Friday, 29 April 2011

X-MARKS-THE-SPOT - Arlee's A to Z - Characterisation

A lot can be inferred about the character from their placement. As you place the characters at the start of any pivotal scene you can reveal a little more about their character.

This is a positive but possibly blinkered position. A character in the centre and surrounded by others often can’t see the wood for the trees – they are consumed with current matters and not looking ahead

If your characters are placed higher that the others they have an advantage in terms of view.  This vantage point can suggest power, authority and aspiration.

When you position them geographically lower they appear vulnerable and powerless. This position can be useful to indicate caution and a rise in status later.

Like all good wall flowers know if the character is always at the edge of the scene it suggests insecurity and withdrawl – they get a good, if one dimensional view of a scene. This is the classic positioning for characters to misinterpret an event.


The German zoologist, H. Hediger, studied a range or different animals. He distinguished between:
flight distance (run boundary)
critical distance (attack boundary)
personal distance (distance separating members of non-contact species, as a pair of swans)
social distance (intraspecies communication distance)

Hall reasoned that, with very few exceptions, flight distance and critical distance have been eliminated in human reactions. Personal and social distance were still a constant in humans. He interviewed hundreds of people to determine modified criteria for human interactions.


The measurable distances between characters are important:

The distance of physical involvement: this can be measured in finger lengths: from actually touching to hands length away.

Personal space
The distance of friends and acquaintances tends to be arms length: one to four paces apart. People will stand this close even if there is an element of exclusion (this can be shown by having the uncomfortable character fidgeting or leaning away.)

Social space
These are the distances reserved for business acquaintances. This is a more formal distance.

Public distances
These are farther away than six paces. This can be shown in the direction each character is looking, the things that attract their attention.

How are you feeling? X-tremely anxious?

Xenophobic or  xoxo?   ;)


  1. Wow, this post makes me feel like mine was an epic fail! Great post.

  2. I liked this. Thought provoking and intriguing.


  3. Hi Wendy
    Thank you *blushes and grins
    That is quite an invite :D

    Hi Donna
    Thank you. I owe it all to desperation and the movie makers manual. ;)