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The Character Market: Apply Now 

If you want to be a character in a novel, apply at one of the Web sites listed above. The Society of Characters in Search of Authors is now hiring characters for a number of novels to be written between 2003-2010. The SCSA is hiring both minor and major characters. Becoming a minor character in a novel costs considerably less, but be forewarned that many minor characters end up dead in the first 10 pages. There is also a sliding pay scale for the type of author and style that might be interested in you. The least pricey is being a major in a realist novel by a mid-career author. In this type of book, your stories will be woven in a pretty straight-forward manner in the tissue of tricks that end up looking like "reality." You will be talking, crying and laughing, just like a human being, and everyone will be able to recognize you. "Why, that's Hank! It's uncanny! Our Hank! He's so lifelike!" These novels are very popular and you could end up quite famous in small-town book clubs. The only drawback here is that these novels are pessimistic. You will be famous, but you will be dead. The price goes up a bit if you want to be in a mystery. These books use only those parts of you that allow for a quick identification, but then go on to modify your character to fit the crime. There is no telling what might happen to your character, what kind of uniform you will be made to wear, what words you might be forced to speak, what weapons you might carry. Anything is possible here, so don't get too hung up on your looks or your fate. You could get beat up and end up both ugly and dead. It is quite a bit more expensive to be in a genre-bending literary novel but it may be worth it. These books are not written to be read by many present-day people, but they could end up being read by many future people, so you'll have a chance to live long after your biological end. It's only fair to warn you that most of these genre-benders don't make it past the manuscript stage. In fact, the majority will never be published, and the ones that are, are rarely removed by reviewers from their shrink-wraps. The price scale is this: $2,000 for a minor character; $5,000 for a major spot in a realist novel by a mid-career author, $10,000 for a big dude mystery, $15,000 for a literary genre-bender. You pay cash and there is no refund. Being a character in a novel can outperform the stock market considerably, but given the ebb and flow of all markets these days, the SCSA is not guaranteeing anything besides personal satisfaction. If your application is considered, the author will contact you by email and determine the suitability of an encounter. If you are deemed character-worthy, you pay half the money and meet the author in person. The meeting places themselves vary: realists like to meet in bars, mystery writers prefer dark alleys, and litterateurs will sometimes propose a dark wood at an uncertain hour, then change their minds. If you are considered suitable, you pay the second half, and await further instructions. Some authors like to move their characters into their own house, or even bed; others will provide you with a tape recorder and lock you in the basement. The process of being novelized can last anywhere between one and five years, so be prepared to give up any life you might be having or planning. There is a long list of successful applicants on the SCSA Web site, including many characters who have gone on to become movie characters and now live quite happily at Blockbuster.


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