Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Ariel needs a makeover!

So I finally saw the 2011 version of FOOTLOOSE the other night. And learned a big lesson on character development. Some of you might have seen my facebook rant on the topic ;)

I loved the movie, thought it was really fun. I'm a sucker for a dance flick since I have zero rhythm. I'm about as good at dancing as I am at math. bahahaha. Yeah.

I thought Ren was awesome. Great character, good sympathy, well developed. We saw his rebellious side but we understood him. He had more gold in his heart than brass. He was solid. And the boy could move.

But Ariel. Oy. Julianne Hough did a fabulous job portraying the angsty teen role, but this was terrible character set up. First, her reasons for rebelling didn't match the method of rebellion. She was given zero sympathy because other than knowing her brother died three years ago, we had zero insight into her attitude.

Plus, Julianne Hough didn't dance. She moved suggestively and wiggled her barely-denim-clad booty. Sigh.

Ariel, gorgeous as she was, needed a makeover. Internally. I was actually a little upset/disappointed when she got the guy in the end because I didn't think she deserved him. I think she made a turning point and was headed in the right direction at the end of the flick, but that change was so new and so 180 that it needed time to germinate and grow. Be real. Believable. Personally, the girl needed another entire movie to get her act together before she deserved Ren.

Take what you can from this guys, and apply it to your writing. Make your characters real. Relatable. Have the reader feel sympathy for your harder-crusted characters. Give them reason to be the way they are. I actually felt more sympathy and understanding for the evil Queen in Snowwhite and the Huntsman than I did for Ariel and her immature shenanigans. Because they showed it to us. Give your readers insight into your characters. And to do that, remember, you have to know them first.

They got it right with the Queen. They got it right with Ren. They missed the mark by a mile with poor Ariel.

Personally, I think the nerdy/best friend/goofy/sidekick guy totally made the movie anyway ;)


  1. I've never seen either footloose, lol!

    I don't understand how to get to know characters. People say they interview them or take them to Starbucks. I don't get it, now do you do that?

  2. Pretend like you're trying to get to know a friend. Make a list of questions, things you want to learn about them. Even things that you think won't possibly matter to your story. What's your favorite color? What would you order at Starbucks? Do you like storms or are you scared of them? What color is your bedpsread at home? What is you dream job?

    Answer the questions from your character's Point of View. Just start answering them. Is your character sort of a tough chick persona? Then her bedspread is probably black, or silver, or maybe red and black. It wouldn't be pink. Is your character a girly girl? Then she's probably afraid of storms, has a pink bedspread and orders extra whip on her mocha. ;)

    Take the basic thought of your character that you DO know (such as girly girl or tough, scarred or Pollyanna-happy, etc.) and then answer the questions based on that foundation. You'll get to know them, and usually when you do this and keep going with questions you will discover their back story. Something will pop up that gives you an idea for your plot.

    To keep going, ALWAYS ASK WHY.

    Like what if your character is tough-girl, kickboxing, scared of nothing...except storms? Okay, why? She was trapped in the dark home alone one day as a child during a hurricane and never got over it. Okay, why? Does that play into fears of abandonment? How does her relationship with her parents fit in? Why she was home alone? Did someone die in that storm?

    See how it snowballs?

    Make sense?