Judging People/Characters by Their Covers

Over the years it seems that popular advertising has taught us what a ‘worthwhile’ person ‘should’ look like. I’m endeavouring to change that brain-washed thinking in myself. For example: You see an overweight person. (For me that’s looking in the mirror) What’s your first thought? Lazy? Lacking in self discipline? Maybe that’s true, but only in so far as weight loss in concerned. It does not necessarily follow that that holds true for every facet of their lives.

Do you remember what the ‘hero’ in the movie ‘Jumpin’ Jack Flash’ looked like? All throughout the movie we learned everything about him, everything that is except his physical features. We heard his voice. Deep, caring, intelligent. We saw his apartment. Well ordered, masculine. We met his friends. People who were willing to die for him. We knew he was a spy, someone who cared passionately about his country. All this information formed an image in our minds of what he ‘should’ look like.

When we finally met Jack…well I’d be surprised if he looked like what anyone thought he would.

In my opinion, this movie is a fine example of ‘showing’ (as opposed to telling) us about a character. The way he spoke and the words he used revealed part of his character. Where/how he lived revealed more. The depth of concern his friends showed for him told us even more.

All these perceptions are tools we can use in our own written works to help portray our heroes and heroines and even our villains.

Hope this was useful