Monday, November 16, 2009

A Visual Look at Characterization (aka Alphas and Betas – Atlantis Style)

Understanding your characters is important in writing. To read a good breakdown of how to build a character go to Maisey Yates' post here.

But did you know, your character can evolve from one archetype to another during the story? For example, an alpha can become beta and vice versa.

I am, hands down, a visual person. I can’t write a scene unless I can visualize it. So, I am going to give you a visual example. (And I can hear the groaning now from my critique partners.)

The John Sheppard (Joe Flanigan) you will see in the below video is Beta Sheppard. The cocky, laid-back guy who lets everything roll off his shoulders. Teyla Emmagan (Rachel Luttrell) is part of his SG team.

Note: I pulled these scenes from YouTube, but Stargate:Atlantis is owned by MGM studios.

Next scene (but from a different episode): After being injected with a retrovirus, Sheppard has started to transform.

Okay, did you get the Alpha-ness of Sheppard? More confident. Commanding. Ever so-slightly forceful, but not brutish. Kinda like a Presents hero.

By the end of the episode, Sheppard transforms back to his Beta self. If you want to see this, go here and scroll to 7:28 into the scene.

Now with short contemporaries, the transformation may not always happen. The hero generally transforms at the end of the story, but he usually stays Alpha or Beta the rest of the time.

Okay, what is the point of this whole post? Even though your character may be classified as Alpha or Beta, they may not always act that way in certain situations. It is the situation (and some of their past) that determines their reaction. So, don't kill yourself trying to keep your character the same way all the time.

Anyone want to gander at a literary example? I might be able to dig one up on a future post.

And, last, but not least, this post is dedicated to my high school English teacher who always downgraded me for putting my thesis statement at the end of the paper. :-P


1 comment:

  1. Thanks for the shout out, Barbara! Your high school teacher may not thank you...

    Very good point. A character may react a different way in depending on the situation. And they always beta a bit at the end. They aren't neutered by any stretch, but they're...tamed a little.