“Remember that you are dust and to dust you shall return.”
Somehow, those words sound strangely beautiful to me. They always have, but I haven’t quite been able to put words to why until lately.
Maybe part of the reason why can be found in two shows that I’ve watched recently.
In the season finale of the first season of Agents of Shield, Fitz and Simmons are locked in an airtight steel box at the bottom of the ocean with (almost) no way out, and they talk about dying, as one does in a steel box at the bottom of the ocean. “It’s not so bad,” Jemma says, “that the rough matter in us will one day be part of a star.” (Or something to that effect.
In “The Rings of Akhaten,” the Doctor has taken Clara on an adventure far beyond her place in time or space. They go to a distant planet, where they meet a little girl whose one duty is to sing a song. Time has run out since the Sun-Singers started, however, and the little girl is terrified, so the Doctor tells her a story: that she is the only one like her, that every element in her body was forged in the heart of a supernova, and that nowhere else in all of time and space is to be found that singular identity that forms her.
During our new pastor’s Ash Wednesday homily, he quoted a lesser-known corollary of these same words: “Remember, dust, that you are man,” referring to the Resurrection.
It is such a curious and glorious fate that God can create things that are more than the sum of their matter.
In honor of the first day of winter, I bring you this small offering. Enjoy!
“What are we investigating again, Miss?” Benton asked, stumbling awkwardly on his snowshoes.
“Nothing much, Sergeant,” Jo replied, trying to steady him. “Frankly, I think the Brigadier just wanted us out of headquarters.”
“We can be a bit of a rowdy lot,” Benton admitted, laughing wryly.
“Except the Doctor, of course,” Jo said. “He takes everything too seriously!”
“We’re opposite ends of the spectrum,” Benton agreed thoughtfully. Jo shoved him playfully.
“There, all the science is rubbing off on you!”
“No, it’s just something I heard the Doctor say,” Benton said placidly. Jo giggled.
“Wait a minute, Sergeant—I’ve got an idea!”
“Are you two going to dawdle all day?” the Doctor called from up ahead. Jo squished snow in between her gloves.
“Not really, Doctor!”
The snowball smacked the Doctor squarely in the back of the head. He whirled around, brushing snow out of his hair and looking a little bit annoyed. “Really, Jo!”
Benton’s snowball hit the Doctor in the face. The Doctor spluttered, spitting out dog- and leather-flavored snow. Jo broke into a fit of laughter. The Doctor drew himself up.
“I can see I have no choice,” he said, and hefted a large chunk of snow from the side of the road at them. Jo and Benton dived in different directions and the game was on. They slid and scrambled around in the snow, ducking out of cover to fire off volleys at each other.
There was a brief ceasefire as a UNIT truck pulled up on the road. “You three were supposed to report in a half hour ago!” exclaimed Captain Yates. Four well-aimed snowballs knocked him flat on his backside, the Doctor making good use of both his hands ambidextrously.
Howling bloody murder, Yates dived into the fray.
Another fifteen minutes later, the Brigadier drove up on a motorcycle. Alstair Gordon Lethbridge-Stewart had seen quite a few strange things in his time, but never anything quite so strange as UNIT’s scientific adviser holding a sergeant in a headlock, with his assistant clinging to his back shoving snow down the back of his neck, and a captain yelling like a banshee and pelting all three of them with snowballs.
Years later, Lethbridge-Stewart would remember the look on the Doctor’s face as the one and only guilty expression he had ever surprised out of the Time Lord.
This November, ill-advised or not, I am participating in NaNoWriMo. Since I am currently waiting for my next class (6:30 to 9:10 pm, I am gonna die if I don’t get out early), I thought I might as well take the time to introduce you to my project and the two main characters.
The Gentlemen Adventurers’ Society is a historical fantasy (pssst, it’s steampunk) novel set in the later years of the Victorian era and follows the adventures of Maeghan LeClere and James Pennon as they try to avert the annexation of a small German princedom by the growing empire of Kaiser Wilhelm I (I haven’t technically fact-checked it yet, fact-checking can wait until the end of NaNo!), an event which might catapult the world with its growing system of alliances into a vicious war (as in, World War I, if it started early.)
Maeghan is a young American woman, orphaned and out to make her way in the world, even if it’s an ultimately unremarkable one. She’s very good at organization, but balks at the idea of being put in charge of things. (I think we already know how we’re going to force some character development, guys.) She’s never done anything notable in her life, but that’s about to change.
James is English nobility–a youngest son, insignificant by birth, practically penniless, and yet too determined a personality to fade into mediocrity or to take a minor government position. Intelligent (perhaps too intelligent for his own good) and with a startling streak of fire in his character, he’s never failed to get anything he’s ever fought for, but he doesn’t quite live in the real world; he’s been sheltered his entire life. He’s never been burned before, and while he knows on a cognitive level that he could get hurt, he hasn’t quite realized it on an emotional one. He’s also a bit oblivious to when people are hitting on him, and it’s a rather unpleasant shock for him to be reminded that some people consider him a marriage prospect. His worst fear–the secret fear that he himself isn’t even really aware of–is failure.
James is a member of the mysterious, prestigious organization known as “The Gentlemen Adventurers’ Society,” a group for upper-class people (men and with some restrictions, women) who don’t settle down easily. Occasionally, they will provide some services–guides, detectives, scientists, students and so forth–on the condition that whatever payment is made is made to the Society, in the place of dues (and the surplus goes to make up pensions for some members who, like James, are sophisticated enough to belong but who don’t have livings of their own.)
Maeghan is travelling to Europe, by coincidence aboard the same airship as James. Working together, they manage to save the airship, and James invites Maeghan to join the Society as his protege. (Don’t look at me like that. Read it and weep, romance fans–there’s not really going to be any in this book.)
However, that’s really only the beginning for the two of them.
Hopefully you all enjoy my recaps of their misadventures throughout the month.
(Rosalie, did I mention that James is redecorating the mind palace for Christmas? Already? And the Doctor is aiding and abetting. Those two are terrible. It was a bad idea to have the Doctor and Charley stand in for James and Maeghan, since they get up to twice as much trouble after discovering their sympathies.)
I was surprised, this morning, to see a mountain of pillows go walking past my study door. I ran to the door and peered out after the strange apparition.
It was not, in fact, a walking pillow mountain, but the Eighth Doctor, his arms full of pillows. The pile was higher than his head. “Doctor! What are you doing?” He turned around, losing control of the pillow pile, and stared at me, startled, knee deep in pillows.
Call this a tribute to all my favorite characters–I was thinking back on all my favorites and I noticed that my very favorite characters all tried and failed at some point, but kept on trying. Their victories were by no means constant, and their successes were not always total.
So here is my tribute to Horatio Hornblower, Obi-Wan Kenobi, Martin the Warrior, the Doctor (though this sounds much more like Eight than like Eleven), Frodo Baggins, Samwise Gamgee, Charles Wallace Murray, Meg Murray, Sydney Cotton, and all my other favorite characters.
They all pity me. I can tell.
I’ve got all the scars and bruises and broken bones I earned by my trouble, I skirt the edge of madness, and sometimes I seem to be invisible.
Sometimes, they ask me why I’m like this.
“It couldn’t be helped,” I say.
After all, if I told them the full truth, they wouldn’t stop to listen.
Sometimes, when you reach out to touch the stars, you fall and fall hard. Not all your leaps of faith will be successes.
Of course, since they pity me, they’d never see the truth. The truth is this: I tried. I did my best and sometimes it just wasn’t enough. Reduced to this shell of a man as I am in their eyes, they would only see the futility of the struggle. Never its nobility.
The very core of the truth, condensed and concentrated, is that I do not regret one moment.
I do not grudge one bruise, one scar; not the shattered bones or the bleeding knuckles or broken skin. If I had my live to live all over, I’d do it all again. I’d risk it all. I’d step out without knowing if I had a safety net. I’d run farther and fight harder without knowing if I’d win or not. I would seize every chance, take every risk in hope.
I have lived more fully than any of them. The path of least resistance is not one that is by any means enviable. It’s safe, certainly—but it is not satisfying. Not to me, in any case.
I would not give up one second of this. I do not regret one moment of this.
In honor of Father’s day: The Doctor goes to keep an old tryst. (Note: Cross-posted to Fanfiction and my Tumblr blog.) The author is not responsible for any excess of feels.
The Doctor appeared on Susan’s doorstep five hours and forty years late, though when she invited him inside she expected it had been longer for him. He took off his hat, awkwardly, looking as if he wanted to roll the brim between his long, slender fingers. “You look lovely, Susan,” he said, stumbling awkwardly over the words. Susan half-smiled.
“Good to see you too, Grandfather.”
His tie was askew and his hair was wild, as if he’d taken a dive through the vortex before getting dressed and hadn’t found the time to tame it again. Carefully, Susan replaced the long, soft curls into something resembling order and took his hand. “Shall we?”
The TARDIS was different from how it had been; instead of gleaming white, the walls honeycombed with roundels, there was an ancient cathedral-like room, lined with books and candles and clocks. “You’ve redecorated,” Susan murmured, brushing her hand along the edge of the wood and brass console. The TARDIS chimed a faint greeting. The Doctor ducked his head, shyly.
“Yes,” he said quietly. “It seemed like time for a change.” He stood there, leaning against the door frame, a slight figure all but lost in the gloom, the shadows at the edges of the enormous space. Susan felt an ache in her chest that could not be explained by her recent cold. The Doctor walked briskly across the open space and leaned the elegant cane against the console, throwing levers and pressing knobs.
They materialized in a broom closet and joined the party as inconspicuously as they could. “We’re overdressed,” Susan said in an undertone. A half-smile pulled at the corners of the Doctor’s mouth.
“Just a little.” He held out a hand. “Would you care to dance, Mrs. Campbell?” She didn’t say anything–she just gave him a little, sad half-smile.
They had one misstep–the Doctor tripped over a floorboard during a complicated step and almost dropped her, but caught her at the last moment. “Sorry,” he whispered. “Out of practice.”
At one point, when the Doctor momentarily left her to get some punch for both of them, one of the older gentlemen attending came across to speak to Susan. “Pleasant-spoken young man,” he said. “Is he your father?”
“My grandfather, actually,” Susan corrected him. The older man paled.
When it was time to go home, the Doctor landed at the end of the street and walked Susan to her front door. She paused in the doorway.
“Thank you for tonight,” she said, quietly. The Doctor ducked his head abashedly.
“I tend to forget a lot of things in this life,” he said, softly. “I thought it was time to… give you some closure. I’m not getting any younger.” Susan smiled sadly.
“Come here.” His coat smelled faintly of old books, lavender and honey. She pressed her face gratefully against it.
Recently, WriteFury and I were talking about Type Four in the Character Profiles series which she is currently working on. Basically, Type Four is the fun guys who are always smiling, really fun to be around.
But, while we were talking, I identified a Type Five.
And since she wasn’t familiar with most of the characters I classed as part of the type, she asked me to write this post. So here goes!
These characters are defined mainly by their sheer complexity. They appear to share traits with both Type One and Type Two, and are almost always extremely intelligent.
They tend to also be perceived as quirky or eccentric, and can be much more emotional than Type Ones, or borderline-sociopathic. Their senses of humor vary between sarcastic, wry, witty, or they may not have an apparent sense of humor. Another trait that they share with Type Ones is situational humor–they may make a wry quip about the mess they’re in.
This may be due to the fact that they’ve had bad things happen to them in the past, and it’s their coping mechanism.
They may be quiet or talk a lot, but you will never get more information out of them than they intend to give you.
They’re very clever, and often pretend to be stupid or use their eccentricity to hide just how dangerous they truly are from their enemies, and sometimes their friends. They’re many-layered, using different “facets” of their personalities as a smoke screen, and often extremely private.
And last but not least, they tend to be extremely dedicated to one or more of the other characters, to the point that they would die for them–but not on the other character’s terms or on their enemies’ terms. Only on their own terms. They will risk everything they hold dear for that one special person. They are also the most likely to do things for the good of other characters without their consent or even knowledge, which makes them more than a little frightening.
This type, along with Type One, is the most likely to punish themselves over things that may or may not have been their fault, in ways that are subtle and not easy for others to notice, whereas Type Two may do dramatic or drastic things (such as attempting suicide, in extreme cases) and Type Four falls into a deep depression.
These are also the hardest characters (along with Type One) to kill. They simply can’t give up, and refuse to die. (Sometimes literally. *gives the Doctor a meaningful look*)
Type Five characters have a strong moral code, often in lieu of following their emotions, because they (sometimes) fear that emotions will lead them in the wrong direction. They tend to be logical, but will sometimes choose non-logical options, especially as they tend to be extremely loyal to their friends–and sometimes not merely their friends, but to their cause.
When a Type Five is a villain, they may still have this strong moral code, but in a corrupted form (I present Count Dooku for your inspection.)
Also, sometimes the line between a Type One and a Type Five may be so blurred that it’s difficult to tell where they should be classed–but if there’s any doubt, your character is probably complex enough to be a Type Five. (Case in point: Horatio Hornblower, who shares most of the traits on the list, only he doesn’t use different layers of his personality to maintain his privacy in quite the same way as most Type Fives.)
Here’s the list of common traits:
Strong-willed or stubborn
Does not trust him/herself to do the right thing much of the time
Planning ahead and/or last minute planning/split-second decisions
Dubious or dangerous history (VERY common!)
Extreme empathy bouncing to near-sociopathy (or one or the other)
Sarcasm/finds things that no one else gets ironic or funny
Self-hate (to an extent)/possible masochism (what? It’s true.)
Uses appearances to make others underestimate them
May make subtle into an art form (see above)
Can be unscrupulous or ruthless
Rigid moral code (especially the ones who don’t trust “feelings”)
Now for some examples!
Baker Street’s resident not-a-psychopath,-Anderson, Sherlock Holmes is most definitely a Type Five, wherever he is portrayed. Brilliant and often unfeeling, and holding a soft spot for Watson, Lestrade, Molly Hooper (in the BBC series) and Mrs. Hudson, Sherlock is among the most complex of literary characters. A rare hero, in that he doesn’t hesitate to pull a gun on the bad guys, Sherlock may be “on the side of the angels,” but if you mistake him for one of them, that will be the last mistake you ever make. Sherlock holds himself unflinchingly to his own code, knowing that if he ever steps over the line, that will make him no different from his worst enemies, and he is willing to sacrifice himself for both John (The Reichenbach Fall) and Mary (His Last Vow)–in one case, a physical death (though, again with the planning ahead, that didn’t actually happen) and in the other the death of his good name.
Rigid moral code? Absolutely. Obi-Wan’s code is probably the one thing that defines him most as a character. Take the loyalty and boost it by five hundred percent. Situational humor? Definitely.
While Obi-Wan is less extreme than most of the others on the list, he is absolutely entirely in the details. Subtlety is his other defining trait; sometimes he’s even so subtle that it meshes right into the other related item, using his appearance to fool others into underestimating him.
Obi-Wan is not above using Anakin’s attachment to him to manipulate Anakin for the sake of the greater good (Deception et al.) It would be safe to say that he’d do the same for and to Anakin for Anakin’s sake.
Obi-Wan’s least-Type-Five/most-Type-One characteristic is his extreme selflessness, but again, he’s certainly complex enough to warrant a spot on this list. Extremely empathetic and deeply passionate, Obi-Wan still does not trust his own emotions to guide him, relying on logic and intuition instead. He holds himself to a much higher standard than he does others and is somewhat disillusioned, but his honesty and kindness are strongly endearing. (The reason there are Obi-Wan haters in the world, in my opinion, is because Obi-Wan is so subtle at times that he even fools his fans!)
Another BBC favorite!
Merlin, also known as Emrys (which is, in case you were wondering, the Welsh equivalent of “Ambrose” and means “immortal”), is the protagonist of the BBC show of the same name (rather than having Arthur take the reins, as usual.) Merlin is, like many BBC characters, a very complex character, and might almost have been classed as Type Two or Type Three, except for his darker side. He is friendly, charming, a bit of a dork, and just generally the type of guy you want to have backing you up, but on the flip side he has an inner darkness that, fed by his magic tutor, the dragon Kilgarrah, SPOILERS eventually indirectly leads to the fall of Camelot. END SPOILERS However, under the guidance of mentor Gaius, he builds strong, lasting friendships with Arthur, Gwen, the knights, and fellow servants.
Merlin is brilliant with magic, but he doesn’t act like it. He’s sometimes clumsy but at other times he can be graceful. It’s mainly his ability to fool everyone (including Arthur–again, for Arthur’s own good and at the cost of wanting to tell him desperately about his secret) around him into underestimating him that has him here on this list.
Shut up, you’re adorable.
That is the Tenth Doctor, just to avoid confusion among non-Whovians. 😛
Anyway, the Doctor is the very definition of complex. With thirteen different incarnations, all played by different actors and each with different personalities, he sort of has to be. While all the different personalities tend to revolve around a theme and all involve some version of a few basic traits, each version of the Doctor is still entirely unique. And he tends to use his apparent clumsiness (recurring theme here) into fooling people that he’s stupid or doesn’t know what he’s doing. He’s got some pretty toxic guilt over something that I gather is still a spoiler (?!), and definitely does not trust himself.
While he is in an age group comparable to Yoda, it just feels as if he’s been much farther than Yoda has ever traveled and seen more messed-up stuff. While Yoda does the funny-old-guy routine, the Doctor takes a route that is a bit more logical, in my mind; that long lifespan has only gone to make him much more complex, and he’s probably the most experienced person in any field that you’re ever going to find.
He also tends to find jokes in things no one else gets, is brilliant to the extent that it’s possible that he’s the most intelligent of any person on this list, is on par with Steve Rogers at thinking on his feet, has phenomenal situational awareness (um, that has nothing to do with the list, more to do with him being good at split-second tactics), and is both extremely compassionate and utterly unfeeling at times.
And I can’t even begin to list how many times he’s done things for his companions that they would never have allowed him to do, if they knew what he was planning.
Gandalf the Gray, Frodo Baggins, Aragorn, Faramir
Boromir is a Type Two and Merry and Pippin are Type Four. What about the others?
Well, Sam Gamgee might be a type one, but Frodo is a Type Five. Almost everyone underestimates him, and rather than a hidden darkness, he has a hidden majesty–as does Aragorn. Faramir is conflicted (though not in quite the same way as he is in the movies). And Gandalf… well, when you’ve been around for about three thousand years, you’d expect a character to be a bit complex!
Now for my own characters!
Winter and Tairya
Winter has a personality somewhat similar to Merlin’s or the Doctor’s, except without the clumsiness, he is a bit more grim, and people underestimate him more because they don’t know him. However, he also has a sense of humor, is very loyal, especially to his mentor and friends among the Rangers, and has a kinder side that is rarely seen, except by his apprentice Elian. He is the bodyguard of the Princess and sworn to protect her.
Tairya, the woman Winter is sworn to guard, is probably the only villain on this list. Less blatant than most villains and completely without remorse, mercy, or compassion, Tairya is a Type Four gone horribly wrong. She is the archetype of everything any Type Four could slip into becoming. However, she does have a slightly lighter side; a soft spot for her husband and child–but this turns her even more sour when Winter, in an attempt to fulfill his oath in some way despite his failure to save her, kidnaps (or rescues) her son.
Winter and Tairya both appear in my unfinished novelLoyalties and are among my most complex characters ever.
More in the vein of Master Kenobi than any other character on this list, Connor’s personality is somewhat similar to that of a type two. He’s mild, clever, funny, and a good friend. However, under his mild, kind exterior, hidden so deep that even Connor himself is not aware of it, he has a secret:
Connor is a trained assassin, part of a failed conditioning experiment by a ruthless businessman, and his perceived colorblindness is psychosomatic–in rebelling against the conditioning, he effectively “made himself” colorblind. While he appears to fold to any situation, when he takes a stand it’s quite clear that he’s got some steel in his backbone, probably inherited from ancestors who fought in the American War for Independence. Connor stars in my unfinished novel Colorblind.
Wait… mild-mannered reporter living in a superhero world… Never mind. Connor’s only real “superpower” is the ability to see in the ultraviolet spectrum… which is pretty useless in a fight.
Nothing to see here, DC Comics.
If there’s another character who I missed who you think should be on this list, please tell me about them! I’d love to meet them. 🙂
This month’s prompt is to tell about my favorite place to write.
Well, now that I’ve got everything in order, probably my bedroom. 😉
I just moved from one of the intended bedrooms to an improvised room in the basement. One wall is made entirely out of carefully-arranged bookshelves, and the doorway is a tension rod with a curtain. My clothes hang on a series of kitchen storage racks (which, instead of the typical silver, are a dark brown bronzy color) and my desk is one of those really dark-wood affairs right up next to the window, which I can keep open whenever it’s warm as long as I like–it gets cold down here otherwise. 😉
All in all, it looks like something out of the Eighth Doctor’s TARDIS, which is absolutely fantastic, it’s probably my favorite of all the TARDIS interiors. Don’t get me wrong, I love Nine and Ten’s TARDIS, with its organic look and the feel that it’s a real living ship and entirely alien, and I like Eleven’s later TARDIS interior too; it looks really really Gallifreyan! but I really like Eight’s TARDIS the best. Books everywhere! The ordered chaos, clutter, armchairs, and candles that make it feel really lived-in. It just feels right for the Eighth Doctor, who is always wondering if he’s losing his mind or something else, misplacing things, and has nearly eight hundred years of clutter that seriously needs tidying up. He’s so scattered, it’s somewhat sad, but it’s also reassuring–that sense that the Doctor can be so human.
Sorry about the rant. I might be–just a teeny bit–obsessed.
Anyway, here, have some pictures:
Concept art. It looks like a gentleman scientist’s mausoleum, doesn’t it? Something out of the eighteenth century. 😉
This is the best view I could find of Eight’s TARDIS interior, showing the console very well, I think.
And here’s a little bit of a shot showing the bookshelves–not very well. Hey, he cleaned up! When did he clean up?!
Interestingly, I just discovered that Eight’s console looks a lot like Eleven’s, though the rest of the interior is totally different:
Here’s Eleven in his second TARDIS interior. Geronimo!
ANYWAYS. I also like to write and draw outdoors, but only when I’m not being bothered by big bad bugs. The patio is great for this–up until recently, there was moss all over the place. Then my little sister got into it. -_- Ruined the whole thing.
My mind palace is, inside, even more like Eight’s TARDIS, if that’s even possible, except that the decor is not just bronze but also owls and dragons as well. I tend to just write any old place there, so long as Anakin’s not around to bother me, but my favorites are the vault, the cathedral room, the gardens and the brook. Sometimes I even envision a replica of Eight’s TARDIS gardens because why not and also it annoys him. (One time I didn’t get anything done because Eight and I were chasing each other with dandelions and fake cabbages the whole time. For someone almost a thousand years old, he takes things way too seriously.)
Well… a character who I’ve created who will probably never feature in a novel… Casceny! No, just kidding. The steampunk time-traveler heroine may or may not have a novel in the works. Eventually. So far, the time travelers in the Mind Palace are Charles Wallace Murray and Meg Murray (A Wrinkle in Time and its sequels), the Doctor (Doctor Who), and my own characters, Emrys Williams, Casceny, and a young Hispanic lady who is going by the alias of “Maria” at the moment until I can pick out a better name for her. Emrys is first in line and Maria is second (multi-cultural time travel academy, here we come!) But Casceny is still not eliminated from the running.
But she’ll be in the countdown anyway, since right now she’s more of an interest person and an agent of chaos in the mind palace at the moment.
More seriously, Kysherin. Kysherin is my evil muse. Generally a not-very-nice person. Pesters me to write, and then bothers me while I am writing. If I come up with a wonderous thing, she comes up with a way to corrupt it totally. All angst, posted here and elsewhere, is absolutely 100% her fault. (Okay, except for the sensory-overload type, which is me trying to cope with my overwhelming surroundings.)
There’s also Oliver, who is one of my all-time favorite characters, and who Writefury and I came up with. I probably shouldn’t even be talking about him yet, but I haven’t mentioned what he comes up in, so we’re good… you’ll all probably recognize him when he does, though. Technically he doesn’t count because he DOES exist in a project in what Rosalie terms the Erin!verse (which is a composite of all my ongoing projects at any given time.) But it’s not a novel. I just HAD to post about him, since he’s AWESOME, and let me just say, I can hardly wait. ;-D
And finally, there’s Chaos, who is barred from the mind palace for obvious reasons. Chaos is my artistic vent. She always wants to fight and start minor class wars. She’s a teenaged Marxist and anarchist and I sometimes doodle her getting into well-deserved trouble when I’m particularly hot under the collar about something (mostly politics). Favorite pastimes include random vandalism and Luddite-ing with copies of Das Kapital. Needless to say, I never plan on posting anything featuring her on this blog. If she were here, Chaos would claim that she was created as a caricature of Bernie Sanders, but she is a blatant liar and you should not trust anything she says. Ever. (Caricacturing Bernie Sanders would be giving me far too much credit, and I can’t draw Trump.)
I know that not all of my readers are into Doctor Who, but this minisode makes a great jumping-off point for a new discussion. If you don’t want to you don’t have to watch the whole thing (the important part starts at five minutes and thirty-three seconds in), but it makes more sense if you do.
Notice how the Doctor (yes, that was the Doctor, even if you didn’t recognize him–he’s probably the most obscure one) says “Cas… I apologize.” He says “I apologize” instead of “I’m sorry” like the Tenth Doctor. Not only is this appropriate to his accent, which seems to me (lifelong American and non-expert that I am) to be a little more upper-class and even slightly archaic compared to the Tenth Doctor’s, but it’s also because the connotation is different.
For instance, when the Tenth Doctor would say “I’m sorry,” he was generally apologizing for some harm he’d unintentionally caused, or else he was saying just how sorry he was that he couldn’t save someone. David Tennant, on the other hand, saying “Sorry” is not actually the saddest thing in the world. It’s just the most adorable thing.
On the other hand, here we have the Eighth Doctor deliberately saying “I apologize.” Notice that he’s apologizing for what he is about to do. However, he isn’t sorry. His voice sounds more rueful, like he’s mourning the passing of a dream. If he feels any sorrow, it’s because the Doctor is dead and he’s about to be forced into a role he never wanted to fill, but he isn’t sorry for what he’s about to do. He’s feeling sorrow that things turn out this way, but he’s not going to back down. This is one of the things that I like most about the Doctor, but it also makes me a little bit afraid of him–his resolve is terrifying at times. This scene broke my heart, by the way, because I remember how adorable Eight was in the movie–he was such a sweetie!–and now he’s broken down and given up and that just hurt. *pounds on Life in general for being Evil* The way it’s played out, this scene is just so marvelously powerful, not least because of the word choice.
Also, kudos to Eight for being the only Doctor to double over rather than arching back during his regeneration.
Before the first rehearsals, actors working on a movie will sit down and read through the script together with the writers, producers, directors, etc. Not only does this show up any remaining grammatical errors, it also allows for any last minute changes to the script that might be necessary to add more depth to the characters. Does one of the lines just not sound right? Think about the character and then re-write it. Voice is extremely important.
Word choice and connotation, pauses and beats, intonation, volume, accent, and even misused words are your tools. You should be able to white out or even mix up the character’s names on a script and still be able to tell who said what. If you give it a decent try, maybe you’ll even be able to hear what each character “sounds” like. For now, forget the movie metaphor and the full sensory sweep. Consider the character’s socioeconomic background, history, the company he or she keeps, and so forth. How do they talk? How do they sound? Are there any misused words?