Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Breaking the Mold

Going to keep it short and sweet this Hump Day, due to some out of town visitors.

My mom and sister flew down from Kentucky on Monday and, boy, were their arms tired (rimshot!)  Like a lot of folks from out of town, they wanted to see Disney we made the hour and a half long trek up to The Magic Kingdom.

As we walked around the park, I noticed all the cast members who were walking around in character, smiling, waving, and I started thinking about how they did it. I mean, how did they handle jerky/rude visitors? I've never seen it, first hand, but I assume they continue to smile and remain friendly. Kind of like that line in the movie "Roadhouse" (yeah, I've seen it....don't judge...) where Patrick Swayze's character tells them to "be nice until it's time nice."

As I thought about that, a question popped into my mind....

How important do you think it is for your characters to stay in character? Now, by that I mean how far do you think a character can "grow" or "evolve" before they stray away from your original concept of said character? Not that I'm saying a character 'takes on a life of it's own'....though I know some see it that way, and that's o.k too...but, I'm talking about the ebb and flow of the story dictating a character start behaving in a way not in your original character concept.

Do you let your characters change, in ways you weren't really anticipating, as the story progresses?

Ever been to Disney? How did you like it?


Tyrean Martinson said...

There are a number of characters who have grown or changed in ways I didn't originally plan. Sometimes I let that process happen, and sometimes I need them to play a certain part and stick with it. So far, I think my best characters have grown a little with my writing.

And yes, I've been to Disneyland, and Disneyworld. I love living in the land of make believe for a day or two, and I have seen a few of the "cast" deal with some not so nice characters. Most of the characters have handlers, and those handlers are the ones that do the dirty work . . .but even then, they are nice. It's pretty impressive.
My family and I unfortunately witnessed a couple of guys start harassing Ariel (at Disneyland where she sits with a fin costume in a grotto), and her handlers (3 big guys), just simply moved the rude "guests" to the side and had a talk with them. I think they were threatened with being ejected from the park. My kids, 5 and 3 at the time, didn't even seem to know anything was going on because they were entranced with "meeting" Ariel.
Disney trains their employees really well.

Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

I think a character naturally changes and grows as we write. As we write the story, we start to see how events might affect our characters beyond what we initially planned.
And I've been to all the parks, including Disneyland, except the Magic Kingdom!

Julie Flanders said...

I've never been to Disneyland, maybe someday. I did have to laugh at your corny joke about the tired arms though! :D

jaybird said...

Beautiful picture Mark. My girls have never been to Disneyland and are begging us to take them. My little one especially wants to go to Beast's castle.

I like to put my characters through some stuff, and if they don't transform after that, I don't think I am doing my job as a writer. They will always hold onto some of their basic characteristics though.

Great post!!

Sherry Ellis said...

Sometimes characters grow and develop in ways I didn't originally plan. That's part of the fun of it.

I would totally crack up if I saw Cinderella get cheeky with a visitor!

Anonymous said...

I enjoyed your post, very interesting to read. I have never been to Disney Land.


S.P. Bowers said...

Yes, sometimes my characters change and exhibit traits that I didn't suspect at first. Sometimes this is because I didn't know the character well enough. Sometimes because the events of the book help the character to grow beyond what I expected. If I feel it is damaging the story I'll stop and do some serious pondering about where the story is going and where the characters should be. I want to make it organic, make sure it fits because readers can tell when you're forcing a character (even if your forcing them to stay true to your original idea)or plot.

Mark Means said...

@Tyrean: Whether that process is -allowed- to happen is also a good point to consider. Fortunately, I've never witnessed any sort of rudeness at DW, but I'm glad to hear they're trained well should it happen.

@Alex: The Magic Kingdom is my second fave next to Hollywood Studios. You need to check it out, sometime!

@Julie: Yeah, an oldie but a goodie....though, I think some would question as to just how much of a "goodie" it was :) You should try to get there, sometime, it's a very neat place!

@Jaybird: It's a great place for kids as well as grown ups and a lot of fun. I would agree....characters do need to be challenged and tried. I think it would make for a pretty boring story if otherwise. Just how much they change via this is the tricky part.

@Sherry: Heh, yeah she might break her glass slipper over someone's head :D

@Yvonne: Thank you and, should you ever get the chance, you should get to the land of the's great fun :)

@S.P: Great point on a change being 'organic' and, you're right, if it's forced, people will be able to tell....I agree!

Mel Chesley said...

I can only imagine what things happen to those people portraying Disney characters on a daily basis. Makes me shudder!
As for my characters, I need to let them grow and evolve or their character "type" will just get old and stagnant. At least, that's my opinion. I like to see growth in a character because I try to evolve and change in my personal life as well. It's important.
Never been to Disneyland. Maybe someday. :D

Nancy LaRonda Johnson said...

That is a beautiful picture you caught. But to answer your question, I love love characters that grow and change, either for the better or worse. Characters that remain the same (even Disney characters change!) are often too flat and not real. If the don't change, there should be a reason for that in the plot, or they've already lived enough of their lives where changes are pretty much moot.

Mark Means said...

@Mel: I know, I'm sure they all have 'war stories' they could tell. You're right, "cookie cutter" types get very old very fast, so I guess a bit of growth can be nothing but a positive thing.

You should definitely try to make it there, at least once :)

@Nancy: Thank you, I'll be posting all my pics tomorrow on my 'other' blog. Too true...flat characters make for a very flat story.

Julie said...

I think characters have to change to grow some. I mean, think about tv shows that you have watched for years (such as Grey's Anatomy). See how much the characters are different than from the beginning. It helps you to like a character that you didn't like at first. Or see into why they were like that. In other words, it gives them character!

Mark Means said...

You're absolutely right, Julie. Characters have to grow and evolve...just to what level is the trick :)

Suze said...

It's hard to let your characters stray from the original concept, especially if you're a character-driven writer. I don't know, Mark, I think maybe sometimes the evolution of the character hinges on the maturity of the writer. Maybe?

Mark Means said...

Suze, that's another point I hadn't thought of and, could very well be, a key step in character evolution.

I always tend to feel that my characters are "flat" and should I ever try to let them evolve, they'll come out more in disarray than as "well rounded".

Good point!

Ella said...

Oh, yes, went a few times, but the last time was about 7 yrs ago! It was so crowded-I thought I was in another country, so many different languages spoken around me! I had a great time :D

I think we have to set boundaries, let their be a few surprises, but they need to evolve for the story to work. I so want to write a book, but I can't decide which story yet...I have 7 in mind, lol.

Let them out to play Mark, you can always reel them back to reality and shape them up ;D

Happy <3 Day to you!

Mark Means said...

@Ella: Almost every time I've been, it's been pretty crowded and, yes, there is always that international flair to the people visiting.

Wow! If you have seven options, you're fairly ahead of the curve. You'll never be at a loss for something to write about :)

Thank you and hope you had a great V-Day, too!

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