There’s a concept I alluded to in Friday’s post about the Big Bad Wolf called Permanently Left of Center. As I briefly explored in that post, I stated that someone’s behavior will always be skewed in a particular direction, whether it be for good or ill.
What I want for today’s post is to go a little more in-depth with the examination of this phenomenon via two points.
1. Great Fodder for Character Development
You see, when someone does become Permanently Left of Center, there’s usually a reason. Whether the behavior is good or bad, no one ever really tarries too far from the median for no apparent reason. Because of the necessity of this reason, you have an excellent chance to develop a character further.
Do you have the Dudley Do-Right type of character? Is he overtly stalwart and noble? Perfect, but why? Was he raised by monks? Does he come from a family filled with the quintessential hero cop that goes down in history for his bravery and valor during the line of duty?
It doesn’t matter what it is, but you definitely need to make sure it matches. This harkens back to what I said in my two-part post series about Character Development.
You need to give this person a reason!
What better way to fill that history than with an experience/catastrophe that helped forge them into who they are!
In this scenario, I personally prefer to pick the skew of the characters personality and then write a back story that lends to it.
It doesn’t matter how you go about it, as this is a very universal concept, but just make sure it matches.
For example, Batman’s parents were killed in front of him during a mugging. It makes sense that he knocks heads all night every night in the name of fighting crime instead of say… giving out free hugs, or handing out free flowers at the Gotham City airport like a Hare Krishna. (Do you remember those guys?)
Props to anyone who gets that joke, by the way.
Whatever particular brand of madness you want to give your characters, it’s important you design a back story to match.
2. Opposite Emotions
Going back to the Batman example, it would make sense that such a violent happening in his childhood would drive him to become such a violent type of vigilante, but what about his better emotions and instincts?
I’m not sure it was ever directly addressed anywhere in the Batman universe, but have you all noticed that Batman never uses a gun?
Could it be because his parents were shot to death?
It’s possible, but here’s the thing. This translates to everything. An evil tyrant will have some kind of good, positive and nurturing emotion/impulse in him eventually.
What separates him from others, is that the evil tyrant would probably carry it out in a destructive and harmful way, as opposed to a way that actually clearly conveys the positive/nurturing/whatever emotions he’s feeling.
That skew toward the negative and destruction will taint everything in the other direction.
It’s sad but true, and it happens in real life, in every real person.
Conversely, people’s negative will also be tainted by their positivity.
Hence the expression, “He just didn’t have it in him.”
You must remember to uphold the character’s behavior not only when they match their natural proclivities, but also make sure to taint opposite with their inherent nature.
It’s a very tight rope to walk, and it’s hard to see on command. You must train yourself to look for it and make sure that everything is lining up the way that it should.
If you do it wrong it’ll stick out like a sore thumb, but if you do it right it’ll work wonderfully.
So what do you think? Have any experience with the Permanently Left of Center scenario? Have you used it before? Whatever you do think, leave your thoughts in the comments below.
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Featured image courtesy Pixabay, then modified by myself. I own no rights to the ones used in this post. If you do and want them taken down, contact me through this site and I’ll handle it.