Jason, the man Heather has hired to stalk her, made his first appearance on my screen today. I’m certain it was more exciting for me at this point than him, but never mind, he made his entrance. And after he arrived at the premiere of Heather’s TV show, I realized I hadn’t given him any quirks.
I don’t mean that I want him to be quirky, but rather that he needs some ticks, some habits that are his and his alone. I need to find the shorthand for his character, little ticks, or quirks, that give the reader something solid – something, I suppose, to judge him by. I mean something like ‘Jason was a Mac man.’ A preference for a particular computer won’t, in this case, give away anything significant about his character, but that’s the sort of thing I’m trying to figure out.
What sort of physical ticks, verbal habits, or quirks of personality would a man who has previously been an underwear model, and who is now a hired stalker, have? He aspires to have a career as a television presenter, and has signed up to stalk Heather only because he thinks it’ll offer excellent opportunities for networking. So he could be the sort of guy who has a fantastically organized set of business cards. Maybe he has an app for that? Or possibly a spreadsheet which, to me, would signify a level of obsession that would be more appropriate to Heather. But I don’t think he’s that clever. Jason is pretty. He’s a bit more useful than your average Bond Girl but not by much.
He will mimic Heather’s behaviour, in fact, he’s just done that. And it didn’t work well. Though gorgeous, he still can’t get away with flirting the way Heather can. He just called the Production Coordinator sweetheart and she very nearly bit his pretty head off.
Ooh, what if Jason has something terrible happen to his eyes? A blind stalker! That’s maybe a bit cute.
Henri Bergson, a French philosopher, wrote a book called Laughter An Essay on the Meaning of the Comic. In the bit where he discusses the comic in general, he mentions exaggeration in regard to caricature:
For exaggeration to be comic, it must not appear as an aim, but rather as a means that the artist is using in order to make manifest to our eyes the distortions which he sees in embryo.
I want the novel to be comic, and for the characters themselves to grow from the type of distortions that Bergson mentions. Those tiny little ticks that make us all unique tend reveal more than we realize.