Friday, September 13, 2013

A Characters Heritage


We all come from somewhere, and no, I don't just mean our parents. Lately I've been thinking about not only my own ancestry, but that of my countries and also my characters.

One of the classes I'm taking this semester is American Ethnic and Minority Literature. With the main focus being on African American and Native American literature. I just got done reading about 100 pages of a Native American explaining how he was treated in the 1800's. Needless to say it is shameful and quite sad how he was treated, and those before him.
I realized, even though I have just a tiny bit of Cherokee in me, it's part of my past. This person I was reading about was from another tribe even, but it still had an effect on me. It made me wonder how my great great great grandmother who was a full blood Cherokee was treated. Did she have to walk the Trail of Tears? Did the people in her community shun her for marrying a white man?

map of the trail of tears
taken from wikipedia 
This brought me to thinking about my characters. How much should their background influence them? As an American I know I'm a "mutt," that I have multiple nationalities in my bloodline and probably more I don't even know about. I would venture to say that most American's come from multiple backgrounds, it's one of the most proud things about our country- the melting pot of the world. But lets go back to characters, when writing them, I feel you should have an idea of where they come from.

For example, as I mentioned, I have Native American in me. I have dark brown hair and darker skin than my mother, who comes from a all European background. It's small details like this that help bring a character to life. I'm still working on developing my own characters, but I want to make sure I know where they come from so that can be shown in who they are.