Can we truly write any character without referring, even tangentially, to personal or professional experience? No matter how fantastic, bizarre, or false a character’s actions may seem to us, they are still rooted in some level of perception of our reality. Even filtered post-collaboration, most characters still represent certain unshakeable authorial archetypes of personality. Let’s explore how similar John [center] and Trishna [right] might be to me as their character arcs develop in “The Story.”
Spoilers?: Minor (character development/exploration)
After all, John and Trishna grew up with me.
Their nebulosity formed nearly twenty years ago. Before any employment or any perception of reality outside of movies, anime, videogames, reading essays on the Internet, or the occasional conversation with others, and about as sheltered as you could get, they grew up in the background of my imagination.
Are they part of me?
I don’t know mentally where they came from, but I know physically where: my high school’s library. In the study cubby on the far-right end, while I was working on some homework, they wandered into my imagination. Just like that. Maybe they jumped in from some graffito made by some young couple?
Maybe John was me and Trishna was my ideal girlfriend?
Origin doesn’t really matter. Like roleplaying characters starting as pre-defined archetypes, both are heavily-customized characters upon which their own traits developed. Some are mine. Most are unique to the scenarios that play out like an imaginary movie playing on an infinite loop I can drop in on.
My perception of “that movie” influences them.
If we consider writing to balance “here’s roughly where I think this story will go with how these characters will act…” with “wow! These characters surprised me with this revelation about themselves!,” an approach to figuring out specific characters is taking personality tests from their perspectives.
Even though I’ve reliably tested as an INTJ for years, I think it’s dangerous to fit characters (or ourselves) into personality boxes. Let them/us breathe! Even if we artificially push them/ourselves in different directions, that’s external bias. Even injecting influences from others won’t reveal personality traits!
But depends on how much you consider personality to even be real.
Let’s say someone acts reliably in certain situations. What happens when they… don’t? Are they acting against their personality or exhibiting an unknown side of their personality? Are we tied to our traits, like planets orbiting a star? What happens if a stressor meteor enters our own personality orbit?
Should we act in accordance with our pre-established patterns?
Even if that means crashing to be psychologically congruent? I think we’re so tied to the ideas of characters – both fictional like John and Trishna and realistic like our colleagues – having pre-existing archetypes because it’s simply easier. It’s easier to codify, predict, and react to personality types we understand.
Maybe the trick is writing creating and discarding “villainous” characters?
Then, after practicing nuanced amorality, bravely write other characters “as themselves?”
|Sources: My writing experience.|
|Inspirations: On a walk, after tapping into the part of my imagination where “The Story” resides, which I’ll refer to as “The Story’s Imaginarium,” I asked myself directly: are John and Trishna just my masculine and feminine sides fictionalized? The answer is somewhat but fully so.|
|Related: Essays building “The Story,” specifically “Interpreting Personality Tests.”|
|Photo: I don’t quite have a minifig representing myself, but I’ve always been fond of these skeletons, so maybe that’s my in-universe avatar for at least this go around?|
|Written On: June 1st, 2nd|
|Last Edited: June 2nd|