Once again I have gone against reading the book before the TV series/film, and have begun watching the TV adaptation of J.K. Rowling’s The Casual Vacancy.
It was the series’ opening episode that prompted me to try and read the opening pages. Sarah Phelps’ ability to introduce all of the main characters in such a short amount of time is commendable. Alongside this, praise must also go to Phelps for her ability to explain the connections between characters in a clear manner. It is these ‘character connections’ that I wanted to talk about today.
I remember starting out as a writer and falling into the trap of assuming that all the ‘good guys’ like each other and all the ‘bad guys’ work together, and the only conflict comes when it’s the big battle of good versus evil. Whilst this is traditional in some respects, there is no realism to this. Instead, giving relationships between characters a little bit of a rough edge, actually makes it more realistic.
Immediately in the first episode we learn that there is a friendship between the character of Fats and Arf, but it’s tainted by Fats’ bizarre and weirdly extroverted character.
Similarly, Fats relationship with Krystal isn’t the traditional, cliché and perfect love story. In some respects, it’s a tad awkward and doesn’t flower straight away.
Aside from The Casual Vacancy, the characters of Daryl and Carol in The Walking Dead also presents a unique form of romance. Their strong and vigilant characters mean that a cliché romance story would be disastrous. Instead, their subtle romance intrigues the viewer more.
So I suppose it’s more than avoiding clichés, it’s having a strong psychological link with your characters, and imagining what characteristics they like in other people. As a writer, you can then imagine these clashes or friendships and these will bring an interesting side to your story.
That is what I’ve learnt from The Casual Vacancy so far after watching it. What do you think of the TV series? Comment below!