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Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Meat & Potatoes

From cardboard to real food, characters are built from the framework to the flesh. When I think of this, I envision one of those Victorian dressmaker's forms. The wire frame has a simplistic beauty all its own, but when the layers are added, a beautiful gown begins to emerge.

Mr. Corbett laid the framework for the garment; we have pinned it together. Now, it is necessary to add the thread that binds, the buttons the fasten, the embellishments that style & flair. We can look at these additions in terms of yesterday's Scrooge character example.

The Naked Dream - This is the moment of your character's greatest fear. For Scrooge, loss is his greatest fear. Doesn't matter the object. He wants the cake, the fork & the full belly. But, in choosing one object over another, he continues to lose & suffer.

I'm sorry, so sorry - Sorrow, a deep abiding emotion the elicits deep sadness. Scrooge's misery transforms him into a depressed, angry little man holding on to the only thing he can - his moolah. In defining his greatest sorrow, I would opt for the girl. When he lets her go, his life becomes deflated & driven by the need to gather unto himself. This leaves little room for anything positive in his gray miniscule existence.

Happy, Happy, Happy - Joy, 'tis the season & there are a multitude of reasons. Scrooge's joy is captured when he survives the night & discovers he hasn't missed Christmas. Color invades his world. His cheeks grow rosy, his heart light.

Epic Fail - The worst of failures are not what define us or our characters; it's how we deal with those cards. Hold 'em or fold 'em - this is the true failure test. Scrooge's worst failure? Choosing finance over love. All are tested, not all choose wisely & Scrooge is no exception.

The man behind the curtain - Shame. Dishonor, profound embarrassment. Scrooge cringes away from Marley. He knows he's done him wrong & facing him is tantamount to facing his deepest shame. Every single person on the planet has those moments they don't want exposed to the light; so too do our characters.

Off with her head - Guilty, guilty, guilty. Coupled with shame is the guilt that drags its ugly butt in the back door. Scrooge's profound guilt is demonstrated in his reconcilliation with his nephew & his embracing of the Cratchit family. Were it not for his amends, the reader would be left feeling he learnt nothing.

Pardon me - Redemption & forgiveness. Yes, we can forgive ourselves, but it is those we have wronged whose forgiveness we most desire. In order to escape his self-made prison, Scrooge needs his nephew to welcome & embrace him. He needs the Cratchit family to allow him to help - what good is all that money if he can't help poor Tiny Tim. But, it is through the generosity of others that Scrooge is released because he is finally ready to let the light shine in.

And there we are, the 7 dwarfs of momentous character development. The more fully developed the character before the words are written, the more believable, fluffed out people color our pages.

Happy Writing,



  1. A very interesting way of looking at character development. I love it when writers can go in depth and create wonderfully deep voices.

  2. Hey Clarissa,
    Me too & that's why I'ma workin' on it. Gotta get my own thoughts straight to get to the goods.
    Thanks for the comment.