Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Parataxic Distortion...or why does my character hate them for no reason?

Characters, you've gotta love 'em...even when you hate 'em. We've all come across books where we scream for the heroine and hate the baddie. You know the ones I'm talking about, Heathcliff, Edward and Bella, Sommersby...say the name and we instantly know who the person is.

So how do we make our characters more memorable,so our readers never forget them?

Well, one way of getting our characters to be more realistic is to add something called Parataxic Distortion.

Now before you go thinking it's some sort of intestinal parasite which causes undesirable flatulence, let me explain.

Have you ever meet someone and taken an instant dislike because they remind you of someone you'd rather not remember? It may be their name, or that they twirl their hair, or even facial similarities. The fact is we can't get past whatever it is to get to know the real person.

That's Parataxic Distortion.

Our heroine might have a problem with the hero as his long, dark, wavy hair and simmering good looks remind her of a past love who cheated on her. Or the hero can't get past the way our heroine reminds him of his dead wife.

Can you imagine how awkward it would be for two people to have to work and live in close proximity under those circumstances? Yep...could make for some interesting times.

Perception is distorted...but only for a short time. As with all great stories, our characters surmount the seemingly impossible chasm and live happily ever after...or not.

So what books have you read, or movies you've seen, that show Parataxic Distortion?


Andrea said... [Reply to comment]

Blessings and prayers,

Kris said... [Reply to comment]

Hmmm...can't really think of any off the top of my head, but have definitely done that! I can vividly remember the bully from elementary school and each time I hear that name, I think of him. Now, had I never met him, I probably would name one of my children that, but because his name brings up such bad feelings, that will never happen. Thanks for stopping by my place and for leaving such an encouraging comment Ms. Lee!

SRI said... [Reply to comment]

Thanks for stopping by, Andrea. ;) Thanks so much for your comment, Ms Mom, appreciate you sharing that part of your life!

Dorothy said... [Reply to comment]

Hello my darling Lee:)
I cannot abide the color orange. Even peach or coral, because they remind me of a cruel girl in school who wore orange as her 'signature color'. There is nothing in my home in that color, or in my garden... and when a kindhearted soul has given me something orange as a gift, it is delicately delivered to my mum's place for a new and loving home.
I can't imagine what I would've done if my honey had turned up in our early courting days with a bunch of orange roses! Shudder at the thought and happy for the near miss!
Dotti :)

SRI said... [Reply to comment]

I'm happy your darling didn't show up with orange roses too! That was a God moment for you. I'm sure your mum appreciates all the wonderful gifts you pass on. ;)

For me it's a certain female name starting with an 'S'. Every single time I hear that name, I get the shudders. Weirdly enough, every single woman with that name seems to be the same to me, parataxic distortion at its greatest, lol.

I wonder how you can use this in your wip? You've already got the creepy doctor down pat. ;)

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