How admirable would the characters in “The Story” generally be in most situations? As much as I don’t like to have manufactured psychological opinions of characters when I write fiction, because it’s just as dangerous to assume that you know how people will always act, some generalities can be generally OK. If we know that saying something will probably offend someone else, why say it? Would the reasons have to break character or be important…?
Spoilers?: Minor [exploring general psychologies]
I’ve always imagined John to be more submissive to Trishna than the reverse.
There are plot reasons for this that would shape John’s personality both for what Trishna’s family has done for him and what they didn’t do to him. These are potent reasons that can generally shape anyone, fictional or real, to act in certain ways. If the actions of someone were particularly noteworthy, positive or negative, I will generally remember that when approaching that same person in a similar future situation. Whether that influences my approach is the nuance that gives spice to life.
Let’s say John was to disturb a hypothetical bird’s nest to acquire an item.
In FF7, this scenario plays out with either a battle over some items or some admirable dialogue, and it’s an easy way to test our own moralities. In “The Story,” I could imagine that John would usually always act in ways to please Trishna rather than acquire some item. The part that makes this hypothetical boring is the transition from “would” to “will always.” That applies my own psychological bias of what predicting what John will always do, rather than, given historical trending information, it would be possible that John could act like this rather than like that.
Stated another way, predictive psychology is dangerous.
Analyzing past psychological actions is not, and using past actions to possibly guide us could be helpful, but also could be dangerous. That’s where writing about the psychologies of these characters can be tricky, because what happens when their psychologies change given a strange or morally dicey situation? Would there ever be an example where John would steal from a bird’s nest? Or make Trishna unhappy? Certainly, there must be examples of this, otherwise, there his character would have a two-dimensionality that would be paper-thin and not realistic.
Sometimes, we’d steal items from bird’s nests without realizing we’d offend others.
Sometimes, still, we might even offend others out of malicious intent. While it might be interesting to explore hypothetical examples here where John might betray the trust of Trishna, I would rather do so in less hypothetical examples, which is to say, actual scenes that could actually appear in “The Story,” rather than a writing exercise exploring a perspective on some fictional characters. Manufacturing such events, then, would not reveal the same degree of psychological depth as much as experiencing them through brainstorming exercises throughout my day.
Besides, we already explored one hypothetical.
How much value would it take for an item to be more valuable than Trishna’s admiration? Now, asking questions like that does give us a general psychological analysis of where a character’s, or person’s, priorities lead them. If John were most interested in making Trishna happy, would it be possible for him to lose her admiration in the short-term for some hypothetical long-term admiration? Is there a force more valuable to John than Trishna’s happiness? Does that manifest directly as seeing her smile and appreciate things about him?
These are all great questions, except, they feel more like filler to me.
I would rather imagine John in a scenario and see what happens as a result of it. This could be why, for Novel 01, many of the branching morality paths were simple enough to follow. Even when there are examples where characters, like Nils or Fairydust, have some clear negative or positive direction, introducing some positive or negative elements would seek to enhance our understandings of these characters rather than deeply challenge what we understood. I wonder, then, if my opinions above will change as I write more psychologically-conflicted characters with less apparent moralities?
I suppose that’s the whole point of this essay, isn’t it?
If I lay down the tracks of thought in only one direction, without considering alternate directions, how can I grow as a writer – or even as a person? I’ve learned recently to value the ambiguity of life. Becoming comfortable when the answer isn’t clear is a form of confidence. Even when we answer a question wrong, or do something incorrectly, if we know that we generally will trust that in that moment we did what we thought would be best – whether that best was for ourselves, for others, or for anything else – now, those are complex questions.
Do we always do what’s in our best interests?
I think, generally, yes, but there is the subjectivity of “best” in this scenario. When is it best for me to act in one way or another? In the FF7 example, there are times when the bird’s nest’s item could be valuable or worthless, so when we approach the items in different parts of our gameplay, we assess the items in relation to our current “best course.” If I played a low-level run, 10 Phoenix Downs could be valuable, whereas if I played with Level 99 characters, then those Phoenix Downs would mean nothing to my FF7 playthrough. This becomes less interesting because, when applied to “The Story,” I can’t think of a reason why John would disrupt the bird’s nest.
Would thinking of these fringe morality cases would help develop characters?
Possibly, but then, I tend to think of psychology like the Pareto principle, where 80% of the time, people will act as they usually do, so it’s important to be open to the 20% where they might act differently. Still, it’s easier to bank on that 80% factor, and if they act in that 20% counter manner, then hey.
Isn’t that’s why it’s more interesting to talk or interact with people rather than computers, right?
|Sources: The Story’s Imaginarium.|
|Inspirations: I wrote this essay after I wrote the FF7 essay that will publish tomorrow, so I already explored some of the themes there, but here, it’s less about FF7 and more about “The Story,” but both contained themes from the other, so who knows? And as far as the min/max concept mentioned in the MORE tag, well, isn’t predicting psychology meant to minimize negative scenarios and maximize positive scenarios?|
|Related: Essays building “The Story.”|
|Written On: 2020 June 08 [11:06pm to 11:41pm]|
|Last Edited: 2020 June 08 [First draft; final draft for the Internet.]|