Vanilla Ice Cream Cures For Vanilla Characters

Ice cream is good no matter how you scoop it. Personally, I’m a cookies n’ cream nut, or anything chocolate. Strawberry and Mint are pretty good, too.

Have I mentioned, there isn’t a bad flavor of ice cream?

When I went overseas I had the delightful experience of the ice cream man ringing his bell at 9pm. I’d race to the elevator and fourteen floors down.

What can I say, it was hot in Asia?

Realize my shock when the first time I was served ice cream on bread. A dense and flavorful bread, but bread? Actually, it tasted pretty good to this American Food deprived tourist.

There are many different ice cream flavors, toppings and serving styles. Without the variety we probably wouldn’t enjoy it nearly as much.

In fact, most of us prefer flavored ice cream to vanilla. An ice cream stand would not survive on serving vanilla alone, they need a variety of flavors to draw a diverse pallet of consumers.

As a writer, one of the worst things to hear from an editor, or agent is that you have vanilla characters. They are all alike, boring or cardboard. No one would even care if they got hit by a bus.

We could learn a thing or two from the ice cream man! Variety is the key. We think that different appearance means variety, but when you take the first bite you can tell if something is the same dressed up with a bit of food coloring. They can’t get away with that and neither can we.

What does the ice cream man know that we don’t?

*Showcase a variety of flavors. At the heart of each character they should be different. If you walk into a walmart store and watch shoppers it is obvious just by the way they approach shopping, how different they are. There is the guy who races through the store and crams things in the cart and the woman who is couponing while trying to get her children to get along.

Who they are and what they value is obvious in their shopping style. The man values time and efficiency. The woman values thriftiness and harmony.

Find the basic personality type of your character. What makes them unique? What do they value?

*Provide for diverse taste bud delight. Characters stand out more when we contrast them in the other characters that surround them. No one in your novel should be like your hero and heroine. They should stand out. If your heroine has a spitfire personality, then your other characters should be a bit different. You definitely would want a bland character with a dry humor to offset them.

Think of the stage of a play. Each character is different, or play writers wouldn’t bother to include them. You want to visually see the colors of your characters. Give your characters a personality flavor. The spitfire is red, the bland one with dry humor is beige, the cheery grandmother is yellow, the villain is black, etc. Then use that to help you frame your descriptions.

Don’t be afraid to let your characters have some contradictions. Contrast is good sometimes.

*Everything is better with sprinkles. Seriously, if you have watched a kid at a buffet ice cream line you know exactly what I’m talking about. The more toppings the better. Color is great.

Characters all start with the same basic ingredients like ice cream, but we need to add the flavor. Sprinkle on personality quirks and things that make your character stand out. What are the colorful parts of their personality?

Everyone has something that makes them noticeable to others. Find that gem and draw it out.

What is your favorite flavor of ice cream? What is your favorite flavor of character?


About Michelle Lim

Author Michelle Lim is the Brainstorming/Huddle Coach with My Book Therapy Press and the Midwest Zone Director for American Christian Fiction Writers. Michelle’s romantic suspense is represented by Karen Solem of Spencillhill Associates and has gained contest recognition in the Frasier, the Genesis, and the Phoenix Rattler, winning the Genesis in 2015 for her genre. Michelle writes devotionals for The Christian Pulse Online Magazine and Putting On The New. Since her nonfiction book release, Idea Sparking: How To Brainstorm Conflict In Your Novel, through public speaking and online chats Michelle helps writers discover the revolutionary power of brainstorming to bring new life to their stories.

5 thoughts on “Vanilla Ice Cream Cures For Vanilla Characters

  1. I like a spunky heroine who can hold her own and a I like a raw, short tempered hero who has a romantic heart buried way down. He also has to be fiercely protective of what’s his! Ah, sigh! 🙂

    My favorite icecream is Butter pecan or Rocky Road, even though normally I hate marshmallows.

    Awesome post!!!

  2. Michelle Lim says:

    Thanks, Jessica! I love a spitfire heroine too!

  3. I like an independent heroine, one who can give as good as she gets. And I like for the hero to know what he wants, even if it blindsides him sometimes. Favorite ice cream? Vanilla with caramel and pecans! Wish I had some right now.

  4. Michelle Lim says:

    Oh, me too Pat. And the men who know what they want…that’s way more romantic!

  5. […] be unique, but they should have a balance that meets the needs of the reader to enjoy a story. Different types of characters appeal to different readers, so try to mix it up a bit. At least two of your cast of characters […]

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