Thursday, April 23, 2009

Character Building

When I prepare for an acting role I play very much by the Stanislavski rule book. I read through the script and see what the character has to say about themselves, what actions they make and what the other characters have to say about them. I think of my character in terms of what colour or what animal would best describe them, and then I step inside them and I try to figure them out on an emotional level. What has led the character to the place they are now at? Why are they the way they are? How would a typical day run for them? How would they react in a supermarket, on public transport, at a disco?
Some characters have simple motivations and are easy to work out. Others are more complex, but it is important to remember that all of them are performing actions because they are driven by want, desire and need. Characters don't see themselves as good or evil. In their mind, they are the hero. They may do things that are selfish or that hurt other people, but it is because their good intentions went wrong, or they feel threatened or they are seeking revenge for wrongs committed against them or their loved ones.
When you write a book, you have to get under the skin of each of the characters, not just one. I find this particularly interesting when it comes to the villain in Gift. I think I have created a well rounded character in the antagonist, and I hope other people will think so too. In fact, perhaps some people will even root for the 'bad guy'.
Then again, I hope I have managed to portray the complexities in the other characters as well. In many ways the main character is as much the villain as the one I have labeled the antagonist. After all, no one is wholly good or evil, and isn't it much more interesting when characters have flaws as well as strengths?

6 comments:

Anonymous said...

Very interesting - makes me want to read your book. However, i may disagree with what you say on a philosophical level. I think people can become very nearly wholly good or wholly evil although most of us battle inbetween. I know people are not born bad and I don't deny that their original motives may be based on a 'good' - but many deliberately go to the dark side and 'make evil their good'. Equally, 'good' people have their side but what makes them good is that they renounce this side or repent of their weakness and choose goodness.
I think hero/heroine can have a weakness or make a wrong choice but if they are ambivulent about good/bad- then I don't really see them as heroic.
That is not to say that evil characters are not often the most compelling in a book - think Dracula- totally evil- fascinating - terrifying but realistic. I know people felt the same about Lucifer in Milton's Paradise Lost, although I did not find him that good. I think Sauron and Saraman in Tolkien were also good embodiments of evil - but in a proud cold way. Dracula was so great because their was a lot of human in him.
ANyway, I'm sure your antagonist is a brilliant character (but beware delving too much into the dark side - think of that episode of the x files - is it Grotesque?)
BTW- the followers in the Search for the Moon trilogy were very evil and scarey yet were individuals.

Shadowthorne said...

I love evil characters! (the main bosses i mean)

Tell us about him / her, with great detail, even with his / her make believe history.

We'll judge him / her for you. :)

DNOTY2007 said...

I like the depth you go into, for both acting and writing! Looking forward to reading your masterpiece!

SSQuo said...

Inkpot – this is precisely what I mean when I said that I love Hannibal – he is an example of the character with flaws but also strengths. :)

‘They may do things that are selfish or that hurt other people, but it is because their good intentions went wrong…’ - This line is veryyy interesting

Tell me this is how you view people in the real world too. Is this an extension of your thinking as well? I have a feeling it may be!

G. Coppard said...

Wonderful post, Inky Ink. The best antagonist for me is someone I like, but I feel just a little guilty about it.

Shadowthorne said...

Oi I LIKE truly evil characters; you know, without mercy and stylishly demonic. Which oozes class and very very intelligent.

And never dirty his own hands @ claws unless at the very end, against the so said hero.

As the Joker said in Darknight (again I quote); this city needs a better class of criminals.

:) And Sauron Rules!!