Creating complex characters: Esther in Frozen Music
Frozen Music by Marika Cobbold stars Esther, and I liked her a lot. She is a prime example of the 3 Cs of Character, which is one of the characterisation tools I use in my teaching and is a good way to get to know the people who take root in our heads a lot better.
Essentially, Frozen Music is a girl meets boy story but it has got a lot more to it than that. As a character study, and great example of how to bring emotional resonance to your writing through character transformation, it doesn’t even really matter that there was a romance alongside that too. Although I am partial to a good love story – as long as it doesn’t get too sentimental then I run a mile!
So what is Esther’s character like? She has always been very serious with a very well-developed, some might say over-developed, sense of right and wrong and no time for the middle ground. But this is just an attempt to find order in what for her is a confusing and chaotic world filled with people whose morals and priorities she just can’t understand.
Working as a journalist she takes up arms in defense of an elderly brother and sister who are going to lose the only home they’ve ever known as it stands in the way of a new opera house development. It’s this crusade that finally makes her realise that things in life are never as black and white as they seem.
What I liked so much about Esther was that she was flawed, a social misfit, intense, righteous and neurotic. But at the same time she was very funny, loyal, kind, sincere and filled with integrity.
As writers, we need to recognise that as much as we may love, or hate, the characters we are creating they can’t just be all good or all bad. They need to have a bit of both to make them real.
Create a character that has the same traits as Esther that I’ve listed above. Write a pen portrait of them then write another piece from their POV when they have been confronted with a situation that makes them take the moral high ground.
Get more help to create your own unforgettable narrators in our Creating Complex Characters Masterclass.
Next up in this blog series, is Futh in The Lighthouse by Alison Moore. Previous posts are:
- Adam in The Imposter by Damon Galgut – read it here
- Bo in Exquisite by Sarah Stovell – read it here
- Cassie in As Far As You Can Go by Lesley Glaister – read it here
- Dolores in She’s Come Undone by Wally Lamb – read it here
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