Character and integrity is doing what’s right when no one is watching.
‘A world where a man is judged by the content of his Character, not the color of his skin.’
Martin Luther King Jr.
Character Development, what is it?
Strong Quotes from Strong Characters = Credibility
Is the main character of your play, novel or movie strong enough to carry the plot, if not, the story won’t work? Anyone ever tell you that?
Protagonist by definition means the hero or the one who plays the chief part. Do you really know your lead character(s) or do you think of someone off the top of your head and plant fred, dick or jane there in the midst of the action. Is there a point in your story when the character(s) starts telling you what’s going to happen next and why.
Every one of my favorite authors, in their interviews or biography, has referred to a point in their story where the story “writes itself.”
Harry Potter: The first time you saw Harry, did he look strong or did he look like a child-victim weakened by the loss of his parents? Trust me, if his parents had lived Harry would not be nearly as interesting as he turned out. Harry is a lot like …
The Character sketch of protagonist Howard Roark: The Fountainhead by Ann Rand, copyright 1943. That’s 71 years ago.
This is the authors profile of Howard: A hard forbidding face, hard muscles, tall, slender body, with straight lines and angles. His clothes are loosely worn, hair disheveled, dark grey eyes, dark red eyebrows, low hard throaty voice. The only thing soft is his expression – when he genuinely laughs or smiles.( Alas, even that looks painful -my slant). Never militant or defiant, he displays his utter selfishness without apology. He is not altruistic (not one ounce of him a crowd pleaser).
A reluctant hero, like Harry Potter, is exactly how I would describe him.
Roark doesn’t suffer, because he doesn’t believe in suffering, defeat, or disappointment, ( wonder if he’s an Aries or a Scorpio or both). Roark is concerned with what he does not how he feels. He wants to be himself at all costs. His conflict is with the world, but he is at peace with himself.
A strong character indeed. Do you think you could feel empathy towards this character who in no way considers himself an underdog or a victim ? He has people problems in droves and his circumstances are underdog-ish but he doesn’t wallow in it.
Spoiler: Roark hasn’t worked in five years at his trade, because people want him on his knees poor, and begging, and yes he is a nonconformist. Listen to his response to a man who hires him when so much sentiment, (the Public), is against him. Roark says, “No job is too small, and any man who is an independent thinker is my type of man.” The world presents no painful surprises for him. Consequently, he can no longer be hurt. He is never violent throughout the movie. Even when he commits an act of violence it is not one that creates casualties or death.
Another memorable quote is the one at the trial. A scene where you actually hear his philosophy – straight from the horse’s mouth. He stands in front of the witness chair and after walking the walk, he talks the talk when everything is stacked against him: ‘ It has to be said, the world is perishing from an orgy of self-sacrificing. I came here to say that I do not recognize any man’s right to one minute of my life.”
Copyright 1943 signet books. First printing in US 1952.
Strong characters make strong movies, books, and plays. These types of stories are called ” textbook classics.” Classics usually create profound and memorable quotes in dialogue that’s remembered for years to come – once the author gets out-of-the-way and allows the character’s voice to speak.
Other examples: ‘Tomorrow, tomorrow, tomorrow.” Or, ” I swear, as long as I live, I will never be hungry again.” or “Frankly my dear, I don’t give a damn.”
These strong stories, books, novels, and plays do this over and over, year after year, because the author took the time to develop his character.
I will leave you with the theme song and lyrics from the very strong play, CATS: ‘Are you blind when your born? Can you see in the Dark?’ Then there’s the song’s lyrics from the song Memory: ‘ All alone in the moonlight, I can smile at the old days, I was beautiful than. I remember the time I knew what happiness was, Let the memory live again.’
Seems to me someone ought to point that out in a world where we’re inundated with faster, bloodier, and more violent movies that are only interested in biting you in the neck, but never leave you with memories you want to remember and quotes you want to repeat again and again..
Build strong characters and the beautiful quotes will come along with the credibility for years to come.
Here’s to strong voices in character development and classics.