You’ve seen the Lego Movie, right? Or at least heard of it, I’m sure. Who hasn’t heard someone belting out “EVERYTHING IS AWESOME!!!”?
I ask because I’m here today to explain how Emmet is really a fantastically written character. Why, you ask? Let’s take a look at him.
Emmet is the perfect cookie-cutter citizen. He’s one of those clique-y, politically correct fit-ins. He says all the right things, wears all the right things, “likes” all the right things. His life is pretty perfect, at least to him, because he’s oblivious that everyone around can barely see him for his lack of originality.
In other words, Emmet’s little world doesn’t need help. Or, at least, he doesn’t think he needs help. This is how every work of fiction should start out. Your character believes their world is perfect. They’re content. They know what they want in life. Heck, they may even be in a successful relationship.
But is their life actually perfect?
Let’s find out.
One day, Emmet accidentally stumbles into a deep, deep ravine behind his workplace. This is only the first road bump. The second rude awakening comes when he wakes up in an interrogation room. He learns the no one remembers him. They all think he’s boring. Nothing special.
And that’s what characters are, until they go on their journal. Nothing special.
Emmet goes on this epic adventure, where he learns that he CAN do things. He CAN be special, if he puts his mind to it. Then, in an instant, his entire new world shatters.
Most of the time, in a book or movie, this point comes. Since the character is just starting to find themselves — REALLY find who they truly are — it only takes a slight shake to kill their dreams. In Emmet’s case, it’s fourteen little words thrown at him like a ton of bricks.
“As unspecial as I am, you are a thousand-billion times more unspecial than me.”
And you know what? Emmet believes it. Why? Because he’s doubted himself all along, and he’s just been waiting for someone to confirm his suspicions. He isn’t special, he’s just a nobody.
Most characters doubt themselves until the moment they’re put to the test, in Emmet’s case the moment he realizes he has to sacrifice himself for his friends to live.
Your characters should always have this epiphany moment, where they realize what’s most important to them. This is what makes them who they’re becoming. This is the moment of truth. And it almost always makes them even more awesome than they were to begin with.
So, you see, Emmet is a really well written character. His characterization shows us how to build a character up and tear them down in just the right way to make them who they’re meant to be.
So, what have you learned from Emmet’s journey?
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