My Writing Version of a Crash-Test Dummy

As I develop as a writer I often rely on a character I created to practice different scenes with. In two years I’ve developed a whole universe of supporting characters to go with him. I doubt he will ever see the light of day outside of my laptop. I’ll introduce you to him.


Meet Max Chrome.

Max Chrome is a real name of a real person. I liked it, and I told him so. My Max travels the world working as a security consultant who often deals with paranormal problems. Kosovar organized crime using vampires to smuggle heroin in the Balkans? Max is your man. Max is a Stanford graduate, ex-FBI, and divorced. He is wealthy, but is also an adrenalin junkie. Skiing, skydiving, scuba diving, and other sports of the wealthy have no appeal to him. Max likes places like Afghanistan, Somalia, Iraq, Colombia, and other trouble spots. Max is not a super hero, and often not even the smartest guy in the room. He works with others to solve the problems which come his way.

I use Max when I want to explore different aspects of character, emotion, and action. Max has helped me solve problems like how to write a car chase. Writing what I see in my head so it makes sense is one thing, but writing it so it has suspense is another. The most important thing I learned was car chases are boring to read, so I plan to avoid them in my future stories.

Max was there to let me explore what it’s like to take a punch in the face. He took me through a foot chase in an abandoned mental hospital. I used him to develop my narrative skill for hand-to-hand fighting. Max guides me through a solid opening chapter. The best thing I’ve been given by Max is dialog. Max is funny. When he’s with his buddy, Tom Sky, he’s hilarious.

Max has evolved as I write him because my understanding of character has grown.  My recent attempt at a novel was a Max Chrome story. I never intended it to be anything else but a test drive. I learned a lot of things. Mostly I learned what not to do, but that was all thanks to Max. He allows me to explore without having to develop a new character.  Since I knew him, I could recognize my story had four flat tires, and I might not have seen this with a new character.

Max has also given me a handful of other characters which have escaped from his universe into their own. I think their stories will someday be read by others. Max is my go-to guy when I need to hit the woodshed, and sharpen my skills. Each time I take him out of his box