The Learning Curve

Lately, we’ve talked a lot about characters that are experts in their field. What about the beginners or the people with a little experience under their belts, but who are far from expert.  Not every character has to be the biggest, baddest or even the most experienced. It can be just as fun and engaging to write/read about a character that’s still learning.

Think of the comedic potential of a newbie. Newbies aren’t going to be smooth and fluid. They are going to be awkward and jerky and potentially a little accident prone until they get a better understanding of how their bodies should be moving through the techniques.  I remember the first time I used a bo staff in class. I thought I was doing so great. I was picking up the moves to the kata no problem and then WHACK! I hit myself in the head with with staff doing a figure eight. At that point, I rubbed my head and did a quick look around to make sure no one had seen my little mishap, and moved forward. Or course, I held the staff a little further away from that point on.

Newbies also don’t think like a martial artist with years of training.  Blackbelts have developed the ability to quickly assess an attack and react. To see all of the possible defenses and counterattacks. A newbie hasn’t develop that ability yet. They will know the moves, but they may not yet be able to see all of their fighting options.  One of my works in progress has a fight scene in which one of my heroes, who is still very much a beginning martial artist, is in a fight for his life. The villain happens  to position himself perfectly, allowing my hero to perform a textbook technique. As he completes the maneuver ‘Woohoo, it worked!’ runs through his mind  quickly followed by ‘Oh crap, now what?” when the villain counters.

Sometimes the novice strikes just the right note for both reader and writer since we’ve all been there at some point. I’m not just talking about martial artists or high action characters, this can apply to any character. We’ve all had to stumble through the learning process making embarrassing blunders and exciting achievements along the way.

I’d love to hear your thoughts on this so please jump in and share. Do you have a preference when you read/write? Do you lean more towards the characters that excel at what they are doing? Do you enjoy reading about the rookies?

I guess I’m on the fence. I love, for example, reading about Eve Dallas kicking butt and taking names, but I enjoyed just as much watching Peabody learn and grow.

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2 responses to “The Learning Curve

  1. I love this idea, Rayna. We get so caught up in creating bad-asses that it’s easy to forget about beginners. Like you, I enjoy reading about both, depending on the character and the situation.

  2. Thanks Gwen, and you’re absolutely right we are so focused on the kick butt hero and heroine that we forget there is a wide spectrum of possibilities to work with.


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