Thursday, February 11, 2016

Being True To Your Characters

The other day, I saw this ad on TV, and it jumped out at me.

Okay, I didn’t catch the continuity issue that many internet commenters did. As a writer, I looked at something else, at whether the creators of this ad are being true to their characters.

If they were, we know the obvious, that the woman should be in the car, and the man should be sledding with the dogs. 

We like our creature comforts. 

But, since the ad appears to be geared toward men, then it makes sense he has to be the one to drive, and he also has to be the one to “rescue” the female. A blonde woman, at that. Why? Because an Inuit woman knows her environment and probably isn’t going to put herself in this situation?

Also, taking the likely traits of a feminine character into account, chances are high she would have mapped her route before she left on her excursion into the wilderness, and would have noticed that the river is in her way and planned a different course. Does "blonde" have a double meaning here? Tell me they didn't.

On the other hand, the ad writers might say this situation takes place in the Swedish Lapland, and the woman is on a dog-sledding adventure to see the Northern Lights. Where the guy comes in, I don’t know, but he has to, since it’s a car commercial. 

The writers might also say they didn’t want to stereotype. 

Well, that’s what makes writing believable characters so hard, and trying to find this balance, this gray area where humans live, can be exhausting. But writers persevere, and we have to, because nothing turns off a reader quite like a one-dimensional person

And, believe me, I learned this lesson the hard way.


Paffi S. Flood is the author of A Killing Strikes Home. You can also find her on twitter and facebook.

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