Tuesday, February 5, 2008

Balancing reality

I used to roleplay. (The forum-based variety, which is the equivalent to communal story-telling. No unpleasant connotations intended.) When I roleplayed I was always worried about Mary-Sues, about being believable and being proper and making 'real' characters. To tell the truth those characters were rather dull. I roleplayed fantasy, and it just did not work.

Then I did NaNoWriMo. I am tired of psychology. I refuse ever to worry about whether my character is a Mary-Sue again. I let my characters be what they need to be, whether that is depressed, naive, or idealistically heroic.

Some time ago, probably reading those essays I found by Ursula Le Guin, I encountered the idea that fantasy is NOT reality. Odd idea, eh? I thought so too.

There was also something about seeing a characters as pieces of each other, using Lord of the Rings as an example. There was an interpretation as Frodo, Sam, and Golum making one complete character. Only one interpretation of course, but it is an interesting one to consider. This is a critical interpretation, but it can be used by writers as well. I remember reading about how George Lucas cast is characters as a group rather then individuals, and we all know how that turned out.

Elves! Elves are a better example. Elves are perfect. If an authors tells me otherwise I will throw their books across the room. But the perfect sorts of Elves are balanced by darker or more mischievous counterparts - trolls, goblins, and the like.

Making characters realistic and believable is important, but in doing so the characters should not be compromised. Some characters just need to be heroes, and sometimes you need a bit of purity and perfection.

1 comment:

Conda said...

Interesting post for me as I have just begun working on my new novel, which is a fantasy. And working on the characters...