Saturday, February 04, 2006

For the Forth Time

We shall see. Blogger has been playing hide and seek all day.
This is the forth time I've posted only to have it disappear into the abyss.

While leafing through "A Glossary of Literary Terms" - a booklet pressed upon me in freshman English - I glanced at the section Plot and Character.
Characters may be described as either 'flat" or "round".
This discrimination is blamed on E.M.Forrester.
To quote:
"A flat character is presented only in outline without much individualizing detail, and so can readily be described in a single phrase or sentence.
"A round character is a complex and fully realized individual, and therefore is as difficult to describe with any adequacy as most people are in real life.
"All plots, properly enough, have many flat characters; there is no need for Mistress Quickly to be as globular as Falstaff.
"And in many types of plot, such as the detective story or adventure tale or farce comedy, we do not demand that even the leading characters be more than two-dimensional.
"Sherlock Holmes and Long John Silver do not require, for their own excellent literary functions, the roundness of a Hamlet or a Becky Sharp."

With the caveat that " the detective story or adventure tale or farce comedy" has developed considerably in terms of character dimension than this dated and paternalistic description suggests, I find this division interesting.

As someone else said, about the postman who brings that Important Letter that fateful morning, we do not need to know about the postman's life/wife/ dog or breakfast.
There is a place in fiction for the stereotype, drive-by character.

18 comments:

Lisa Hunter said...

Bernita,
On a totally different topic: who does these illustrations you use in your blog? They're wonderful.
Lisa

Bernita said...

Thank you, Lisa!
They're mine - from a series(Hang-Ups) I did a long time ago.
Found them digging through old files and used them as an excuse to wheedle a scanner for Xmas.

Gabriele C. said...

The example works for me, Bernita.

I wanted to tell you all day. :-)

Gabriele C. said...

The example you posted before, I mean.

Should have reread this post before commenting. ;-)

Bernita said...

I re-post it tomorrow, Gabriele, thank you.
Just couldn't face typing the damn thing another time in case Blogger boggered again.
Soon as I emailed Blogger the problem seems to have been fixed.

Gabriele C. said...

But there's no need to type, you can copy/paste the text. Except if you write your novels longhand. ;-)

Also, it might be a good idea to write all longer posts for the net in Word first and keep them there until you can be sure they'll stay online for some time. I've had my share of surprises with forums and emails.

Should probably do that with all blogger comments as well, even the shorter ones. *sarcastic grin*

Bernita said...

It's an odd kick in my gallop,but I find that re-typing a scene for a post has revision benefits.
Yes, it would be a good idea, an excellent idea, Gabriele - except I don't know how to do the transfer(Yes, I know - it's so easy - except that I'm an idiot).One step at a time.

Gabriele C. said...

It isn't difficult.

You mark the text by running the mouse over it with the left button pressed - the marked text then should appear white on black instead black on white. Next, press CTRL, keep pressed and also press the c key. Then go where you want the text to be, press CTRL again and the v key.

Obs. The computer has a limited short term memory. If you repeat with a different text, it will overwrite the first one.

Ivan Prokopchuk said...

Speaking of flat and round characters, I wonder if MissWrite,(Tam?) will weigh in on this.
I made some idiot comment on Humpty Dumpty trying to appraise her very vertical icon. Hope she took it in good fun. I usually write to garner a guffaw.
But I do see by her blog that she has at least three books out.
I thought that as a pro (no, not the last posting!) she would have some good comments on characters, flat and round.
I have done something on my own blog, but it seems more about Philip Roth that E.M. Forster.

p.s.
I published something in the Newmarket Era-Banner today. Just a letter, a good way to start, I think for a writer. Gets the old name around.

Ivan Prokopchuk said...

Whee!
We're back on the air.
Hope that worm doesn't turn.

Rick said...

Absolutely there is a place for two- or even one-dimensional secondary characters. Though sometimes I pause to wonder about their own lives that briefly intersect the story before going on their ways.

Related to this is how characters develop roundness as you write them. I'm writing the sequel of the book my agent is peddling, so I find myself dealing with people I know quite well from the last book, side by side with ones I've only just been introduced to myself.

Rick said...

Blogger is still strange! It let me post here, but I get 403 Forbidden when I try to go to Carla's or Gabriele's blogs.

Mark Pettus said...

I've discovered that there are round and flat characters in life as in literature. I hate it when people forget which category they fall into.

I do not need to know that the daughter of the lady who runs the cash register at my local gas-station has a bacterial infection that may be a problem, because she is getting married next week, and her doctor has ordered her not to have sex until after she finishes the antibiotics, which will be three days after the wedding, and the boyfriend is already begging for it.

Hello.
Here's your receipt.
Thank you.
Have a nice day.

That's all I need to know. Really.

Bernita said...

The cash-and-carry diva.
They do exist.
I always am a little surprised though,to find stereotypes in the flesh, Mark.

Saw that Roth post, Ivan. As I said on your blog - have you seriously considered the erotica market? You might blow them away.

jason evans said...

Blogger has been an absolute train wreck this weekend. I LOVE the updates they post on the main blogger page to explain what's going on. not.

More on topic, I like two dimensional characters for the most part. They allow the reader to insert more of their own expectations into them. Too many "round" characters would be draining. In life, we tend to concentrate on a few best friends, and deal with everyone else more superficially.

Bernita said...

That's a very good point, Jason, some need merely to be sketched in.

Bonnie Calhoun said...

I usually only make flat characters if I'm going to kill them off fast!

Blogger was...in the ditch..so to speak...this weekend!

Ivan Prokopchuk said...

Have I found my true calling?

Oh Bernita,those double entendres!