We all have our favourite dingbats...er, make that characters. Who can forget Suzanne Somers of Three’s Company? Cutesy, air-fairy, sweet-natured Chrissy, who makes a toddler look smart. And Don Knotts, to whom everything is a major deal.
And then there’s Edith of All in the Family. Even she makes Chrissy look smart, which brings me to acerbic Archie. With the amount of insults he throws Edith’s way, I kinda wonder what attracted him to her, but then the sitcom came from someone’s imagination.
Anyway, I digress.
Remember Richard Moll who plays Bull Shannon in Night Court? Huge, and dim as a ten-watt bulb, he’s known for his frequent mistakes.
On screen, these characters add much to sitcoms. They provide comic relief for the audience, especially when juxtaposed against an actor with a keen wit.
In fiction, it ain’t so easy to create palatable not-so-smart people. They wear on readers quickly. I haven’t attempted to write one of these ditzy characters, but I lift my hat to the writer who can pull off this feat without exasperating readers.
In Contraband, I wrote a wayward character who always got into dangerous situations from which his cousin had to rescue him. One reviewer commented that he was tired of him as he was taking up too much of the hero’s time. While I appreciated that reader’s viewpoint, I also had to show the caring/responsible/take-charge side of my MC and his cousin was the way to do that.
Downright silly characters sometimes feel as though they’re taking up space that can be better utilized. We walk a tightrope between providing a contrast for one character and creating a sideshow that becomes an annoyance to the reader.
Do you ever write these slightly-less-than-sensible characters? If so, how do you keep them from maddening your audience?
|All Tied Up With String|
The Jamaican food of the day is Dukunoo (sometimes called 'boyo', but don't ask me why). It isn't something that's commonly eaten these days, but it was a staple for the runaway slaves (aka Maroons) who lived in our mountainous terrain. As the Maroons had to hoof it regularly to avoid being captured by British soldiers, they found ingenious ways of keeping themselves fed. Dukunoo (of African origin) is a steamed, sweet, cornmeal concoction that's kinda like a boiled dumpling. The corn meal thingummy is rolled and tied up in a banana leaf and then steamed in hot water. I can't say I've ever had this, but some people swear it's delicious. Sweet potato is sometimes used as a variation. Dukunoo is spiced up with vanilla, raisins, cinnamon and nutmeg. Sounds lovelier than it looks, doesn't it?.