Tuesday, August 09, 2011

Spotting a phony and creating a REAL character

I think it’s important for a novelist to study human nature. We need to create realistic characters to draw people into our books. Aside from going to school to study psychology and sociology, or reading books and attending lectures to educate ourselves, you can get a good peek at human nature by watching reality TV.

Yeah, really.

I don’t watch the trashy stuff. To see how people respond under pressure, I enjoy watching The Amazing Race or Survivor. It’s interesting to watch those folks plot how to take advantage of a situation. Also you get to see good examples of family dynamics on Amazing Race when family members team up.

You see people’s character or lack thereof on reality TV. To see how someone responds to authority or rationalizes bad choices, watch one of the judge shows, Judge Judy or Judge Mathis. I wonder if some of those bums really think anyone’s buying their baloney.

Another show I like to watch is Millionaire Matchmaker. The hostess Patti (matchmaker) has a real knack for reading people, and she doesn’t put up with any hooey. I love it when my BS meter pins in the red while listening to one of her clients, and then she calls him out. In the beginning of the show she reviews clients’ videos, and she figures out their personality right away. That’s one talented lady. She cuts to the chase, and I like that.

Another source to hone in on human nature is to watch Tonya Reiman when she does her body language segment on O’Reilly. She’s also got a great website with lots of information on body language cues: a newsletter, articles, FAQs.

So, the next time you veg out watching reality TV, tell yourself you’re simply being a student of human nature.


Beth K. Vogt said...

Love the tagline, Megan. And, yes, I get it.
Hadn't thought of analyzing reality TV shows to help with character development. Great idea. I do enjoy watching Tonya Reiman doing her body language analysis--good stuff there.

Megan DiMaria said...

Thanks, Beth. Reality TV helps me to see types of people who aren't in my world. Fortunately, I have lovely friends who I respect and enjoy. ;)

Jaime Wright said...

I'm so glad to know I'm not the only one who does this! My DH can't understand WHY I watch America's Next Top Model or The Bachelorette, or Amazing Race etc. Primarily, it's for character study! I love watching people- their reactions - staged or not. You hit the nail on the head with this article!

Megan DiMaria said...

Jaime, I love to do a running commentary on the personality types, and then am thrilled when they act out as I've predicted. You learn so much from just WATCHING people. You don't even need to interact, just watch.