Characters, Ripped From the Headlines

Are you having trouble building creative, unique characters?  You might want to take a cue from TV and rip someone from the headlines to use for practice. 

Here are a few “colorful” folks I came across in the news: 

  • Bank Robbing Housewife in Michigan: Not really good at accounting but good at spending, this unassuming lady discovered her bank account was overdrawn.  Fairly heavily so, as a matter of fact.  Afraid her husband would be angry with her, she decided to get the money she needed by robbing the bank.  Since she was so inept a robber, and since it was her own bank she held up, and since it never occurred to her to wear a disguise, she was caught immediately.  Wonder if her decision did anything to improve her husband’s mood?
  • Really pushy teen in Florida: According to authorities, this 17-year-old pistol whipped her mom and forced her to drive to a dealership and buy her a car.  (Uh…. all the time the salesperson went through the back-and-forth show with the manager, no one happened to notice the kid had a gun on her mother?) The mother didn’t press charges, though, because her daughter had been accepted at several Ivy League schools, and, well, you know…!
  • Scary Driver in S.F. Bay Area, California:  When stopped by the police for driving solo in the diamond lane, this fellow had a ready excuse:  “I have my dog Queenie with me in the passenger seat.”  Informed that “passenger” meant human, not dog, the man insisted, “But she isn’t just any dog.  She helps me drive.  I’m legally blind and whenever I get too close to another car, Queenie barks.”  Hmmm…
  •  Unfunny Clown charged with abuse in Southern California: What, he thought no one would identify him without his red nose?

 What do you think?  Any of them you might be able to fashion into an interesting character?  If you agree to try your hand, I’d love to have you post your efforts for all of us to see.

 “There is nothing so powerful as truth, and often nothing so strange.”

Daniel Webster

 

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13 Comments

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13 responses to “Characters, Ripped From the Headlines

  1. Honestly, that would be hilarious to have a few characters like these in a humorous novel. The only issue would be cutting the character too close to the real person. Then it’s libel and they can sue, apparently (so says my research).

    But yeah, the bank-robbing wife one is just plain silly. Perfect for April Fools!

    • Yes, one would have to do a good bit of changing as the character was developed, but the root character could still be there. Thing is, we don’t know enough about these to fashion our characters too closely to the real thing. Just one event. So if fifteen of us wrote out a full character description of any one, we would have fifteen different characters.

      • You’ve got a great point there. Besides, now I really want to write a fun short story about that bank-robbing wife. But you have to give the woman credit: she was thinking outside of the box. Sort of.

  2. Welcome to Kay’s Words, Elisa!

  3. Somehow our back and forth got a bit scrambled up here, Elisa. Sorry about that!

  4. Thank you for this amazing post. I’ll read the paper with a different view now.

  5. You do have some interesting characters there. It is really scarey to think we have real people like this walking the streets. I think they would be to unrealistic for a fiction book, He he. Great post.

    • You are so right, Shirley. I think it was Tom Clancy who said, “The difference between fiction and non-fiction is that fiction has to be believable.”

  6. Kay, I think I will keep coming back for sure.

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