Here’s the third and final post on Middle Grade Novels I wrote several years ago here on my blog. Hope this helps!
Everything I Need to Know about Middle Grade Novels I Learned from Jurassic Park
In Jurassic Park, each actor’s characterization was developed over the entire length of the movie and also affected the plot. Here’s how:
The main dinosaur guy:
1. His favorite dino was the raptor: By the middle of the movie, he was so scared of the raptors that he threw away his treasured possession (a raptor claw). By the end of the movie it was confirmed—the raptors were the most intelligent and scariest of all. He CHANGED by the end.
2. He disliked kids: By the middle of the movie, he was willing to help these kids even if he didn’t really like them. By the end of the movie, he cared deeply about these kids. He CHANGED by the end.
3. He always broke computers. In the middle of the movie, he couldn’t fix anything when technological/computer problems arose—even tho he was the most important person there. By the end of the movie, he was still helpless to solve the problem of getting the electricity turned back on via the broken computer. His characterization served to MOVE the plot forward by adding tension.
The math guy (Malcolm)
1. Believed everything was chaos: By the middle of the movie, he was a foreshadow of doom. By the end of the movie, his predictions occurred and everything became chaos. His characterization served to MOVE along the plot.
2. Gave a wisecrack about everything. Kept this up through the entire movie and never broke out of this. His characterization served to MOVE along the plot.
3. Was totally like a reptile and unlikeable (which made him somehow likeable!). Kept this up through the entire movie and never broke out of this. His characterization served to MOVE along the plot and added tension.
Grandpa (the owner of Jurassic Park)
1. Thought life was like an amusement park. By the end of the movie he CHANGED to know dinosaurs weren’t just an amusement park feature. His characterization brought RUIN.
2. Spared no expense. By the end of the movie he CHANGED to find out that no money could protect them from messing with “creation.” His characterization brought RUIN.
3. Was self-centered like a child. Kept this up through the entire move. His characterization served to MOVE along the plot and added tension.
The computer geek
1. Was totally over-the-top obnoxious. His characterization moved the plot along and brought RUIN to everything in the movie.
2. Was messy and irresponsible and greedy. His characterization moved the plot along and even RUINED himself.
3. Was the only guy who understood all the computer technology. This created a major plot issue when he figured out how to steal the DNA. Then it created a major plot issue when nobody knew how to fix his computer mess-up. His characterization actually affected the plot in major ways.
Each minor character had at least one unique characterization:
Grandson: very smart, invincible kid who loved dinosaurs: He got scared in the middle and needed care by the end—seemed a lot younger and vulnerable at the end.
Granddaughter: computer whiz. In the middle she was interested in anything techie. Her skills save the day at the end.
Lawyer: very totally predictable lawyer. Everything he said and did was so typical lawyer and everyone knew of course he’d be the first guy to go.
Overseer of dinosaurs: was in charge of raptors and worried about dinosaurs’ intelligence. This was a foreshadow technique and was used to move plot forward by adding tension. In the middle he keeps popping in to say he’s worried about raptor’s intelligence. He CHANGED by the end because the raptors took charge of him.
Writing this all down really helped me see how I need to develop the characterization of both my main characters and minor characters throughout the entire novel—beginning, middle, and end. It also showed me how I need to use their characterizations to move the plot along or throw obstacles in the way.
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