While revising one of my novels for publication, I started to realize that my characters don’t always act in consistently believable ways. I tend to throw in actions and emotions wherever the actions and emotions are needed, regardless of whether a real person, that character I am creating, would have actually done or said those things. Any character can say or think anything.
At the same time, I started to think about the TV shows that I like and the ones that I don’t. What’s the difference? I found that in the shows that I don’t like, I think, “Nah. That character would never say that.” But in the programs I do like, the characters are well developed and they stay within the bounds of their personality. I see their struggles, not only the ones pushed on them by external situations but by internal struggles coming from their authentic selves.
In my recording studio at home, when I write a new song, I have the option of recording through MIDI or recording directly from my piano. If I record through MIDI, I can change the sound of what I recorded to anything I want. If I don’t like the piano sound I can change it to a lead sawtooth synth or almost anything else you can imagine. I can make the “MIDI characters” anything I want them to be. However, there’s still a bit of sacrifice to my old-school ears, especially if I’m going for an old-school sound. I could never use MIDI to replicate the sound that a live jazz band can create. There’s an honesty, a believe-ability in the music played directly from instruments and recorded as they are.
So the point is, I realize that I need to work on writing real characters, not MIDI characters. MIDI characters can be flexible and fickle and do things out of character, but readers–depending on the genre of course–will always feel like something just doesn’t sound right. The character was created by a synth, that is, synthetically, not authentically.