9. Characterization vs. True Character
CHARACTERIZATION AS SURFACE: “Character design begins with an arrangement of the two primary aspects: Characterization and True Character” (375 McKee). “Characterization is the sum of all observable qualities of a human being, everything knowable through careful scrutiny: age and IQ; sex and sexuality; style of speech and gesture; choices of home, car, and dress; education and occupation; personality and nervosity; values and attitudes-all aspects of humanity we could know by taking notes on someone day in and day out. The totality of these traits makes each person unique because each of us is a one-of-a-kind combination of genetic givens and accumulated experience. This singular assemblage of traits is characterization . .. but it is not character” (100-101 McKee). “True Character waits behind this mask. Despite his characterization, at heart who is this person? Loyal or disloyal? Honest or a liar? Loving or cruel? Courageous or cowardly? Generous or selfish? Willful or weak?” (375 McKee).
True Character - Text
TRUE CHARACTER SEEN THROUGH CHOICES: “TRUE CHARACTER can only be expressed through choice in dilemma. How the person chooses to act under pressure is who he is-the greater the pressure. the truer and deeper the choice to character” (375 McKee). “Pressure is essential. Choices made when nothing is at risk mean little. If a character chooses to tell the truth in a situation where telling a lie would gain him nothing, the choice is trivial, the moment expresses nothing. But if the same character insists on telling the truth when a lie would save his life, then we sense that honesty is at the core of his nature” (101 McKee). Again, “TRUE CHARACTER is revealed in the choices a human being makes under pressure-the greater the pressure, the deeper the revelation, the truer the choice to the character's essential nature” (101 McKee).
The most memorable and fascinating characters often have ______ desires.
Dimensions fascinate; contradictions in nature or behavior rivet the audience's concentration. Therefore, the protagonist must be the most dimensional character in the cast to focus empathy on the star role. If not, the Center of Good decenters; the fictional universe flies apart; the audience loses balance T
Multidimensional characters are marked by a single dominant trait. F
Multidimensional Characters are often written with the following in mind:
Characterization is the sum of all observable qualities of a human being: age, IQ, sex, sexuality, style, home, car, dress, education, occupation, personality, etc. T
Characterization is character F
True character is behind the mask T
True character can only be expressed through willful choices in response to dilemma(s) T