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Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Evolution of Character

This week each of the kiddos has a paper due. The boy is writing a paper on the evolution of Telemachas through the first 4 books of the Odyssey. The girl had to review, summarize & provide insight on a short story. And, she redeemed herself from last week's debacle by choosing the one I wrote for a competition.

Last night, after boy finished his rough draft, I quizzed him about his paper. You have to know that spelling is his bane. I was concerned. I asked all of the mom/once-upon-a-time English major questions; "Is it a 5 paragraph essay," "What's the word count?" The usual. Then I asked him to explain his supporting evidence & this is what I learned.

"We had to pick people who had the most profound effect on changing Telemachas from a boy to a man."

"How many did you choose?" I asked. This is a valid question considering his desire to complete the minimum & no more.

"Five," he said.

"Tell me about them."

I have to say right now, I was impressed & quite surprised by the answer. My little 15yo boy decided that the Greek world did not elevate women & as a result he focused the bulk of his paper on the influences of both Athena & Helen of Troy. What?? In his estimation, these two females did the most to educate Telemachas & build him into the man he became. His evolution stood in direct complement to the womanly influences thrust upon him. Uh, did I say I was impressed?

To the girl. She thrust her evenly spaced,  freshly typed, one-page summation into my hands. "Read it, I want you to read it."

"Okay." And then I read it.

In one sheet, she discussed the evolution of the two MCs & she actually discussed things that are only implied rather than told. She picked out the underlying concepts that shaded the entire tale. I was impressed & my pride got a tickle. She got it; she totally got it!

I passed it to hubs & he read it. He finished, looked over at me & said, "Wow, she really read it. It shows." Now we were both impressed.

What does this have to do with writing? Character evolution is subjective & secretive known only to the writer until it is shoved out the front door to meet its first day of criticism. You kiss it on the cheek, provide a protective snuggle & promise that all is well in its little world. No matter where your MCs are in their evolution, they look to us, their creators, for reinforcement & safety. They struggle as we struggle. It is a symbiotic relationship that will one day find its way out of the nest.

Questions: Do you view character evolution from a parent/child perspective or some other? At what point do you feel they no longer need you? How do you shield them from criticism?

Happy Writing,


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