Category Archives: Character Review

Character Review: Catherine Earnshaw

*Warning: This post contains spoilers about Emily Bronte’s classic novel, Wuthering Heights. Read at your own risk if you are unfamiliar with the either book or the various adaptations.

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 Wuthering Heights to explore how writers can create fully dimensional, human characters that audiences and readers can relate to.

The best love stories always have an obstacle to the potential happiness of the couple. The best stories sometimes have a character who is standing in the way of their own happiness. This, in a nutshell is Catherine Earnshaw, the heroine of Emily Bronte’s Wuthering Heights.

Catherine is the daughter of the local gentry. We first meet Catherine when her father brings home Heathcliff, her adopted brother/soulmate. Catherine and Heathcliff grow up together, joined at the hip until they reach early adulthood. Then reality sets in. Mr. Earnshaw dies and Catherine’s older brother, Hindley becomes master of Wuthering Heights. Hindley was never fond of Heathcliff when they were boys. Without anyone to stand in his way, Hindley openly and maliciously abuses Heathcliff.

While this is happening, the audience and Catherine are introduced to the brother and sister duo of Edgar and Isabella Linton. While it is obvious that there is a strong connection between Catherine and Heathcliff, there is also the pressure of the world of Victorian era England. It would be a disgrace for Catherine to marry Heathcliff, despite their deep love. Heathcliff has no money, no social standing and his origins are unknown. In short, it would cause quite the scandal if the lovers were to marry.

“I cannot express it; but surely you and everybody have a notion that there is or should be an existence of yours beyond you. What were the use of my creation, if I were entirely contained here? My great miseries in this world have been Heathcliff’s miseries, and I watched and felt each from the beginning: my great thought in living is himself. If all else perished, and he remained, I should still continue to be; and if all else remained, and he were annihilated, the universe would turn to a mighty stranger: I should not seem a part of it. My love for Linton is like the foliage in the woods: time will change it, I’m well aware, as winter changes the trees. My love for Heathcliff resembles the eternal rocks beneath: a source of little visible delight, but necessary. Nelly, I am Heathcliff! He’s always, always in my mind: not as a pleasure, any more than I am always a pleasure to myself, but as my own being.”

After Catherine marries Edgar and Heathcliff disappears, she appears for a time, to have put aside the wild child sensibility and become a proper lady. But when Heathcliff returns as a wealthy man and starts to not court Isabella, Catherine becomes jealous. Pitting her husband and her soulmate against one another, she becomes ill and dies just moments after her daughter in born.

To sum it up: There are always obstacles, whether on the page or in life. We have two choices, we can find a way to overcome the obstacles or we can take the easy way out.  Catherine unfortunately, takes the easy way out and pays for her choices. As writers, we don’t always have to lead our characters down the right path. Sometimes, we lead our characters go down the wrong path and let them pay for their choices.

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Filed under Books, Character Review, Emily Bronte, Writing, Wuthering Heights

Character Review: Finn

*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.

Sometimes a new character is introduced in the middle of a story. They may not have been intrinsic to the narrative initially, but they become as important as the characters who were introduced in the beginning of the story.

Finn (Lara Cox) was introduced to the audience about halfway through the third season. When the Challenger Expedition travels (minus Malone, Veronica and Summerlee) through time, they land in on the plateau that they don’t recognize. Finn is living on a post-apocalyptic plateau where she is one of the few survivors. Smart, sarcastic, a little blunt and independent, Finn is a 21st century woman who returns to the 19th century plateau with the Challenger Expedition. Unfortunately, The Lost World was cancelled at the end of the 3rd season, leaving Finn as a character whose development and narrative was stopped before she could grow beyond the audience’s initial impression.

To sum it up: A character’s development and narrative is not strictly based upon when we meet them. Even if a character is introduced to the audience halfway through the story, the writer can still fully develop them to catch the audience’s attention and draw them in.

 

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Character Review: Arthur Summerlee

*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.

In every life and every story, there are two perspectives: youth and old age. In The Lost World, the perspective on old age is represented Arthur Summerlee (Michael Sinelnikoff). Summerlee is not only the ying to Challenger’s yang, but he is also the peacemaker and the unofficial father figure to the younger members of the expedition. It was Summerlee who egged Challenger on during the pilot about his findings and it was Challenger, who in turn challenged (for lack of a better term) Summerlee to join him on the expedition.

Where Challenger is hotheaded, brash and sometimes full of it, Summerlee is calm, cool and collected (at least most of the time).  Summerlee is also the first member of the expedition to see past the hard shell of Marguerite to see a woman who is complicated and has had to make difficult decisions to survive. When he was killed off (or appeared to be killed off), an emotional void was left among the characters that could never truly be filled.

Despite all of that, Summerlee had his faults. He too, was prone to having a big head. His greatest regret was walking away from his wife as she lay dying, without so much as a goodbye.

To sum it up: The perspective that one can see from having lived a great many years is sometimes hard to see, but it is a perspective that deserves to be explored. We live in a culture that celebrates the young and the youthful. But we sometimes forget that those of a certain age deserve our respect and attention, especially in fiction. Summerlee represents both the wisdom and regret that comes with reaching the stage in our lives when we are no longer young. When we as writers speak of creating well-rounded characters, we should be speaking of older characters whose contributions, wisdom and advise should be paid attention to.  We never know when this character will teach both the reader and the writer a thing or two.

 

 

 

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Character Review: Veronica Layton

*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.

The perspective of youth is often one of hope, light and opportunity. Sometimes that perspective fades as we get older.

Veronica Layton (Jennifer O’Dell) was the youngest member of the Challenger Expedition for most of the three years that the show was on the air.  Veronica is Arthur Conan Doyle’s answer to Tarzan. Her parents, who disappeared when Veronica was a young girl, were part of an earlier expedition. Growing up in the jungle, she learned independence and survival skills early on. But that does not mean that she has lost the innocence and light of youth.

Veronica grows from a young girl to a woman over the course of the three seasons. She has a sort of will they or won’t they relationship with Ned Malone (David Orth), falls briefly in love with a mad musician from the 19th century and begins to understand that life is sometimes hard. But her main goal is to find her parents.  In one of the last episodes of the third series, Veronica and the audience learn of her parent’s fate. Her father is dead and her mother descends from a long line of women who have ruled over the plateau for centuries. Veronica has been kept unaware of her lineage for her own safety.

To sum it up: Growing up is hard. Realizing that the life is not all sunshine and roses can be a difficult pill to swallow. Veronica is example of a great character because on one hand, she is independent and has no problem taking care of herself. But on other hand, she is still young and will be learning (sometimes the hard way) that life is complicated.  When a writer is creating a young character who over the course of the narrative grows up, the key is to make the journey of growing up universal. We all have to grow up at some point. Illustrating that journey properly through the narrative means speaking to the reader, regardless of the time and place that they are living. If the reader feels like the character is not speaking to them, then it is highly unlikely they will want to see the character through to the end of their journey.

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Character Review: Ned Malone

*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.

It’s easy to take someone we have just met or randomly bump into on the street at face value. But looks, more often than not are deceiving.

Ned Malone (David Orth) is initially introduced in The Lost World as the lone American and wet behind the ears reporter who more often than not, needs saving. Far from adventurous, Ned’s motivation to join the Challenger Expedition seems rather mundane: he wants to impress a pretty girl. Ned is secretly in love with his publisher’s daughter, but she has kept him parked in the friend zone for years. To prove his mettle, Ned joins the expedition to not only write about what they will be experiencing, but also in hopes that his crush will notice him and return his affection.

Over the course of the three seasons, Ned become more mature, more confident and more self-sufficient. Part of that due to the friendship turned semi romantic relationship with Veronica Layton (Jennifer O’Dell), a young woman raised in the jungle who is the exact opposite of the woman he was in love with when he left London.

While Ned may appear to be innocent and naive, his past was revealed about a third of the way into the 3rd season. He was unexpectedly drawn into the trenches during World War I and suffered emotional scars that lay deep and open beneath the surface.

To sum it up: No one is just one thing. We all have our light sides, our dark sides, the face we present to the world and the scars that are hidden beneath the surface. One of the primary jobs of a writer is to create fleshed out, 3D characters who are multifaceted and human. Human beings naturally relate to other human beings, whether they be real or fiction. If a character is human and feels human to the audience or reader, the writer has succeeded. If the character feels fake and uncomplicated, the writer still has work to do.

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Filed under Books, Character Review, History, Television, The Lost World, Writing

Character Review: Marguerite Krux

*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.

It’s not uncommon in adventure series to see a lopsided ratio of male characters to female characters. Female characters are either the damsel in distress, the native girl or the background character who is not seen or heard.

While Marguerite Krux (Rachel Blakely) may not be a cannon character in the original Lost World novel, she is certainly a modern and complex addition to the character list.

The audience is first introduced to Marguerite in the pilot. She is walking to the Zoological Society meeting where Challenger (Peter McCauley) is presenting his findings to his colleagues. Finding that she is being followed, she shoots the man and goes on her merry way.

Marguerite Krux is initially a mystery to the audience and her fellow explorers. Her past is a well guarded secret. While she appears to be selfish and self-serving, Marguerite is hiding the one thing that no one expects her to have: her heart.

Orphaned at an early age, her parents are a mystery to her. Shrewd, intelligent and independent, Marguerite has learned early on to survive by her wits. The things she wants most in this world are family and love. They were also the things she did not have when she needed them most.

Her ultimate goal is to find her birth certificate. Finding her birth certificate means finding out not only who here parents are or were, but finding the identity she has been longing for. Like many who have learned to survive early on, Marguerite has learned how to hide her emotions and do what needs to be done.

The Lost World was cancelled just after the third season ended, leaving quite a few story lines open. While Marguerite may not have found her parents (as of the final episode of the third series), she found the family she was looking with her fellow explorers and love with John Roxton (Will Snow).

To sum it up: Not all characters have easy lives. Sometimes, all a character knows is survival. Do whatever you need to do to get by, even if that means doing something shady or dangerous. Marguerite Krux is one of those characters. But in the hands of a skilled writer, a character of this nature goes beyond the stereotype. Whatever they are looking for, that is the key to their growth over the course of the narrative. Survival for survival’s sake is fine early on in the story, but without eventually learning the character’s motives and needs, the audience or the reader is unable to latch on the character and follow them across the narrative.

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Character Review: George Challenger

*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.

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Character Review-John Roxton

*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.

The ladies man. The macho man. The hunter who always bags his kill. This is Lord John Roxton.

Lord John Roxton is very much the epitome of the hunter, both in the jungle and in the ballroom. The younger son of an aristocrat who inherited his title when he accidentally killed his brother on a game hunt in Africa, John appears to have it all. A title. A tidy inherited income. Women at his feet and in his bed. A reputation of a fierce hunter.

Played by Australian actor Will Snow, the audience appears to immediately know who this man is and what his journey will be over the course of the narrative.  The audience will soon be surprised. Under the smooth manners of an aristocrat and the adventurous nature of a man who has seen much in his life, John Roxton who is burdened by his past. The ghost of his brother hangs around his neck like a chain. His will they or wont they relationship with the mysterious and equally emotionally burdened Marguerite Krux (played expertly by another Australian performer, Rachel Blakely, who will be discussed in the coming weeks) adds more emotional depth to the character and leads him away from the Gaston like initial first impression.

To sum it up: Appearances should be deceiving. How deceiving they should be and what emotional turns the character takes is up to the individual writer. That deception on the part of the writer, if it is well written is very often the key to the success of the book or the movie. As soon as the audience thinks they know the character, the deception changes their perspective and properly hooks them in for the rest of the story.  That deception, when written properly is often the key to writing success.

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Pride and Prejudice Character Review: Georgiana Darcy

*Warning: This post contains spoilers about Pride and Prejudice. Read at your own risk if you are unfamiliar with the book.

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 Pride and Prejudice to explore how writers can create fully dimensional, human characters that audiences and readers can relate to.

If we are lucky during our childhood, we have parents and other relations who love us and want to shield us from the dark and sometimes murky reality of the outside world. But we all have to grow up eventually and face that dark and murky reality.

In Pride and Prejudice, the harsh facts of the adult world and how heartbreaking it can be are represented in Georgiana Darcy. Georgiana is Mr. Darcy’s younger sister by little more than decade. In the care of her brother and her cousin, Colonel Fitzwilliam, since her father’s passing, Georgiana is growing up sheltered from the world. Over-protected not only because she is 15, but also because of the large inheritance that will be hers one day,  Georgiana knows little of the real world.

Then George Wickham comes back into her life. Her brother’s childhood friend (the snake that he is), pretends to have fallen in love with her and almost convinces her to elope. But they are discovered before the wedding vows are spoken and Mr. Wickham’s true motives are revealed. In the words of a certain rapper who will not be named because I have a particular disregard for him “he ain’t nothing but a gold digger”.

Georgiana’s broken heart must be soothed by her brother. While she is still young yet and has (hopefully) plenty of time to find a husband who will love and respect her, this first heartbreak has left a mark on her psyche that will always be a part of her.

To sum it up: growing up is hard. There are grey areas in life and people who are not what they seem to be. The character of Georgiana represents an innocence and a stage in life when we are beginning to grow beyond the comfortable confines of childhood. Georgiana’s story is one that in our way, we can relate to. A good writer creates not only recognizable characters, but recognizable narratives.  If the writer is able to create that recognizable narrative, it is one more hook that sinks itself into the audience’s conscious and keeps hold until the story is done. Like a recognizable character, a story without a recognizable narrative, the audience or reader is likely to not care and move on. If the audience or reader does not care, then the writer has not done their job.

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Pride And Prejudice Character Review: Caroline Bingley

*Warning: This post contains spoilers about Pride and Prejudice. Read at your own risk if you are unfamiliar with the book.

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 Pride and Prejudice to explore how writers can create fully dimensional, human characters that audiences and readers can relate to.

For most of human history, women have been told, both consciously and unconsciously that being single is unacceptable. A woman needs a husband. This has created in some women, especially those seeking a wealthy husband, a less than likable reputation.

In Pride and Prejudice, Caroline Bingley is one of these women. The older sister of Charles Bingley, Caroline knows that she must marry, like all women of the era. She has her sights set on one man: her brother’s best friend, Mr. Darcy.  But while Elizabeth Bennet, Caroline’s unknowing rival for Mr. Darcy is charming, intelligent, likable and witty, Caroline is the opposite. She is a two-faced snob who pretends that her family wealth does not come from trade. She is constantly flirting and throwing herself at Mr. Darcy, despite the obvious signs that he is not interested in her whatsoever. She also pretends to be friends with Jane Bennet, but then convinces her brother (with the help of Mr. Darcy) to walk away from Jane.

If Pride and Prejudice were set in a modern day high school, Caroline would be the perfect mean girl.

To sum it up:  Caroline is the character we love to hate. We cheer when Darcy and Elizabeth marry, knowing that Caroline has not won, she will not be Mrs. Darcy of Pemberley. Ironically, sometimes the favorite or the most memorable character is not the hero or heroine that we love, but the villain or the pseudo villain that we love to hate. It’s fun to watch them try to win, knowing that in the end, they won’t. A writer’s job is to create compelling and memorable characters. If being compelling and memorable means that the we love to hate to the character, then so be it.

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Filed under Books, Character Review, Feminism, Jane Austen, Pride and Prejudice, Writing