Another critical part of early exploration work is making an initial probe into your characters’ psychological and spiritual makeup. In other words, to begin to view them from the inside out, pondering what’s going on inside their heads and hearts. When it comes to writing good, truthful dialogue for these people, you’ll need to merge with each of them, to feel comfortable living inside them. You’ll need to be able, ultimately, to formulate and verbalize their every thought, presenting in words and actions their unique intellectual and emotional worlds.
My next few posts will hit on various aspects of a character’s internal world that are worth considering early on.
In making some determination of each character’s intelligence and its manifestation in thinking and behavior, it doesn’t really matter what measurement you use, but it should be something that will allow you to compare relative degrees of intelligence between characters.
I.Q. numbers might get you started—with 80 being below average, 100 average, 130 above average, and 150 and higher in the genius range—but this won’t get you very far beyond a beginning point of comparison. The numbers say nothing about the kind of intelligence or how a character uses his or her brain power; how that intelligence manifests itself in thinking and behavior and how this affects how a person talks and acts as well as how it influences the kinds of relationships that develop.
For example, one person may have the edge in terms of quickness of response or glibness of tongue and another person may compensate with the ability to intimidate or wield authority or power. Consider the play and film Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf? where although both George and Martha have remarkable verbal adeptness, George has the edge in rational, analytical thinking while Martha holds her own by consistently knowing what emotional strings to pull.
Next: A look at personality and sense of self…