Thursday, July 21, 2011

The Alter Ego

As I contemplate the protagonist for my next project, I'm trying to figure out who I want her to be. Likeable and unique, but flawed, of course. So I question, what is it that makes peeps likeable? Not too hard to determine--usually politeness, confidence, courteousness, drive, humor, etc.

I can cover that much, no problem. But what is it about peeps that make them unique? I mean, we're all likeable in common ways (mostly). But we're far from carbon copies of each other. It made me start thinking of myself and how I am unique. I've come to the conclusion that it's my alter ego. You know, that little entity all its own that lives inside your brain and tries to take over and make you do stuff from time to time?

Okay, now I sound like a mental patient. lol

But if you know anything about alter egos, you know what I mean. I was able to identify mine long ago, and I even have a name for it. I call it Indy Morrison. One half Indiana Jones; One half Jim Morrison. It's a mischievous combination, and I can pinpoint when its's giving me an itch to do something. Especially, now that I'm a mom, I have to keep that alter ego in a straight jacket. No more traipsing around the world writing poetry and socializing with the locals for this lady. Not til the kids are grown, anyway. :p

But the reason I bring this up, is because it got me thinking that maybe the key to a strong, unique  character is defining what their alter ego is. Knowing what makes them do the things they do, or even just why they WANT to do the things they do. The alter ego isn't something you'd ever even mention in the story. I certainly don't go around talking about Indy Morrison like it's a second personality. lol. That's a good thing.

But knowing it's there helps me associate why I get these urges to do crazy things. Perhaps, giving our characters silent alter egos that emerge only at times in the story when it seems appropriate, we can make them unique. Or if it be a villain, maybe their alter ego of Mother Teresa will be their flaw. lol

We could really get creative with this. 


What about you? Ever tried something like this? Do you have an alter ego? Have you gone so far as to name them? Or am I the only basket case out here? lol

28 comments:

Melissa Bradley said...

What an incredibly fun and intriguing post. I sometimes imagine a super villain with the alter ego of Emeril Lagasse or that little old lady who loves to listen to Metallica on iPod.

As for me, I do believe that deep inside me resides part Zoe Washburne from Firefly, part Steven Tyler ala Aerosmith and part Isaac Newton.

Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

No, can't say I have an alter ego. If I do, I hope he's more exciting than I am.

Old Kitty said...

I love alter-egos - I have so many and I have names for them too darn it! Yes I do!! LOL!! So no, you are NOT a basket case - you are letting your imagination fly far and wide! My favourite alter egos are the baddies I create - oh they do things I find intoxicating but would of course never do in real life but my alter egos go places where I only dream of!! Yay - great post, thank you! Take care
x

Jess said...

That's genius! Finding out what your character's secret desires are and who their alter-ego would be is an awesome idea! *Scuttles off to examine characters*

A Beer for the Shower said...

Character flaws, eh? Just do what I do and make her a Twilight fan.

Lori M. Lee said...

lol @ a beer for the shower

Great post, PK! Definitely fun things to think about, especially since I've just started a new WIP as well.

Stephen Tremp said...

Identifying my alter egos could get me arrested. So I'll stay mum about this one.

Karen Walker said...

I don't think you're the only "basket case," Pk. I've never called it alter ego, but I certainly have different aspects of myself that I've identified over the years. For years, a pesky, hurt little girl ruled me. But this is a great idea, to use that to develop a character. Thanks.
Karen

DM said...

I never knew I had an alter ego until one of my characters developed and I realized he had a lot of my more wild characteristics. It is intriguing to develop characters based on alter egos. Certainly makes them true to life.

Hart Johnson said...

This was great! My alter ego is totally the Watery Tart--my online presense. I am actually a bit of a recluse. But I love having a place I can play with it.

I love the idea though, of thinking of it for characters.

Funny thing, though... I don't think I have many polite MCs... what does this say that I think polite more often feeds into annoying than likeable? It's possible I need to look at my values...

Richard said...

Hmmm. Is it bad if you've got more than one alter ego?

Alleged Author said...

Indy Morrison. Love it! Now I'm going to try and find my alter ego. Hmmm...guessing it will be a mixture of a couple people. :P

Jennifer Jackson said...

We all have roles in different situations. But I am not sure if I have an entirely different persona somewhere. Would be nice if I did.

Compulsive Crystal said...

Several alter egos. They all have names too--laced throughout my different stories. In every character find a piece of who I am, who I want to be, or have been in a past stage of life.

Very intriguing thoughts. That would make for a great pen name--the ego.

fOIS In The City said...

Mine has my middle name and I wrote an entire series for her ... I used the name as my twitter handle for the first year ... in case you didn't notice ... she is Toni or Antoinette ... she is the MC in a mystery series and a collection of short stories ...

You want crazy? This is crazy. I talk in character when I get stuck with an idea and can't seem to get over the hump. In other words I talk through my "blocks" and even argue with my MC. Good thing for me I don't hear voices or my kids would find a nice rubber room for me to play in :):)

Michael Di Gesu said...

I certainly have an alter ego. He starred in the first half of my life. The "IT" boy a generation ago. He loved the night life, being the center of attention and traveled the globe.

I pull him out in my writing mostly. BUt every now and then... LOL.

Terrific idea to discover the alter ego of you mcs.

Talli Roland said...

I think me alter ego is taking me over! :) I love the nickname Indy Morrison.

Regina said...

Yes, I have an alter ego, but can't say that I have any name in particular for it. I just know when the buzzing starts that I am no longer me. :)It is sort of like a new character role from time to time. Pick a door, any door..that is how mine kind of works and when I go through the door then that is who I am that day!

I have a character who is like this, this is kind of where I got the idea of trying on souls...hehehe

Great post!IM, I mean PK *wink*

Carla White said...

Interesting theory - I like it. I also think that what makes us unique is not caring what other people think about our characteristics, even if they are those common things you mentioned, and just put ourselves out into the world full force. I think it's those people who stand out above the rest. But maybe that's just another way of saying confidence, lol. I do believe I have an alter ego, though I haven't named her yet. I think it'd be interesting to write as your alter ego to see if the style and story would be different and often wonder if those who have pen names are writing not just under a different name, but also a different ego.

Shannon Lawrence said...

That is definitely something I hadn't really thought of for a character, though when I look at them, some have one built in that I just never really analyzed. I think this would be a great creative exercise with characters!

As for me, I don't have an alter-ego, sad sigh. Though now I feel the urge to create one. Does it count if my cat had one and I named it?

Trying this again! Having Blogger issues.

My family and I went out to Florida at the end of May this year, and I was so disappointed to have missed Universal/Harry Potter. I'm hoping to some day make it out there again when my kids are big enough to actually enjoy the park. Is the butter beer butterscotch?

Tina @ Life is Good
and I are joining forces in a followup A to Z challenge. We're going to visit and comment at each of the original A to Z participants, and we hope you'll join us!

Shannon @ The Warrior Muse

Misha said...

That's a great idea! I've never thought about it like this.

My alter-ego seems to be a gypsy, but I haven't gone so far as to name her.

:-D

Catherine Stine said...

Good post! yes, there is also a difference between how someone projects in the world, and who they think they are inside. You know?

Lisa said...

Hi, I just wanted to stop by and thank you for commenting over at Talli's blog when I guest posted. Here's a high five and knuckle bumps from one ex call center gal to another!
Nice post! My alto-ego seems to have a potty mouth =)

ali said...

I have never EVER thought about it like this, but it MAKES PERFECT SENSE TO ME!!

Now I have to think about this ....

Alison Miller said...

Awesome post! I've never given a name to my alter egos because I have twenty of them. Yes, I probably shouldn't have said that, but no, I've never thought to do that with my mc. Hmm. A rather fabulous idea!

GigglesandGuns said...

M alter ego is a sexy 25yo that is built like Wonder Woman. If she takes over the body I've really got it'll be good for a lot of laughs :D

kelworthfiles said...

My alter-ego is a mild-mannered computer programmer who lives near Toronto. ;)


If you get a chance, check out a fellow writer's zombie story and help me make him wear an embarrassing shirt next year! Details are here:
http://kelworthfiles.wordpress.com/2011/07/19/prove-the-zombies-wrong-social-platforms-can-build-readership/

Marcus said...

Some movie directors have actors they consider their alter-egos. They cast them very often in the main role for that reason.

Quite a novel idea. I'll have to think which actors and directors are alter-egos.