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Sunday, 6 June 2010

Character. Actor #2: Atonement

James McAvoy said that portraying the character of Robbie Turner in the film adaptation of 'Atonement' was very difficult, because Robbie is too much like a saint despite his situation.

McAvoy is right, although the character in the novel recalls Winston Churchill's quote when describing the Soviet Union; "A riddle wrapped in a mystery inside an enigma." Robbie Turner's persona is romantic idealisation,  the embodiment of Briony Tallis'  childhood infatuation. It may be argued that pinpointing the moment when Robbie Turner becomes a tad too saintly could be the first indication to the reader that the  book is a meta-narrative artifice.

Manipulating your characters like the moving parts of a Chinese/Japanese puzzle box takes skill and planning. A prime candidate for main protagonist," ... should be the one(character) that hurts the most", according to science-fiction writer David Gerrold. The young lovers Robbie and Cecilia Tallis, suffer due to a painful separation brought on by Briony wrongfully accusing Robbie Turner of raping her cousin Lola, but Briony's later compounded guilt ensures that she suffers the most over the course of the novel.

'Who does your story hurt?' and 'Who does it hurt most of all?" are two questions to consider in the initial planning stages of a WIP.

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