Category Archives: World, near and far

All about places I visit or just happen by.

Violent #atozchallenge

Fictional character traits

Violent — aggressive, vicious

If you’ve seen a Tarantino film or The Godfather, you’ve seen more than enough violent characters and violence, to the point another fictional killing must work hard to register its aggression.

I have high tolerance for onscreen violence if not senseless. Or constant. Fiction needs highs and lows – build on the highs, hang tight on the lows. But I understand there are horror fans. We’re all unique in our beautiful, interesting, creepy ways.  (smiley face)

However, I can get behind violent characters with psychological depth. Back to The Godfather and Michael Corleone (Al Pacino). There is complexity and layered personality to his gruesome transition from nice guy to disgusting human: devoted to family and his partner, reluctant to join father’s crooked business. An extremely complex character, albeit violent and/or creator of violence.

In The Fall, BBC drama, Jamie Dornan plays a serial killer alongside Gillian Anderson (stellar performance) as police superintendent.

The crimes are partially shown, but the chilling effect comes in the aftermath. A well-developed character from a psychological standpoint, with vulnerable moments galore, and while making  a play for our hearts, not in the least likeable.

In the end, we see this disgusting and good-looking man suffer at his own hand. The story, however morbid, makes good use of the killer’s character to come full circle.

Images; pixabay, jdornanlife

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Unforgiving #atozchallenge

Fictional character traits

Unforgiving – intolerant, demanding.

A word with more meaning than we have time. In the poem If by  Rudyard Kipling, we have the unforgiving moment – once up, the minute is forever gone. We have the unforgiving sunlight, the unforgiving tone. Unforgiving mistress (something courted, unpredictable, severe).

I like the trait in fictional characters that keep coming at audiences, demanding of attention, tough. The human with superhuman vibe.

Alice in Resident Evil — if only the filmmakers didn’t try so hard. Still, gotta love Milla Jovovich, who knows how not to play a damsel in distress. 

Unforgiving is also Professor Escalante (real-life story) portrayed by Edward James Olmos in Stand and Deliver (1988).

Professor Escalante was threatened with dismissal when coming in too early, leaving too late, and failing to get permission to raise funds for Advanced Placement tests. He demanded more of his students (all from low-income families, bad neighborhoods).

In 1982, Escalante came into the spotlight when 18 of his students passed the Advanced Placement Calculus exam. The Testing Service found the scores suspicious. Fourteen students retook the test and all did well enough to have their scores reinstated. One of Escalante’s students said:  If he wants to teach us that bad, we can learn.

Unforgiving in a good way.

Writers rely on language and meaning by reaching for the middle ground, or by taking a trait, negative on its face (unforgiving), and showing its positive effects. Because ~ It ain’t whatcha write, it’s the way atcha write it — Jack Kerouac

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Images: pixabay, theawl

Timid #atozchallenge

Fictional character traits

Timid — shy, hesitant. Close to Quiet (earlier post), but not quite.

I’m attracted to timid characters because of their vulnerability, but like with everything in fiction, reason is everything.

Arthur Dent from Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy isn’t cowardly, he’s just extremely out of his element. His anger and shyness make the character tick.

Arthur Dimmesdale from The Scarlet Letter. He withholds his guilt, and that burden saddles him with timidity. Quasimodo is really shy, but that’s because he lives most of his life locked in Notre Dame due to his ugliness.

In Age of Innocence by Edith Wharton we have a character who can’t make up his mind between being with the woman he proposed to, or the woman he loves. One is sugar, one spice. He needs both to keep his world nice. His timidity comes from moral snobbishness and aloofness. A study in conflicting emotion within the same character.

In Untamed Heart, Cristian Slater plays the timid boyfriend so well, we’re devastated to learn he has a heart condition.

An outdated story with many goofy moments and it works in large part due to the character’s vulnerability, his shyness. Once again, the character makes the story work.

(We’re nearing the end; some posts are getting shorter. How are you all doing, friends?)

Image: pixabay, pinterest

Spoiled #atozchallenge

Fictional character traits

Spoiled — overindulged

My favorite in this category is the spoiled, complex, and pained character. A lot to pull off combining all three, but there are examples.

In The Crown, Princess Margaret is born with all the advantage: beauty, wealth, status. She is also a big brat, as masterfully portrayed by Vanessa Kirby. Yet at Margaret’s death, friend John Julius Norwich said: I have never known an unhappier woman.

Living in a 20-room palace and having it all brings love for all the wrong reasons, and that contributes to emotional misery and overindulgence, as shown in The Crown.

The big why is what explains this character. Why so spoiled? For Margaret, these were the cards she was dealt, true, but when told she’d lose status and money if she married the love of her life, Margaret walked away from love.  No judgment, just answering the big why.  Status came before love, and the choice brought emotional sorrow.

Another scenario: a spoiled young woman whose fed up boyfriend walks away. When she realizes her upbringing brought her here — father leaving family, replacing absence with money — she tries to change. Or not, like Margaret. She throws herself into toxic relationships and alcohol. Only maturity slaps her with regret.

In both examples, we need tons of inner tension. A character who changes, learns, grows. Or lives to regret it.

Images: pixabay, stuff.co.nz