Wednesday, 28 October 2009
character development: rebirth and reinvention
This option is not taken lightly, rebirth is traumatic, may have deep psychological or spiritual implications from which the character may grow. Confronting deepest fears or flaws is optional yet the option to confront these is often taken, whether as part of a point of no return or projection scenario.
It's also rarely advisable to force rebirth on characters in interactive entertainment without prior foreshadowing and demonstrating why the rebirth is necessary. The process is best served either following a dark night of the soul or a gradual yet visible apotheosis. If you can manage both at the same time, this is powerful stuff.
Reinvention - The alternative is to either recreate a character to make them new or update an existing character to maintain their relevance, allow for new cultural sensibilities or to emphasise a particular focus - letting a character develop in ways that the original could not predict or that was unsuited to.
Where rebirth acknowledges what has gone before, reinvention prefers to focus on the renewed aspect of the character and minimise or even revise prior knowledge in favour of the new image. As a result it grants more authorial control over the character and their environment.
This process can kill a character deader than disco if mishandled and is best done with an eye to what makes the character emotionally resonate with it's audience. When renovating the character, adding emotional hooks or minor details that catch attention may provide jumpstarts for strong stories.
These two processes permanently change the status quo of a character - a big step! Done well, it transforms a character into something much greater. Done badly and it means either applying retroactive continuity which damages their credibility or worse, forcing the character into yet another reinvention.
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