Putting the ‘Care’ in ‘Character’

07 Feb

That’s a terrible blog title. I’m sorry.

Sunday, while the rest of North America was watching some football game, I watched Secretariat. And cried all the way through it. Again. Horses get me every time.

After that I thought I’d watch something funny. I hadn’t watched The Return of Nanny McPhee yet, so I popped it in.

I cried all the way through that one too. In my defense, I was taking quite a lot of cold medication.

It got me thinking … it’s a silly children’s movie, why did I care so much about these characters? First of all, it might be a silly children’s movie, but the characters have serious motivations. The children are all degrees of horrible, but they have reasons to be horrible. The country children are hard working and worrying about their father, away at war. The city children are spoiled, yes, but their parents hardly pay any attention to them, and they’re getting a divorce. Even the bad guy has a reason for the dreadful things he does, what with the scary women after his kidneys.

Jennifer Crusie has a great blog about how characters need to flawed in order for you to care about them, and I think that’s why I got so wrapped up in the movie, despite the nonsense with the poo jokes and the gassy bird and the dancing pigs and the flying grain.

My conclusion, is that you can make any story compelling, if you have characters that your audience cares about. Which of course makes me think about my characters.

Adelaide is pretty cool. She’s good at most everything, she can take care of herself, and she’s beautiful. Even when I was first writing her, I was afraid she was too perfect, that she would be unlikeable. But she also manipulates people to get what she wants. She’s impulsive, reckless even. And she really can’t hold her whiskey. 😉 Okay, that’s not really a character flaw, but it is a funny scene, one of my favorites.

In my head, Stella has a nice character arc in her story. In the beginning, she lets someone else fight her battles. Her mom, or her best friend are always there for her. When she’s transported back in time, she has to look after herself, and she learns that she can stand on her own two feet. I hope her growth comes through in the story … time for another read through I think!

The Return of Nanny McPhee definitely gave me food for thought! It still wasn’t as good as the first one, mind you, though that could be due to the lack of Colin Firth.

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Posted by on February 7, 2011 in writing


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