I have just read through a thread on developing characters and am suddenly struck with an idea of elaborating here some thoughts. Look at movies. I now use movies to help me develop the writing craft. I looked at the way Jennifer Lawrence expressed her character Tiffany in the five minute interchange she had with Bradley Cooper's Pat in Silver Linings Playbook. She essentially did it by quickly telling a remarkable story of how the character she was portraying actually suffered a breakdown by having sex with 11 members in her office. Outside the movie, one would not think of how unbelievable such an activity was. But she made it work. I would have to look at the script for any particular direction that was provided. Eventually we learn that the death of her husband led to such supposed activity. We find out quickly, in a few sentences, that she had refused sex to her husband a month or so before his accidental death. (Indeed, she was a woman who found out she didn't want to have children - that was quickly stated, too) And the death itself was rather unremarkable and expressed minimally - a car hit him as he stopped to help a disabled passenger on "highway 76." These were quick sketches that told a lot. How would a writer describe the line of slaves in the opening scene in Django? Or take a look at Amour. Certainly there are subtle shifts of character development as Emmanuelle Riva's Anne becomes sicker and sicker. I challenge myself and ask how would a writer describe such changes. I distinctly noted a scene in which the husband character suddenly started limping.
When I write my stories, I write them with movie script in mind. I have a long way to go toward reaching the required skills. In a recent story, I described the ma from the view of the 11-year-old daughter as "stupid." Part of the idea came from an important online dialogue I had with another writer after reading his novel in which the female character was unremarkable and did not like to have "intellectual" conversations. I didn't really know what that meant. But I guess it covered such discussions as news. I noted that (in the novel) the woman worked well with and really loved children. I must be careful in this territory, but frankly there are people like that and I have known and respected a few. The "respect" is important simply because I don't want people to be involved in lots of political affairs and I say this coming from a rather activist life. I want to know that people are living, what, wholesome, healthy and entertaining lives. Shoots, they could sit in front of the TV all day. Of course, the other part of me yearns for so-called intellectual discussions, but that's not the point of this. That's subject to another blog. Perhaps I will promote some value or thought of Whitman who seem to view all people sparkling leaves of grass. The writer should be able to take each of those sparkles and with a quick sentence or two, enrich us by describing their lives.
"It was only after this that Lisa became a nuisance client." That's the way mystery writer (of Lincoln Lawyer fame) described one of his protagonists in the book I just finished The Fifth Witness. The book is excellent and I am studying it as an aide to a detective story I must rewrite. An excellent writer, I close with it here to remark the best study for character development is, ultimately, through reading other writers.
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