I've been struggling with a vicious head cold this week and it's got me pondering about the art of thinking clearly. It's difficult to achieve this when your head feels as if it's stuffed full of cotton balls, but how can you write if you don't have a plan? Furthermore, how clearly do your characters think?
As a writer, I have to know where I'm going. I need to know the main points of my plots before I start to write. I know what information has to come out when; I can't imagine just sitting down and writing. I need some sense of order, some sense of control. I have to think clearly.
Some characters are naturally clear-thinkers. You can strand them in a pelting rainstorm with leaky shoes and they'll still find their way to shelter. Other characters will sit down and cry. Others will worry about how much they paid for the shoes that are now leaking.
Clear-thinking characters are often the main players. Their decisiveness and less emotional natures make them wonderful plot-pushers. They are concerned with action, not reaction. Usually highly intelligent, these characters are not easily fooled. I try to give my clear-thinkers some sort of Achilles heel to make them more identifiable. Perhaps they have a thing about finishing the crossword every morning within a certain time or perhaps they have to stir their coffee five times before they drink it. Maybe they have a favourite mug. Even clear-thinkers aren't robots (unless you're writing science fiction, in which case, maybe they are!)
I would think it would be incredibly irritating to have the crier as a main character. Wouldn't any reader get fed up and start imagining whacking the poor thing with a heavy shovel? Overly emotional characters can be exhausting; sooner or later you want them to just grow up and behave. Of course, there are those characters that overreact. But why do they overreact? Is it plausible or is it a case of 'pay attention to me'? I tend to put my emotional characters in supporting roles as I have found a little goes a long way.
The character who's concerned about their shoes could be described as a combination of the two previous types. On the one hand, he's clear-thinking enough to be aware of money he's just thrown away since the leaky shoes are obviously of inferior workmanship. On the other hand, he's upset a pair of shoes have been ruined. What if they were his favourite shoes? What if they were his lucky shoes? What if the pair of shoes were a gift from someone near and dear? This is the type of character I tend to make a main character. Sometimes clear thinking, sometimes emotional. I find them more human and thus easier both to write and to relate to.
Are your characters clear-thinkers? Are they criers? Or are they worried about the leakiness of their shoes?