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Viking ZX

Author of Science-Fiction and Fantasy novels! Oh, and some fanfiction from time to time.

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Being a Better Writer: Connecting with Characters · 8:33pm Oct 18th, 2016

I went out with my buddies to see a movie late last night.

I won't tell you the title, as it isn't important for our purposes right now, but I will tell you that it wasn't that fantastic a film. It was ... I suppose "adequate" is the best word I could use to describe it. But nothing more. The film wasn't exactly grand. It was simply ... a film. A sequence of events, with some action, some attempt at drama, etc.

So, of course, me being me, I immediately started asking myself why I felt that way as I watched the movie. And there were a lot of obvious answers. There were clear pacing problems, plot problems, character development issues ... I mean, this wasn't a gold star flick.

But the one issue that stood out to me more than any other was that I simply didn't connect with any of the characters. None of them appealed to me strongly or even at all (and the one that could have come closest ended up being sidelined incredibly effectively, so that put that character out of the running).

Had there been that connection, I think the movie would have been a lot more tolerable. But without it, the movie was just ... there. I could nod as the special effects danced across the screen, or chuckle at the odd line of dialogue here. But without any connection to the characters, everything else was, by comparison, hollow. Had I been watching the movie on Netflix, I doubt I would have lasted long. At the very least I would have started doing something else at the same time, since the movie wasn't enough to hold my full interest that often.

Right, so enough about the movie. What I wanted to talk about was that problem that I found with it, where I didn't connect with the characters. Because this isn't a possible problem that is limited to movies. Not at all. It's something that can plague writing as well.

So let's talk about it.

You can read the rest of this post at Unusual Things

Comments ( 3 )

Eh, you say that connections need to be made, and write at some length about when to make them... but not a great deal about how to make them. Since that's the trickiest part, I'd hope for more...

It's the difference between why I like the Walking Dead and not Fear the walking dead (FTWD).

FTWD had the worst chars to relate to.
There was the shrewish wife.
Spineless husband between ex wife and current wife.
Twit of a teen aged daughter.
Finally, the druggy son.

What? There are no normal folks in LA?
I only watched the show to see how things fell apart.
Once I saw that, I was gone.

The walking dead had more relateable chars.
These folks seemed like nice people and it was easier to care about them.

Even the Guvnor, who was a dirtbag had some relate-able bits.
The scene where he combs the hair of his zombie daughter was pretty sad.

I thought the latter part of the article covered that pretty well, personally. You give your character insights, situations, or objectives that people can relate to.

Personally I couldn't get into TWD either. Too many characters in the first few episodes suffering from "too dumb to live."

Seriously, that whole bit where they're trapped in a variety store, lamenting that there's nothing to either A) Barricade the doors with or B) fight the zombies off with. Then when they finally realized that zombies were attracted by sound and a car alarm would pull the horde off, rather than throwing a brick or something from the roof to make it happen, the send someone out on foot to activate a car alarm.

I couldn't take it. Those characters did not deserve to live.

But that's another topic entirely, and TWD is definitely not the only show/book/game to suffer from that particular problem ...

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