Who Are You? Character Edition – Matt
December 19, 2012 § 1 Comment
This is the second post in the series of getting to know the characters in Unethical. Matt is married to Sarah. (Click here for more about Sarah.) Matt is one of three main characters. His marriage to Sarah plays a major role in the dynamics of the story.
I really found this exercise to be helpful with this character. Matt seemed shallow and singularly driven to me when I was writing him. I didn’t realize why until I began answering questions about who he is. That’s when I discovered that I didn’t have a clue where he came from or what his life was like prior to the beginning of the story. Having learned where the problems are with Matt, I can now revisit the areas where I failed to fully develop his character.
A while back I posted about a workshop I attended on novel writing. One of the things the presenters talked about was what to do when you get stuck in the story. They suggested examining character motivation and development. If you don’t know what decisions a character would make and why, then the story cannot progress in any meaningful manner. Characters drive the story forward and their behaviors have to be genuine. Taking this closer look at Matt has been very helpful for me because it became obvious why I was having some problems making him believable.
When I began writing Unethical I had one idea about what the story would be about. As I wrote, though, the story changed and became more plot-driven than character-driven. That change left the story feeling unbalanced because only Sarah was well-rounded and real. Now, having said that, it might be okay that not all the information about Matt’s background is actually spelled out in the story. Sarah is the one telling the story from her perspective and Matt kept a great deal of secrets from her. She doesn’t have the whole picture until the very end of the story. In order for Matt to be real, however, I as the author need to know where he came from and keep his motivations consistent with his behavior and decisions.
With that out of the way, let’s meet Matt.
Character’s Full Name: Matt (like I said before I still can’t make up my mind about a last name)
Age Character Actually Appears to be and why: He looks his age. He is clean cut and professional in his appearance.
Hair Color and Style: blond hair, cut short, looks like a quarterback or all American
Eye Color: brown
Weight: 160 lbs.
Body Type: athletic and strong
Thing the Character Would Most Like to Change About Himself and Why: nothing- Matt is confident to the point of being narcissistic
Intelligences and Attitudes: technical, intelligent, analytical, physical, mathematical, calculating, strong, barbaric
Talents: computers, something else (Spoiler!)
Drive and Motivators in Character’s Life: money, power
Likes: outdoors, camping, computers, dogs
Dislikes: emotion, weakness
Pet Peeves: clutter and disorganization
Value Character Places on Things and Why: Matt places a great deal of value on things because things show how successful he is and success is power.
Spirituality: He does not believe in God. He has no faith in anyone other than himself.
Common Expressions: He does not smile much.
Hobbies: camping, hiking, working, something else (Spoiler!)
Other Significant Relationships: questionable associates
Pets: Caucasian shepherd named Bear
General Behavior Toward Others: distant, paranoid, untrusting
How Others Perceive Character: cold, calculating, brutal
Significant Personal History:
Upbringing: Matt does not talk about his childhood or his family. It is as if his life really began during college when he met Sarah.
Education: Bachelor of Science degree in computers that he earned in two years. Incredibly intelligent
Significant Events: military training and being discharged from the military, getting married and graduating college
Biggest Success: self-employed and making a great deal of money, graduating from college in two years
Residence: very nice house which he sees as a status symbol
Vehicles: always has a nice, new vehicle to drive
Stuff: enjoys having nice things and insists that Sarah does as well
Job: self-employed computer programmer/software designer
Relationships: Only relationship is with his wife, Sarah
Hardships that Linger: being discharged from the military
Delights that Linger: getting married and going on honeymoon
Biggest Regret: times in his life when he felt vulnerable
Secrets and Who Knows About Them: Spoiler!
Hopes and Dreams:
Places Character Would Like to Visit: Europe
Things Character Would Like to Do: Travel with lots of money
People Character Would Like to Meet: unknown – he is very private and usually avoids people when he can
Who Character Would Like to Emulate and Why: Spoiler!
Author Analysis of Character: Matt is intelligent and calculating. He can be paranoid and cautious. He works all the time and his relationship with Sarah has become very distant. Matt is obsessed with money and power at the expense of love and affection. Matt keeps his past a tightly guarded secret even from his own wife.
I hope you enjoyed meeting Matt. I’ll introduce you to Brian soon!
Thanks for your continued support and encouragement.