Definition: lacking coherence or orderliness; a lack of systematic structure
Characters in Literature & Film: The 7 Dwarves (Snow White); Charlie (the Perks of Being a Wallflower); Clark Griswold (National Lampoon Vacation)
Common Portrayals: Writers, artists and other creative types; hoarders; the elderly; geniuses; the mentally ill; characters in slapstick comedy roles; red necks; messy teenagers
Clichés to Avoid: The ‘mad’ scientist; the eclectic wizard, the harried mother/aunt/grandmother/teacher with too many kids to keep track of; using a disorganized antagonist or gang of thugs as a plot device so the hero may easily defeat them
Twists on the Traditional Disorganized Character:
- Disorganized protagonists are never portrayed at their bleakest, or they have positive traits which negate their irresponsibility, leading to an ‘all is forgiven’ scenario. Challenge yourself to write a character who is extremely disorganized and excels at consistently disappointing others. How will you balance such a character to still make them likable to the reader?
- This character type is used to disappointing others and then shrugging it off as, ‘Sorry, but that’s how I am. Forgive me?’ What happens when someone they count on in turn lets them down in a huge way–an unforgivable way?
- Show us a character who views her own disorganization with contempt, and pair it with the drive to change. As initial failures mount, this will give the reader a view of ironic self-disappointment.
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