What goes through a writer’s head when creating the role of the the protagonist? Let’s call her the Prima Ballerina, this protagonist. She will dance across the sheets of paper, or your screen, and/or your mind throughout the narrative jig, pirouetting after every twist in the story. When she searches for answers, it is the writer that reminds her that she is vital. Like “Don Quixote [who] did not exist until Cervantes invented him,” (Margolin, 67) neither did our Prima Ballerina. I would like to transfer the debate between JJ and Aaron about the sincerity of plot and storyworld. Thereby raising the question as to what makes them believable and therefore sincere?
If these characters were to exist even before their story was penned would indicate that writers are somewhat prophets, which the aren’t. Hence we know that “characters are abstract in the sense that they do not exist in real space and time, and are more like concepts in this regard.” And if you were to argue that children may not naturally perceive this, there will be a natural point in development when a fantastical schism will occur and reality becomes lucid. Even if a child were able to immerse themselves within this story-world interacting with these characters, they are able to do so more fully because of their lack of life experience. They do not judge the characters they encounter like you and I; like sponges they absorb from these characters because they have little comparative material i.e life lessons. This i think also translates to the area of film.
As we move from simple narratives created for children stories must become increasingly intricate to match the reality the reader lives in. Be it fantasy-lands, science fiction, or drama, writers use ‘the fact domain (= set of facts that make it up)… or any of its sub-domains: the beliefs, wishes, intentions, and imaginations’ that parallel in some way the receptors world to create characters that readers can relate to and believe in. This of course is bracketed by the story-world. The sincerity of a character is completely then a construction of the receptor because the beliefs, wishes, intentions and most importantly imaginations of the receptor is at the forefront of judging how believable a character is.
While talking about Simple Men, JJ said that ‘the movie’s genius lies in it’s self awareness.” And thus it’s characters sincerity to the story-world and once again, JJ could not have put it any better, “they [the characters] take themselves completely seriously.” Although the desired affect plays an important role in the conception of a character’s sincerity what makes him/her believable is their commitment to the world they exist in. I mean imagine you chance upon a ballerina-drag queen prancing tippy-toed down a street, her chin slightly at an acute angle to the ground, all the while her arms in fifth position; then imagine her in new york doing it as if it were her job. You would think she was doing it for a reason other than just to get from point A to point B. You’d wonder… what’s that ballerina-drag queen’s story?