On Character Development
I just watched a chick flick of the most classic variety. You know the one – girl meets boy. Boy is not a love interest at first but as their platonic relationship develops so does the web of lies about who she is as a person. He has no idea that this person he’s growing close to is not at all who people think she is. His feelings are genuine and so are hers. But in walks another woman who develops feelings for the man as well.
Things get interesting. The lies run thick and there is no way to untangle the mess and reveal the truth. The other woman takes this opportunity to reveal the girl for who she really is in a way that is most inconvenient for them all. The girl’s world crashes like a tree falling in the forest except everyone is there to watch and listen. The girl’s world as she hoped it would be falls apart dramatically.
Skip to the credits and you’ll miss the last quarter of the movie where the girl reveals her self, apologizes for her motivations, and the girl and the boy are free from the baggage of the lies to celebrate their true feelings; happily ever after.
Cue the music.
These movies exist everywhere and it has me thinking about the role character development plays in fiction and in real life.
In this particular movie, technically the girl was not telling a lie, but others were telling it for her based on her actions. How many times have you met someone and you’ve filled in the gaps about their life and as a result built them up into someone they really weren’t? And from there, when they did something that was out of the character you built for them they disappointed you or changed how you view them?
I do it all the time.
We are each the author of our own life story. You are the person I have created of you based on how we act together, apart, how I watch you engage with others, and the actions you do and don’t do. I can’t help it, and you can’t help doing that to me either. You are going to impress me when you do things that I don’t expect; and you’re going to disappoint me when you do things that I wasn’t prepared for either.
You are your own person, and I’m just the writer, I can’t help it and neither can you. It’s why you say, “Wow, that surprised me,” and I say, “I knew you’d really like this.”
You are the person you are based on who I create you to be through my own eyes and experiences. The best part about stories, movies, and fiction is that they’re all scripted and go according to a formula that works and the audience expects. The problem with real life is the characters I create for the people I know have a high likelihood for being absolutely wrong, in the most pleasant or the worst way. And the character you’ve built me up to be may do exactly the same thing. I may entertain you, shock you, bore you, and disappoint you without you even realizing that I’ve gone against the expectations you set for me.
If you are the author of the story of your life, would you ever tell a character who is acting in a way that is outside the characteristics you wrote for them? Do you even have a right to do so?
Photo Credit: chez_sugi
This entry was posted on Saturday, November 13th, 2010 at 2:28 pm and is filed under on writing. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.