Monday, 5 September 2011

Do we judge characters too harshly?

I haven't people-watched for many years (this used to be favourite pasttime of mine). Last week we took the kids for a day out at Siam Park, a waterpark fashioned after Sun City's Valley of the Waves. So, the boys are now old enough to go about on their own, and I pulled up a deck chair at a bend along the river rapids... this is a long river/canal that snakes around the water park with various features at different intervals.

I enjoyed a couple of the water rides, but a large portion on my day was spent watching couples come by on their double-tubes and I was amazed at the different reactions. On the bend, spa-like jets bubbled from beneath. Reactions varied from giggles to squeals of 'Oh, God, this is divine' to shouts of 'Ugh, what's that!' and then those few with total bland expressions who didn't react whatsoever.

The flow of water on the bend pushed the tubes into the rocks. Usually, on the double-tubes, the women sit in front with their guys behind them. Some girls pulled their legs in, squealing, content to let the guy guide them to safety. Others took charge and kicked out a foot to push themselves away from the rocks. Some guys took the initiative, paddling furiously to steer clear of the rocks. Other guys were dozing, jerked awake at the last minute (by their other half's squeals) and helped out. Yet others did absolutely nothing. And some of the girls did nothing as well, and the tube went crashing into the rocks.

Fiction is fiction, yet it's supposed to reflect reallity to a certain extent, especially where characterisation is concerned. And all this people-gazing brought home to me that there are so many different personalities in the world, and yes, some of them really are too stupid to live.

And so, maybe, there is a place out there for all kinds of heros and heroines and not just the kick-ass, take charge, independant ones.

13 comments:

  1. I had to laugh out loud at your final observation that "some of them really are too stupid to live." Isn't it funny how we forget about people-watching when we've been busy watching our own children for all those years. Bet it felt good to relax. :)

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  2. Nice reminder to pay attention once in a while! Thanks

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  3. LOL, "some of them really are too stupid to live." Thank goodness there's a place for all types of heroes and heroines :)

    Sounds like a wonderful day.

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  4. I haven't people-watched in ages. I'd forgotten how much fun it is. And, yes, I do hope there is place in fiction for more than just "kick ass" heroines!

    Judy, South Africa

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  5. Since the kids came, I had to devote myself to watching them whenever we were out and about, but fun times are here now that they're almost in their teens :)

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  6. Hi Claire! Saw you on Twitter at the #writecampaign. I love to people watch too ;)

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  7. I totally agree :) We do judge too harshly. I always hear people say, "No one would do that." But the world is populated by all types, so someone probably would. Great post.

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  8. Okay, I definitely love this post. I think we don't want to make characters too bland, but a little bit of people watching would prove that there ARE rather bland people walking through "real" life, so it's all a matter of perception. There are also people who fit every other piece in the wide range of emotions/reactions. So maybe the advice would be simply to stay true to a character, rather than judge their "realness". Whatever you make them out to be, stick to it. Don't throw in the personalities of 5 very different people (unless of course they have such maladies as multiple-personality lol).

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  9. QuidForQuill: definitely, you have to know your character and stay true to them.

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  10. I like this post. I think the expectations for heros and heroines is too narrow. I know there are certain requirements to be a hero, but I like the idea of expanding the make up of our characters rather than making them a one-size-fits-all.
    And, like you, I am so not a Sookie Stackhouse fan. There's nothing wrong with you :-)

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  11. I like that there are so many different types of people in the world, and in my writing, I try to showcase that.

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  12. Hi there,

    Fellow Campaigner dropping by to say hello!

    I think there is definitely a place for heros and heroines who aren't the strong type. Mind you, a strong and capable hero also makes for a nice bit of day-dreaming material from time to time :-)

    Claire

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  13. lol. I remember when we were in Venice watching people in gondolas looking as miserable as a patient at the dentists and all the time they were being serenaded by handsome Italian gondoliers. Hilarious.

    The problem with basing fiction on actual, real life is that some people out there are so boring it'd never sell. You still can't beat a bit of people watching to get ideas though.

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