Did you ever watch the movie "Shakespeare in Love"? There was this one point where Shakespeare is talking to this one actor and tells him the part's great - "...he dies with such passion!"
The actor frowns and says, "He dies?"
Somehow that got me thinking about a game many play I'm sure - it's taking a book like Pratchet & Gaimen's "Good Omens" and casting all the characters with the actor that's right for it.
And that let me to this thought - how many of my characters are the same person from story to story, just with a new name and dressed differently?
Do you have a stable of characters you recast as needed to fill in? Or do you constantly create only new characters?
August 23rd, 2006, 01:24 AM
I tend to make up characters for stories; I don't usually re-use old characters. But there's a deeper question, here: do I invent the same character all over again? Characters that should all be played by the same actor?
Interestingly though, if I try to cast my own characters, there isn't just one actor I can see in the role. For example, I can imagine my character, Barnabas Reed, to be played by Gary Oldman, Ralph Fiennes, or Richard E. Grant. Very different versions of the same character, and I'm still open to new versions.
So what then gives a character coherence? What's the core of a character? How much is put into a character and how much is left open to imagination?
It's interesting to think about this. I have no answer, yet.
August 23rd, 2006, 06:25 AM
I think the type of person you are affects what type of character you go back to, even gender plays a part I think - I'm not sure what it says but my characters always end up as lone swordsmen, grizzled veterans, Captain Kirk types and the occasional crazy person. The late, great David Gemmell seemed to have a regular set of character types that appeared in most of his books which were almost always staples of the heroic fantasy genre. To that end I don't think it's important whether you reuse the same type of character as long as they fit into the storyline/world you create. Similarly finding a real life analogue in the acting business may not work, as DS pointed out, because physically it's unlikely you're going to match someone from a small pool numerically with what your imagination has created, unless you write with someone in mind. I think as long as an actor catches the spirit of your character, which is likely to be down to how well the character is written, then physical attributes don't matter. I think Dawnstorm's list for Barnabas is interesting because each of the actors has a chameleon like ability to be any number of people and that kind of flexability and talent suggests it is the essence of the character that is more important.
August 23rd, 2006, 08:01 AM
I suspect all my characters are different faces of me.
But I can detect no proprietary feelings about who should play them.
This morning, it seems, that I only own the characters while I'm writing the story. Once I finish it, they tend to depart an already overcrowded memory. Most times I must go back and re-read the story to find out anything about them.
August 23rd, 2006, 09:38 AM
When I'm reading novels, I frequently end up associating an actor with at least some of the main characters. However, I never do that with my own characters when I write.
I'm sure that says something, but I have no idea what... :)
August 24th, 2006, 12:01 AM
My characters are from some part of my own experience base, or from what I wish was my experience base.
And some of my characters are quite similar, only the names were changed, and I suspect if I put them in the same scene they would clash in the worst way.
Sometimes I write characters that are so different from those I've done before I wonder where in the world they came from.
August 24th, 2006, 01:13 AM
I have re-cycled characters. Quite often I have taken a strong character from a failing story and put him/her into another and the thing has jelled.
I don't like heros and villians to be totally black and white if that makes sense, so quite often they seem to swap places so to speak.
I do find I writer stronger characters if they are based a little on real people. Especially speech patterns and mannerisms.
I find when I watch a film or TV program I watch the actors closely to see how they "react" the body language. I try to put bits of that in my work. I seem to go more for telling tales through dialogue/characters actions and reactions rather than huge discriptive sections.