it’s probably a djinn. “Workman’s lunch” pshaw… *suspicious glare*

      3. I was actually musing on the differences between even GOOD fiction and reality. Fiction needs certain short cuts.

        And as JerryP is fond of pointing out, fiction has to be credible. (Reality doesn’t have to care if you believe it or not.)

  7. My wife cured me of blaming Al Gore for all cold snaps, so #4 doesn’t shouldn’t apply any more, but #1 is all too true. However, it’s usually boring things that keep me from getting things done. Think “There’s a Hole in My Bucket” rather than Indiana Jones and the Lost Half-Asteroid.

        1. The Gore Effect is so well documented, I’ve seen people joke about “It’s getting to hot here/the A/C broke, let’s see if Al Gore will come give a talk about Global Warming.”

  8. ‘if you keep finding people who were murdered in bizarre ways, you’re not the main character of a novel. You’re an amnesiac mass murderer.”

    Soooo, that explains all the weird stuff in Murder She Wrote. :-p

  9. I’d write myself into something as a character – but nobody buys a one paragraph story…

    Reminds me, though, I need to start tracking down Joe Buckley. I have one story line going where he, or someone using his name, is a) a highly intelligent and competent officer, b) meets and marries an absolutely gorgeous and brilliant woman, and c) ends up as the head honcho of the galactic Confederation. Seems to me I should get permission for completely misrepresenting the poor guy’s life…

    1. Eric Flint & Ryk Spoor let Joe Buckley live and even got him married to a wonderful (if dangerous) lady.

      Of course, if they killed that Joe Buckley now, his widow could come looking for them. 😈 😈 😈 😈

      1. Argh! When I don’t even know that people have taken up residence in my head, it is very annoying…

        Which one was that? (And, looks like I get to figure out a different name, dang it!)

            1. And I own those novels, dang it! (Except for Digital Knight, which goes on the list now.)

              Annoyed by my horrible memory for names (real or fictional). But – absolutely no regrets ponying up another $2.99 for it, with it going to Baen Bulk and ReadAssist.

  10. In regards to #5, I once played a game of “how long can I keep this character from getting food?”

    The irony is that I wrote that *before* I was a parent. Foreshadowing, yes…

    1. But that’s real life. Especially in some fields. I’ve done a reverse dine and dash at restaurants more than once (Pay for food, get food, get call before eating food).

      1. My med-crews and I called going to a sit-down food place “pager roulette.” Would the pager go off before the food arrived? There are a few places where if you are in EMS/flight crew uniform, they ask you to pay when you order, for the sake of the waitress who might otherwise have to drop everything to get your check. (And so they didn’t get stuck with a dine-n-dash.)

        1. How I learned about “for here, to go” Since I’m municipal they are usually pretty good if we leave because they know they will get their money. But more than a few meals died on the stove and I’ve had a few standbys because someone needed to watch dinner.

        2. I used to have often have lunch with a friend who had the city’s emergency wrecker contract. He always asked them to bring the bill and a to-go box when he ordered.

          I started settling my bill with my order too; many times I was nearly late to get back to work or an appointment because I needed to leave and I had suddenly become invisible to waiters.

          It’s one of my Special Powers. I still have the Mace holster with the Freon boat horn in my desk drawer. I used to use it to remind waitstaff that I was still there… getting the bill first means I can just walk out, assuming they ever brought my food in the first place.

          [some of you probably think I’m kidding about the boat horn. I’m not.]

          1. This reminds me of someone named Kathy at a website called “The Cornered Cat” writing about her ability to become invisible. Her website is dedicated to teaching women about self defense and firearms, so she was emphasizing things like body language and situational awareness. In her essay, she talked about how, with the help of a friend, they were able to figure out what she did to become so invisible…

            There have been times in which I felt I could be invisible, too, but I think that was just a delusion in my mind, largely as a result of my tendency to be quiet…

            (When I say “delusion”, I mean this: I’ve never really seriously tested my belief that I can be invisible; I’ve always just assumed that I have that ability, whether I have that ability or not…)

    1. It could be worse. You could be living next door to James Nicoll.

      Actually, I think he doesn’t have constant near-death experiences anymore. Probably because he went down to the crossroads and became an SJW, but that’s just a guess. (And it doesn’t seem to help other SJW’s, to be fair, so he must be an extraordinary crossroads negotiator.)

      1. Living next to James Nicoll isn’t something I’d write even for a character I hated.

  11. Sweet! My peaceful life means that I am free to make my own choices and not living at the whim of sadistic author!

          1. And how can I forget Lu-Tze! Never forget rule one.
            There’s also Professor X in the funny books.

  12. What does it mean when the novelization of a portion of your life is actually more believable, in spite of the addition of supernatural themes?

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