*Warning: This post contains spoilers about the television show, The Lost World (which is loosely based the book of the same name). Read at your own risk if you are unfamiliar with the either the book or the television series.
There is something to be said about a well written, human character. They leap off the page and speak to us as if they were right in front us, as flesh and blood human beings, instead of fictional creations.
In this series of weekly blog posts, I will examine character using the characters from The Lost World to explore how writers can create fully dimensional, human characters that audiences and readers can relate to.
Some of us are blessed with a talent in a specific area. This often leads to acclaim, a large ego and a prideful nature. Pride always goeth before a fall.
In The Lost World, the mad scientist with the prideful nature is George Challenger (Peter McCauley). Thought to be either a genius or crazy by his colleagues, it is Challenger who gets the ball rolling on the expedition to the undiscovered Amazon like world that contains living dinosaurs, missing tribes and creatures thought only to have existed in the imagination.
While his wife, Jessie, waits at home, Challenger is exploring the globe, trying to prove that his theories hold water. The problem is that he spends more time on his work than at home. Over the course of the television series, he begins to realize that there is more to life than work. He begins to appreciate his fellow explorers and regrets that he has lost out on the time with his wife. But of course, that appreciation and regret only comes when his pride is gone and his ego begins to deflate.
To sum it up: We have faults. No one on this earth is perfect. As a writer, our job is to use those faults to create characters who not only go on a journey, but learn from the pitfalls of their mistakes. Characters who are faultless, who never encounter any challenges or make mistakes are boring and unappealing. As one of my writer friends often explains, “you have to put your character in a tree and throw rocks at them”. In life and in fiction, a person’s character is marked by not only how they deal with their faults, but how they deal with the consequences of their faults. Those faults are what brings the audience in and keeps them in until the very end.