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  • Daphne Mintz

Abstract Characters

#character #examples #theme

Treating themes, such as Feminism, Civil Rights, the Depression, Beauty, Death, etc., as actual characters is a super fun practice in writing.


Themes Personified

You can go as far as including an actor in your script that personifies your theme. Complete a character breakdown and backstory for the character, including giving them a name. Imagine Feminism being named Candy. (So much fun to be had there!) Give your character a personality by adding in habits or rituals.


Examples

Here are a few habits Death may practice depending on the personality to be portrayed:

  • She keeps a compact mirror and lipstick handy. She methodically applies lipstick whenever she is about to take a life.

  • He keeps a pair of dice in hand, but never rolls them.

  • She's always reading, and you're never sure if she's listening to anyone.


Props with Purpose

Most of us will not personify our themes into full-blown abstract characters. Instead, consider using props to represent themes. Though it's a seemingly more subtle approach, a prop provides opportunities for our characters to physically interact with the symbol you assign to your theme.


Examples

  • Imagine Lipstick as a symbol of Power. A character breakdown for Susie may include this description: Susie keeps a compact mirror and lipstick handy. She methodically applies lipstick whenever she is about to take over a situation or conversation.

  • Love may be symbolized by Dice. We see that Lewis always keeps a pair of dice handy, but never rolls them.

How could you use a rose as a symbol of Power, Death, Beauty, or Love?

You can treat a prop like a character in your prep: give it an backstory, including an age and a name. Do everything to the prop you would a human character. Put it at risk, give it a desire or need, and take it on a journey where change is important.




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