My Oldie But Goodie posts continue on Middle Grade Novels…
Everything I Need to Know about Middle Grade Novels I Learned from Jurassic Park
In Jurassic Park 3, the characterization was weak and this made the plot weak. Another problem surfaced, however. Some of the main characters in Jurassic Park 3 weren’t even likeable. I mean, in Jurassic Park 1, even the minor characters and bad guys were so over-the-top unique that we liked not liking them.
Main scientist guy: He should have still been with his girlfriend. It totally erased the excitement and tension of this character by having his girlfriend now married with kids. This made him a loser. Instead, they should have been married to each other and she could have been unable to come so she stayed home and saved the day.
Dad: He was the most developed character in movie, but he was boring. Ordinary. A wimp. A loser. Nobody liked him or cared about him. The boyfriend who died in the beginning was way more interesting!
Kid: Robinson Crusoe type. He had the strongest characterization and came into the movie with a bang. But it lasted about five minutes. From then on, he was just an ordinary kid the rest of the movie and watched the adults solve the problems. He should have been the Robinson Crusoe guy the rest of the movie! He could have led them to hidden hideouts he’d created and done all sorts of things to get them to safety on the beach…but didn’t do a thing the rest of the movie.
Mom: The mom was the main character but did not have one single unique character trait. She could have been anybody’s mom, anywhere.
The main characters in this movie once again did not even have one unique characterization that was developed over the whole movie. The first movie gave each main character three unique traits and each minor character one unique trait and developed every person’s trait throughout the entire length of the movie to influence the plot. But not the second two movies. Their main characters were one dimensional and undeveloped. Their main characters had no unique traits and didn’t affect the plot in any way. The end result was that the plot lacked tension and was driven forward just by action. Therefore the last two movies lacked the thrill and excitement found in the first.
By doing such an in-depth study of the strengths and weaknesses in characterization in the Jurassic Park movies, I have learned invaluable lessons about developing characters in a middle grade novel! And another benefit of all this is that as I’m taking time to develop the characters in my own novel, I’m getting more excited about each one of them, too! The idea of writing the book is become more exciting, too, as I’m determining how to use characterization to drive the plot.