Weird Characters vs. the Everyman

Eli Hicks asks the question:

“What makes bizarro “bizarro” is the plot, right? But how do you know how normal or how strange to make your protagonists? In all your work that I’ve read, I’ve always found the “heroes” quite relatable…”

In mainstream fiction, the main character is usually the “everyman” (AKA the most normal human being on the planet, one who is relatable to pretty much everyone). In bizarro, the hero doesn’t have to be completely bat shit weird, but shouldn’t be the everyman. To bizarro readers, the everyman is boring. Who wants to read a story about the kind of people we live next to already and have no interest in getting to know?

For bizarro writers, I recommend making your characters as interesting and abnormal as possible. They can be quirky, eccentric, surreal, or freakish. Some writers don’t like to write about weird characters because they think it will make them unrelatable to the reader. However, I disagree with this. I believe that it’s possible for the reader to relate to any kind of character. It’s like the old saying: “Even Hitler loved his dog.” So you can even relate to Hitler, if you love dogs. And if you can relate to Hitler, you can relate to any character. Even a girl who has tentacles for hair and a cockroach-sucking fetish. There are problems, passions, and emotions that she has that anyone can relate to. So it doesn’t matter how weird you make a character, you can still make people feel for them.

Of course, as in your case, if your reader happens to be as weird as the character then it will be even easier to relate to that character.

But I do want to also say that the character doesn’t have to be weird for a story to be bizarro. Only the plot has to be weird. You can put the everyman in a bizarro world. Still, I think it’s more interesting to focus on unusual characters. Of course, another thing I’d like to point out is that I don’t actually believe that the everyman exists. I don’t think anybody is “normal.” Everyone is strange in one way or another. Some people hide their weirdness, some people flaunt it, and some people can’t control it. Mainstream writers tend to focus on what is normal and relatable about their characters, but bizarro writers should focus more on what is weird and unique about their characters. It doesn’t matter if your bizarro books has is a suburban middle-class family man as the main character, because even a suburban middle-class family man has a strange side that is worth exploring.

4 Responses to “Weird Characters vs. the Everyman”

  1. Eli Hicks Says:

    Thanks!

  2. Alexander Jerusalem Says:

    As long as you’re talking about the basics, do you feel like talking about setting? You’ve created some of the most fascinating worlds I’ve ever read about and I’d love to hear your thoughts.

  3. Chris Benton Says:

    The more you think about the weirdness, the more your self-consciousness will fuck up the momentum of the story. Just give the characters and plot the freedom to mutate at their leisure…

  4. Eli Hicks Says:

    Thanks, Chris!

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