Monday, April 10, 2017

Character Perspective

This is a particularly interesting time of year, because it is a significant time for many, but the specifics are determined by perspective. Passover is a remembrance of God sparing the firstborn child of Israelites while striking down those of the Egyptians. This led to their departure from Egypt, where they had been slaves.

Christians celebrate Easter to commemorate the death and resurrection of Jesus.

And there are varying perspectives about the possible pagan origins of the holiday.

It's interesting to think about, because it means that how one person views the significance of this time could be very different from how others view it. A non-religious family may only think of the Easter bunny and candy. A Christian family may think of family dinners and special church services. A Jewish family may be focused on gathering to celebrate Passover.

This is just one of many ways to illustrate the importance of perspective with our characters so that we convey a clear meaning. If the text says that the week before Easter was an important time for Saul, we might not connect that to Passover if it hasn't been established that he's Jewish.

It may seem a small thing, but perspective matters. A character shouldn't be different just for the sake of being quirky. Difference should manifest itself in their perspective and their actions. If a POV character is 4'6" then I want to see the world at that height; likewise, if they're religious then that should impact their life, choices and perspective.

We've been watching The Path, and it's really interesting to see how convictions manifest themselves in the different characters. I commend the writers for really getting into the nuances of belief and practice and incorporating it into the personality. One religious nut is not another religious nut. The personality and nuances inform character action, which drives the story, and that means those aspects of the characters aren't just dressing tacked on to give the illusion of character development; they're substantive and organically influence the characters and plot, which is what the greatest character development will do.

I remember for a period of time it seemed like every TV show had to have a token gay character, and at other points it's been a token feminist or a token person of a specific ethnic origin. In well developed work, the characteristics of a character are thought out to contribute to their arc and impact their story.

May we all write complicated characters.

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