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What can the new Jason Bourne Movie teach us about Character Development?
In this episode, Taylor tackles a listener question based on a review of the new movie, Jason Bourne. The reviewer criticized the film for having characters that were less three-dimensional and less engaging than past movies in the series.
While the time constraints provided by movies are different than the page number constraints imposed on authors, the character development techniques can be surprisingly similar, especially when comparing action movies with the high-octane character studies that Taylor writes in her Vanessa Michael Munore series.
Believable characters all have their own wants and desires and they’re more interesting when readers (or viewers) are able to understand their flaws, weaknesses, and vulnerabilities.
Of course, “superhero” type characters like Bourne and Munroe can be seen in places other than film and novels. Steve grew up reading Superman and Batman comics and shares some observations on the three-dimensional nature of the heroes and some of the supporting characters in those comics. Taylor carefully avoids picking a favorite in the long-running Superman vs. Batman debate, but Steve’s bias for Batman does sneak its way into the discussion.
Thanks so much for joining us again this week.
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Creative Commons Image by Geralt.
clearly some characters get more developed than others, yet … somehow some authors have the ability to make even small characters feel real. maybe “true” is a better word. stephen king comes to mind — and there’s a lot of non-real stuff happening in most of his books :). i guess that’s why he’s stephen king.
in the thriller world, i feel like john sandford and michael connelly have that ability as well. even though they have long-running series, which is clearly a different proposition than a one-off book, when i go back and read their first books, the side characters feel pretty solidly part of the world being created, even back then.
it’s a puzzle to me how exactly those authors (and taylor!) create such vivid(ly real) characters. clearly there is no magic formula, but i just can’t see what they do differently than plenty of other popular authors which simply do not, IMHO, reach that level of truth/reality. And maybe it is just me.
btw, taylor talked about characters having a life off the page. i remember that roger zelazny (excellent sf writer, sadly died prematurely many years ago) once said that he always wrote one scene not included in the book, in the belief that it made all the events and characters that much richer, to have this other event/whatever that got referred to, that they “lived” through, etc., but not actually present. it seemed a neat idea.
thanks for the great show, as always.
Thanks, Karl – I am with you on John Sanford’s almost magical ability to quickly create characters that jump off the page. Have you ever tried Zelazny idea of writing a scene not in the book to see whether or not it helps? It does seem like an interesting idea.