Wednesday, 12 May 2010

How Well Do You Know Your Characters . . . ?

Incase you hadn't guessed, I'm also a bit of a film buff. I love a good film - even a bad one if it keeps me entertained for an hour and half. I watch them for the enjoyment factor, regardless of bad script, rubbish effects or silly plots. Bad acting is an exception. There's only so much a person can take.

Anyway, I watched `Inkheart` yesterday. I've heard about this film, but not taken much notice. I can't remember it being in the cinema, and if it was, it must have been a flop because it wasn't showing for long. I did know that it involved books and reading, though. So when I saw the DVD on sale for £3 - yes, £3!!! - I nabbed it. If it was bad, I wouldn't have lost that much.

As it turned out, it was actually quiet enjoyable, and makes a great family film. Okay, the dialogue left a little to be desired, but that was over-shadowed by the story line. Brendon Fraser plays a man with a gift. Whenever he reads aloud, he brings the characters of the book to life, and the last book he ever read aloud was one called `Inkheart` nine years ago. It had disastrous affects that have haunted him ever since, and eventually they catch up with him for the dramatic climax of the film. Light hearted and enjoyable stuff.

One part really grabbed me. Paul Bettany plays a character called Dustfinger, who is a flame thrower brought across from the book, and who wants nothing more than to just go back home. In one scene, he gets to meet the writer of Inkheart - the very person who created him. He was terrified at meeting him at first because he didn't want to know his fate. He didn't know how the book ended, and he was scared of finding out. The author, on the other hand, loved him and was so surprised that his character was everything he imagined him to be. As a writer, I sympathised with all of this, and it had me hooked.

It also had me thinking. How well do you know your characters? What would happen if you met them in the flesh? How would you feel? How would they feel? It prompted me with the idea for a writing exercise. It's intended to help practice the art of writing, and as a way of getting to know your characters better.

Choose a character that you've created, whether they're your favourite, your hero or heroine, your villain or your villain's henchman. Maybe they're a person you know really well, or a person you want to get know a bit better. Once you've chosen, imagine they become real - either through means of magic, science fiction, or whatever scenario your imagination creates - and then you meet.

As a writing exercise, how would you feel to meet to them?

As a character building exercise, how would they feel? What would they do? What would their reaction be? Would they hail you as their god? Or would they hate you, discovering that their entire life and all their tragedies has been created just for a good read?

Who is your character?

If you feel inspired by this little exercise, let me know the outcome. I'd love to read and view other people's concepts.


  1. I think my protagonist would be very disappointed with me. I put her through a traumatic quest while killing and maiming those she held dear. I don't think the ultimate, positive (although bittersweet) conclusion would make it up to her. She never wanted to be a "hero". I forced her into it.

  2. One of my characters would despise me. He a sorcerer and the story tells of how he falls for a woman and how they marry before he becomes bewitched. At the end he actually kills her in a fit of rage, but it's this that brings him back to himself.

    I wouldn't like to meet him, let's just