Character Geometry

In my writing, I tend to avoid intellectual constructs: Save the Cat beat sheets, the Hero’s Journey touchpoints, etc. I tend to latch onto a intriguing character, opening line or concept and just “have at.” the one thing I do tend to do as I prepare to wade in to a new writing project is to plot out the central characters in a chart to show their social dynamics and interactions.

That I am not making six-figures a year means you don’t have to listen to me. Since this is my blog, I am going to keep typing anyway.

For my super-secret horror/comedy screenplay, I have seven teenagers stuck in the woods with the world’s most incompetent monster. Three are female, four male. The three young women form a tight triangle of Best Friends Forever. Three of the young men form a triangle of their own with the Football Quarterback, his Wing Man and the Center who brings beer. The two triangles interlock with tight links of blood and desire to form a character’s Solomon’s Seal. The seventh teenager, a hopeless nerd, is on the outside of that structure. His efforts throughout the film are focused on wedging his way into that, when he isn’t avoiding the monster.

For my novel “Camp Arcanum” I used a Four Humours character structure. This is based on the medieval theory that the human body is filled with four vital fluids the affect personality. Avoiding all the obsolete terms, the Four Humours characters each display a dominant trait: Action, Emotions, Intellect, and Senses.

Many famous stories use this format. Star Trek: Kirk, McCoy, Spock and Scotty. The Three Musketeer: D’Artagnan, Athos, Artemis and Porthos. Even, The Wizard of Oz: Dorothy, the Tin Man, the Scarecrow and the Cowardly Lion.

Camp Arcanum has a stable triangle formed by Marc Sindri, shovel-wielding Man of Action; Michael Caravaggio, Intellectual artist and historian; and Eleazar, renaissance faire libertine and Sensualist. Brenwyn, Wiccan High Priestess, provides an Emotional power to the Power Trio and stabilizes it.

Until the readers give their opinion on book, I can’t say how well it works, but the underlying structure has given me many opportunities for resonance and meaning in the writing past the jokes and undead skinless bunnies.


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