Tuesday, June 21, 2005

Small things...They mean so much

I was thinking more about characterization with Alicia Rasley's workshop and about Casablanca.

And I realized sometimes it's the little moments that add insight and depth to your characters.

In Casablanca, Captain Renault tells Rick there will be an arrest at his bar. Rick realizes who will be arrested and there is a moment of hesitation. That hesitation tells us a lot about his character, even more so than his later line, "I stick my neck out for nobody." There are lots more scenes like that add depth to Rick, which aren't "big" moments.

One great movie that tells you a lot about its characters in a small amount of time using little moments is "Aliens." Now before you laugh, it does. There is a squadron of soldiers. They aren't in the film too long (you can imagine why in a film like "Aliens"). So they have to be defined by dialogue and small actions. Hicks is one the of the characters who has a lot shown about him in little pieces. In one scene that if you blink you miss it, they are all looking at a control panel. The little girl, Newt, is too short to see and is jumping up and down to try and get a peek. Without a word, he picks her up and sits her on the side where she can see. Nothing is said about it. But man does that speak volumes about his character without hitting you over the head with it.

Stephan King is a master at defining characters in small amounts of time, but using little things. In "The Stand" in a scene near the opening, he has Stu Redman reach up and cut the power to the gasoline pumps just before a car crashes into them. He's the only one who thinks to do it and he says nothing, just reaches up and does it. What a character defining moment. But in the grand scheme of the whole book, it's a small scene.

I think as I work on my work in progress, I'm going to look for little moments where I can add depth to my characters.


Today I'm putting out my first official newsletter. I feel so official. And I'm running my first official contest *g*. To be entered in the contest, join my newsletter at: http://groups.yahoo.com/group/mechele_armstrong. Must be over 18 to join the group and win. This month's prize, a box of Crayon themed treasures.

May the crayons have sharp tips


Blogger Melissa Lopez said...

Oh, I like this! Little things! And, it's so true! I must practice using this tool too.

:-) Mel

7:06 PM  
Blogger Mary Stella said...

Yes, the little things give definition and essence to characters. Those little things are often more interesting to me, too.

9:18 PM  

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