On Saturday, my daughter and I enjoyed the Harry Potter exhibition at a local venue. The props made for the movies are exquisitely detailed, in fact, a good deal of the hard work that went into producing them is totally missed when we view the movie. The costumes are elaborate and beautifully sewn, with textures and accessories unseen by audiences. Wands, books, jars and all manner of other props have been painstakingly created for visual effect but lost during the action of the characters. Unfortunately, photography was not allowed in the exhibition. However, this chess piece was displayed at the entry desk. An interactive ‘pulling up of a mandrake’ was a highlight of the exhibition. Hearing them squeal was fun. After exiting the exhibition it occurred to me that when we create characters and scenes in our narrative, we have to carefully balance the amount of detail we reveal. Too much or too little can lose the reader’s attention.
After the Harry Potter exhibit, we discovered another ‘bonus’ exhibition entitled ‘How to Make a Monster’. There were videos and partially formed figures detailing and showing, the process of creating a monster from drawing board to fully automated figure. The creators experimented with colors, textures and patterns to find the ‘right’ look for the creature they were building. This process is similar to our own character development. We pick their hair and eye color, their personality type and back story enabling us to write a complete character.
Monsters come in all shapes and sizes, human and beast. It takes skill and an understanding of how they think and react to situations that make them compelling. My vengeful witch in, The Rython Kingdom, was convinced she had the right to destroy for the imprisonment she had suffered. My Lord of the manor in, The Twesome Loop, thought his position entitled him to abuse those serving under him. Both characters are mean minded, evil and despicable, that is their attraction for our readers, who want to see them conquered.
A ‘monster’ in any guise has to be believable in the context of the narrative as well as have some sort of redeeming feature, no matter how small. A raging dinosaur might be protecting it’s eggs, any cornered animal will fight to survive, a serial killer has a compulsion or belief that their actions are permissible or they are driven to them. Take the TV show Dexter, he is a serial killer in disguise but still calmly kills people! His motive is to rid the world of murderers.
What is your most ‘evil’ character? What traits did you use to portray them?