What Feels Real
Human beings perceive reality in sets of three. When something looks or feels “real” we say it has three-dimensions. For example: Every painting is composed of a background, middle ground and foreground. The picture is viewed as a whole and is instantly judged as to how all three visual elements work together. Likewise: Every piece of music is composed of harmony, melody and rhythm. Each song is heard as a whole and is instantly judged as to how all three compositional elements work together. All three layers need to be present to create the richest viewing or listening experience.
Emotional Depth of Field
A fictional character’s personality or “emotional depth of field” is composed of a psychological set of three. These are: the character’s Immediate Tactics, Long-term Orientation and Strategic Approach. The audience views the character as a whole and instantly judges how all three elements work together. Each layer needs to be present to create a rich complex three-dimensional character that “feels real.” Here’s a closer look at at the three elements:
A character’s Immediate Tactics are how a character viscerally reacts to an unexpected challenge, opportunity or threat. This is a character’s short-term or immediate response or action when caught unawares in a surprising situation or when encountering an unforeseen obstacle or problem. Immediate Tactics are where the character goes first emotionally. These tactics are a character’s automatic responses when startled or caught off-guard.
A character’s Long-Term Orientation is the characters ordinary actions based on his or her belief system and personal values. This orientation is defines what a character does based on how he or she views the world, believes the world works, values most or defines life, love and his or her role or place in the world. It is how the character acts overall based on his or her accumulated beliefs, assumptions and ideas.
A character’s Strategic Approach is how a character meets an opportunity, challenge or threat overall. This is how a character takes charge or commands others to achieve a goal over the long-term. Strategy is the art of obtaining a larger, grander or overarching objective. It is how the character tackles obstacles and works toward getting what he or she most fervently desires.