A World Building Post That Turned Into a Diatribe on Attention Span and Character Development

If I could step firmly onto my well used soapbox for a minute, I’d like to express the following:

There has been a tendency in modern media to go so over the top with character concepts that you could look up and kiss the moon.

This trend is troubling, and as the years wend their way past we begin to see this inspiration take hold. While this might sort of character concept bravado may (rarely) work out for you, the characters that are remembered are personalities with some level of depth.  Intellectually speaking, the mind desires a narrative full of people with foibles and dreams.

Characters are remembered, while caricatures are at best a pastiche of everything that came before them. A caricature, of course, being a person that is defined by one or two often exaggerated characteristics. Consider modern television for a moment; characters on television have either begun as or turned into some overblown collective of unbelievable personalities that exist only to deliver punchlines and engage in otherwise outrageous activities.

no caption necessary

And I know that there are exceptions, and television isn’t _entirely_ a Mad Max-esque wasteland of shallow people, but it is in this wasteland that narrative now calls home. Watch Tuff Puppy (or actually, don’t), and you’ll see that it has transcended a kind of joke a minute threshold into a desperate pace that would make John Moschitta‘s head spin. This is unnecessary, except for that fact that holding anyone’s attention longer than for the length of a vine video is now next to impossible.  Jokes are told in seconds, morals in 15 minutes (commercials permitting), and anything more lengthy than that can be accomplished in a two-parter.

What does this have to do with world building? At this point I have discussed why developing your characters is important, but I have not yet discussed how. You can’t have a world without personality. Try as you may, a quirk is not a substitute for a personality, nor is an exciting haircut, nor a clothing style, nor a taste in music, nor a hobby.

Not pictured: a personality

Gone are are the days of careful timing, the delicacy of on screen silence, and plain vanilla character development. But then this is not the arena of moving pictures. Books deliver it better, but of course, books have a cancer all of their own. I know you might be expecting some image right below these words, but I won’t even dignify any of that awful drek they call literature…

I guess what I’m saying is that as a society we are beginning to have a deficit character. It is evident in our media, our personal lives, our expression, our role models… I’m not even really asking that people behave a certain way, but rather that they at least have some depth to their identities.

I don’t really have much more to say than to fall back on what some of you might have already predicted.


Shame on me for not being more dynamic.


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