Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Of surprising personalities

It’s common to find me thinking about people to the point where the subject no longer is the person I’m observing, but a character of its own. Fortunately I know that these thoughts usually leave minimum trace behind, so the disaster that could happen is easily avoided – that is, filling myself with all sorts of preconceptions about them.

Anyway, it’s when I’m observing those people and creating characters that I’ve been noticing one nice pattern. Apparently thinking of a hidden secret of this person might make suddenly feel like a very alluring and enchanting character.

For instance, there’s this rich-looking woman here, and I long to be wrong about her personality. Maybe she’s single against all odds. Maybe she’s insecure (against all odds). By this point, I’m already with a character in my mind, and it’s getting a life of its own (like a quintessential soup of some sort). And it’s interesting that I’m finding this pattern coming up more often with those rich and successful people, adding element of having a broken cog inside them.

Rich people are usually good for those exercises because I’m suddenly noticing (and I hope it’s not just a mermaid effect of polarization) that rich people are usually boring and those who mostly lack an interesting personality (money can’t buy that, and apparently it even takes that away from us). They have no struggles and, who cares about them.

But I think there’s more than simply finding a flaw for an otherwise perfect and successful person. Usually a surprising twist can be enough for it. This apparently weak or clumsy person reveals himself to be strong and a good leader in moments of need. Revelations about sexuality might not always be the best trigger for this event. I think it can work but it can be a cheap trick, as it’s not the sexuality itself that makes the character exceptional, but the possibility of it being a conflict for them (and shouldn’t we have more characters who have other problems bigger than their own sexuality to define them?). I think an apparently feminine woman showing signs of not giving importance to delicate and fragile things might work for a charismatic personality.

But I wonder again if this would really be a grail for character-making. This would be dealing with the problem of inflation. If all characters reveal this pattern, it becomes bland in a minute. No, the trick lies in the distribution of unpaired elements.

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