When I started searching for my favorite character from my own works, I realized soon that my mind returned not to my own work, but to Cloud Atlas by David Mitchell and the movie produced by the book.
After I’d seen it in the movies – and knowing my brother had too – I turned to my brother and said that what I found most intriguing about it, was the set of actors, who played different roles throughout the whole movie. He looked at me with genuine surprise and said he even noticed! How he could have missed it, I wondered.
Without going into details, because some of you might have not seen it yet and I recommend you go and see it, the idea in that movie was that different characters in different times were played by the same actors-actresses. And that because the characters were the same in different disguises. The situations changed, the clothing, but what they carried in their souls remained. Those, who were evil, remained evil. Those, who had it in their heart to help others, did so throughout the ages. Who was out on their own gain, searched for it and lost it again.
If you know about schooling actors receive, you know that they are advised to create a sort of personal character and use it as their reference for playing different roles. If they haven’t learned the technique, you often find them accepting roles that resonate to them the most. That doesn’t change even when the next character is evil beyond measure or mild-looking villager. Something always remains and that is often to do with their personal character, the “it” they are hired for. Some call it curse – the role you choose first is the one that follows you forever. To others it’s a way of blessing.
Take Zachary Quinto for example. He played the main antagonist, Sylar in TV series Heroes. In the new Star Trek movies he plays Spock. At first site, there seems nothing in common with them, but make a list of the personality traits both of the characters possess and you find they have similar qualities. Not in decorations, but in foundation. Both possess stubbornness in achieving their goals and extremeness compared with those around them. One is slave to his emotions and hungers and other one fears his own to come forward. In core they are rather similar, an outsider, who don’t belong and are obsessed to control themselves.
When I think back on my own writing, I see the same pattern. I like taking similar character types and redressing them, give them new face and new details and tossing them in new situations. One must be careful with this or they soon discover that all their heroes love the same expressions, too…
At least that’s what I was thinking, when I read stories I have written throughout the years. After a while I reached to the stories I wrote few years ago and noticed a change. But the change didn’t take place in the cores. It was the outside. They were no longer stick figures, they now had meat on the bones.
When I began writing, I went to one of those meet-with-the-author meetings in our local library. She said that “you can skin the hero bare and he’d still be a hero. But it is the little flaws that make them stand out from the perfect world.” Back then I understood it as “give your hero a flaw or a scar”. Now I understand she meant giving them details that make them stand out. He can be the most evil man in the world, but if he believes he is doing the right thing, fighting for the dearest to him, his sacrifices will be noticed and to those reasons even they are heroes for their people. Gengish Khan, and I don’t mean the character in Star Trek, was hero to his people. Probably the character would have also been had his people been awake.
I favor characters that carry the same persistence in their hearts. They have something to fight for and they have been taken to the point, where they must do what’s necessary or lose the dearest to them. That’s why I liked Spok, Khan, Mr. Gold/Rumpelstiltskin, Eli Gold, Lisbeth Salander, Sherlock Holmes, Tyrion Lannister, Arya Stark, Winnetow, – they all are intelligent, sneaky (even Spok) and they don’t hesitate to fight for their love, no matter what. Everything else is just decorations.
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Today’s post is my response to the prompt on “My Favorite Character” this month’s topic for the Merry-Go-Round Blog Tour. Throughout the month, you can get to know twenty (or so) other writers from various genres and backgrounds and at various places in their careers.
Next stop on the tour is B.C. Matthews on May 21st, 2012.