Monday, May 9, 2011

Animated Advice

"Ogres are like onions. They have layers. We have layers. End of story."

Which is a unique way to deliver some old advice, don’t judge a book by its cover.

Ogres and onions aren’t the only ones with layers. People have them too. Seldom what you see on the surface is who a person really is, and only after you get to know them do you realize how complicated they are. Most of us are a study of contradictions. We are not all one thing or another. We are a combination of nature and nurture.

We have layers.

Think of the serial killer whose neighbors reported to be such a nice man. Who knew he was mackin’ down on his victims with a side of slaw and can of diet Pepsi?

Or the man whose son was kidnapped and murdered, his killer never caught but instead of falling apart this father dedicated his entire life to bringing other killers to justice.

What about the cynical accountant who seems so responsible and level headed on the outside but secretly rocks out to Eminem and dreams of being published one day?

The characters we create need layers as well. If we spend a little time thinking about what motivates them, and why they react the way they do, we can peel back a few of those layers and bring our characters to life.

If you don’t believe me…just watch Shrek and Donkey. They can teach us a thing or two.


  1. Ooh, you went a few layers deep on this one. Very nice.

    How a character reacts to their situation can depend on so many things. Depending on how much time you devote to creating a history for them, it can really open up some crazy possibilities when the conflict hits the fan.

  2. Love it - especially the picture as I love Shrek! But yep, the more layers a character has, the more three-dimensional they are.

  3. I so agree with anything Shrek or Donkey say. And of course they're always right.

  4. Those cynical accountants are the ones we need to watch out for :)

  5. So true :) Creating layers for our characters (which I think comes in part from creating their backstories) really does help when we're writing so that they come across complex, and interesting. I do it for every character, no matter how small :)

  6. :) I love Shrek, especially the first one! And yeah, I totally agree - those layers are really what makes/breaks characters.

  7. That cynical accountant? That's just unrealistic! lol.

    I agree that characters need layers. On the other hand, I tend to err in the other direction. My characters are more complex than the logic behind a new scientific theory. :(

  8. Great comparison. Love Shrek, and your post. :)


It helps to know I'm not just talking to myself.