*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.