Last week on Tips-y Tuesday we talked about the benefit of writing your query letter’s synopsis letter before starting your manuscript. This week I’d like to change gears and talk about something completely different: cosplaying as your novel’s characters.
For those unaware, “cosplay” (portmanteau of “costume” and “play”) means dressing up like a character from a movie, video game, or TV show. For some extensive examples of cosplay, check out the cosplay-related articles on RocketNews24.
But the thing about cosplay is, not all characters are as popular to cosplay as others. Sure, the most popular characters are of course going to be from the most popular media (anime, Game of Thrones, Harry Potter, etc.), but there’s also another factor: how identifiable the characters are.
For example, even though the Twilight series, Divergent series, and Percy Jackson series are very popular, you almost never see Bella or Tris or Percy cosplays at conventions. Part of that is due to some of them being seen as “lesser” series in the eyes of some, but another very important factor is the lack of unique features on the characters themselves. No one would be able to tell you’re cosplaying as one of them instead of just walking around in your normal clothes.
Not the most easily-identifiable cosplay.
Whereas other characters that are more popular to cosplay have lots of unique features: Harry Potter has his scar, glasses, robes and yellow/red scarf; Daenarys has her long white hair, translucent gown, and her dragons; and pretty much every anime character from Ash to Naruto to Goku to Sailor Moon has a list of unique features that could fill pages.
Why is this important in writing a novel? Because it helps create more memorable characters that stand out.
When I started writing, one huge problem I had was that all my characters were too generic. They were just too normal. Would Harry Potter be as popular without his scar and glasses? Would Daenarys be as popular without her dragons? Maybe, but chances are, probably not.
What helped me start down the path to creating better characters was imagining what it would look like if fans of my book cosplayed as the character. If my main character was just a girl in normal clothes, no one would cosplay her. But if she was instead, say, a fancy half-spider half-human with eight eyes, two sets of legs, two sets of arms, a top-hat, monocle, and cane, then suddenly she becomes a lot more unique and cosplay-able.
You tell me if that’s memorable.
Of course, you don’t have to go to such an extreme in your own character creation. If your book is just about normal people, that’s perfectly fine, but give us something to help identify the character.
Maybe they always wear a rainbow dress. Maybe they have a hat shaped like a volcano. Maybe they’re in a wheelchair decked out to look like a race car. Maybe those traits can work their way into your character’s personality, or even the plot, opening up details about your story that you didn’t even know existed.
Ironically, making your character stand out more by giving them less-common features makes them feel more real than if they were just generic.
So when creating your characters, don’t be afraid to go crazy. Give them unique features you’ve never seen before, and while you’re doing so, imagine how someone might dress up as them. Keep cranking up the uniqueness until you get to the point where you can imagine someone going up to your character’s cosplayer at a convention and screaming, “Oh my god! I love that character. Can I take a picture with you?”
(Featured image via GAHAG, edited by me)