I've found this awesome individual interesting, complex, insightful and easy to relate with. She often approaches things from a unique perspective and sees that which others seldom consider.
Her post today is no exception. Just read below to find out what she learned from a television character!
So now, with all appropriate fanfare, I introduce to you the awesome Sarah Allen!
3 Writing Lessons from Dr. House
by Sarah Allen
He’s cranky. He’s manipulative. He’s a mean, bitingly sarcastic drug-addict with no discernible moral code.
So why do we love him so much? And what can our fascination with characters like Gregory House teach us about writing? Given the recent (and brilliant) show finale, I thought it would be fun to take a look. Even if you’re not as big a fan-girl as I am, Dr. Gregory House still has a lot to teach us.
1. The Super-Human factor: House is smarter than everyone around him. Sure he knows it and is frankly a jerk about it, but that doesn’t discount his incredible intelligence and wit that intrigues and fascinates us as much as his other characteristics might repel. He knows things and says things and does things that make us wish we were like him a little bit, that put us in awe.
Our characters don’t have to be jerks, but we do well to make them unique. Make them above the rest or different in some way. We want to know what it’s like to be in that position. It thrills us when characters do and say things that we would never dare do in real life.
2. The Humanness of the Super-Human factor: Yes House is a genius. He is also incredibly, incredibly human and vulnerable. He has a painful limp. He has a nearly inescapable addiction. He has an incredible affection and loyalty for his best friend. He has growing feelings for the beautiful boss that he doesn’t quite know what to do with. All these things make him relatable and shockingly and adorably vulnerable. My favorite moments in the show are when, despite House’s best efforts, these vulnerabilities show through the rough, scruffy exterior.
We love super-human characters, characters that do things we would never do. But we also want to know that they are like us and deal with the same painful things we deal with. When people as strong as these characters show this raw place, its cathartic and makes us feel like its okay for us to have the problems that we do. Though they are a bit super-human, these vulnerabilities make them seem even more human than the rest of us.
3. The Internal and External factor: One thing I love about the show House is that it tells both an external and internal story. We have the external story each episode with each patient and whether or not they are going to survive. Literally life and death stakes. Then we have the internal story, the team’s relationships with each other, House’s pain and addiction, his inability to maintain a close relationship with anyone. Emotional life and death stakes.
I honestly think that emotional life and death stakes are more important than literal ones. There should be an outside story, moving the characters through the plot, driving them towards an end goal. But what makes us actually care about this story and the characters is the internal, emotional story. We care about House because of his mix of super-human intelligence and incredibly human vulnerability, and we care about the outer medical story in-so-far as it relates to and changes Houses inner story. At least that’s how it is for me.
Anyway, I hope this gives you something to think about as you keep writing. If nothing else I got to picture Hugh Laurie’s face, and that’s good enough for me.
About Sarah Allen:
Sarah is a 23 year old uber-dork working on drafting her second novel and querying her first. She is a Jane Austen groupie, Peach Fresca addict and lover of jazz and post-grunge rock.
You can find out more at her blog:
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