Marissa Lingen (mrissa) wrote,
Marissa Lingen

Very special episodes.

During his visit, alecaustin and I watched the Doctor Who "specials" discs, and markgritter watched the last two with us. (timprov apparently has a self-preservation instinct.) And it triggered a theory or perhaps a reminder for the writerly types:

If you feel that you have to have sympathetic supporting characters reminding the reader/viewer at every turn of how Just Plain Gosh-Darn Wonderful your central character is, this is a warning sign that your central character has not been acting Just Plain Gosh-Darn Wonderful enough in plain sight of the reader/viewer.

In the seventh grade we were solemnly taught a list of things you can know about characters, and they included things other people say about them and things they believe about themselves. But these things cannot trump actions. If you have somebody being a megalomaniac onscreen--if you have them being self-indulgent or self-involved or a whiner or whatever else that is not sympathetic and amazing and gosh-darn wonderful--after a certain point, the sympathetic character saying, "Jinkies, you're swell," does not give us information about the non-swell person. It gives us information that the sympathetic person is willing to self-delude and/or ignore evidence. Which is also important information! Just not in the same way. So beware the protag who suddenly seems to have people declaring, "You're dreamy," in herds and droves. This is telling you something, and the thing it's telling is often pretty sketchy.
Tags: full of theories, small screen

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