Friday, December 11, 2015

Character perceptions in settings

I wanted to look at character perceptions in settings this week and how we can use them to our advantage as an author. How your individual character interprets the world around them will showcase not only their personality, but the core parts of their character, their history and backstory, their likes and dislikes. In short, it will show the reader the unique parts of who your characters is and why they see the world the way they do.

So, the easiest way to go about this that I can think of is by example. I'm going to give you an image of a very basic scene. And then I'm going to give an example of how 3 different characters would/could interpret this setting. So here goes...

Three characters:

* An old, ex-military general who has served around the world on the front lines

* A green-thumb mid-forties housewife
* A teenage college student who studies history and babysits at the weekends

So how could each of these characters interpret this scene differently?

Well, let's look at our military general first:

He (let's call him Bob)...Bob might walk into this room and because of his life experience might notice the globe first as he's used to traveling and it would be something he'd connect to subconsciously. He might then notice the placement of doors and windows (sounds odd? Well, a military man trained in knowing how to get in and out in a place may even subconsciously notice his surroundings in this manner).

As you can see, this is just based on knowing that he is an ex-military general who traveled the globe. So think...what about personal details he might have? Does he notice the books because he loves to read? Does he admire the elegance of the furniture because it reminds him of his childhood home? You can see how this goes...

Alright, let's look at our green-thumb housewife (let's call her Mary).

So, what might our cake baking Mary notice? Well, we said she's a green thumb, so she may very well notice those nice and bright plants and how well they're flourishing. And, since she's a housewife, she might be drawn to the family photos on the wall. 

Alright, let's go to our student (she can be Suzie).

Now pretty little Ms. Suzie here is a student and we said she was studying history. So what do you think she's likely to notice? Of course, the books on the shelves, because, let's face it, every history buff has trouble keeping away from a good book. So then, what else? What about that picture by the bookshelf that looks like a crafty framed kids photo (not sure if it really is or not, but that's what I see! lol). What else? She might notice something that's not even an object - the old-fashioned and stuffy atmosphere of the room.

Alright, I'm pretty sure you get my drift. Suffice to say, every choice you make with your setting and what you describe can tell the reader lot about your character. You don't need to explain why they notice what they do, it will just build up inside the reader's mind, developing your characterization to a very deep level - so deep, it'll be done using your reader's subconscious.

 Let me know what you noticed first in that room!

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