Fiction File: How a Fictional Detective Can Help You Create Better Characters

How was your weekend? Mine was a standard weekend, pretty much–getting ready for the week after doing some relaxing.

Let’s get to it.

I watched a teeny bit of the series finale of Monk yesterday. The whole shebang itself apparently went from 2002 through 2009, but it seems like it went off forever ago.

I realized something about the show…that’s not actually about the show itself, but it is.

There’s a line in the theme song that mentions paying attention and being worried. That made me realize that the character Monk notices a lot of things about a lot of things.

But that also means other people don’t.

That’s what makes the show work (how Monk solves crimes by seeing details other people don’t).

Which also means other people can’t do what Monk does–because they’re not dealing with the issues Monk’s dealing with that make him throw away cookies, or wipe his hands a lot, or compulsively straighten crooked things, or messy rooms.

That order-out-of-chaos attitude on max gear makes most of Monk happen.

Part of our job as writers is to make sure people are being somewhat realistic, believable, and what-have-ya based on how we characterize them–so they’ll notice (and miss) certain details. Unless, of course, they’re having a horrible day or you’ve got some other (good) reason why she pushes away a piece of her favorite pie or something.

I would never notice much about flowers or dog breeds, for example. Several types and breeds I know, and others not really. Other people I know are super into that stuff. I see mostly “there’s some purple flowers” and “oh, a huge dog.”

And that’s it.

Depending on the subject, I could probably tell you anything you wanted to know (and some things you maybe didn’t want to).

Tomorrow, I’d like to get into a specific (and hilarious, I’m hoping) example of this perspective thing from my own life.

Until next time,



About Ty Mall

Thanks for stopping by. I've almost always been interested in writing, among other things. Along with discovering pop culture, I've uncovered a lot about the craft over the past 10 years. And whether you're a fiction writer or email copywriter, I'm here to pass on what I've found out. And have a ton of fun in the process.
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