Wind! Show Yourself: Characters Revealed Through their World
The wind gives the tree a reason to bow.
Wind shows itself through the things it moves. Waves are the children of wind, the protean ciphers of the hidden energy of the sky. Wind filled the sails that took ships across seas, vessels that sought new horizons, as surely as plunder. Wind inspires the senses and freezes them, carries seeds to faraway places, just as it blows them into oblivion. Clouds are the wind’s watercolors, impossibly impasto, those paints drawn from the sea that dance on the palette of the sky, undulating as they build, darkening until they burst in the winds of the storms that blow through many things. The breath of life begins with a scream, a cry, since we have come into this relentless world full of many Tempests, always. In a good story, there’s a metaphysical wind that blows through, one that turns the pages for you, makes you feel the protagonist’s bated breaths, the antagonist’s double-breaths from both faces.
That numberless upon me stuck as leaves
Do on the oak, hive with one winter’s brush
Fell from their boughs and left me open, bare
For every storm that blows.
— Shakespeare’s, Timon of Athens
Since inspiration literally derives from ‘breathing in’, a divine truth given by the faceless wind, that gasp of the seed of an idea can animate the blank page. Like the wind, the workings of an imagined world not only motivates the choices of the characters within it, those characters are attributes of that world. Think of a Hobbit. The Shire is more than a suitable ‘little world’ for these characters to have second-breakfasts, it is literally shaped by and for the Hobbits themselves. What makes Bilbo such an extraordinary character is him leaving it. Within the Shire, Bilbo is near-invisible, not unlike Gollum in his dank cave. Bilbo is motivated by more than just the quest, it’s a categorical imperative to stay on the move, a wind nobody else senses but himself, just to keep alive. The sight of a Hobbit in the face of the dragon, speaking with Smaug, fooling him, requires a powerful wind, indeed. Beyond that inner-wind, the winds of the world will blow away superfluities, subtract what seemed vital and expose what had been hidden, even if it leaves that character a pile of bones.
I am a feather for each wind that blows.
— Shakespeare’s, The Winter’s Tale
The winds of vibrant storytelling mix what was never seen to be soluble, breaks apart that which seemed adamant. At times, there is no distinguishing the imagined world from the imagined character, since both are moved together. Nobody saves the world, not really. The world finds a way to save itself, even if it seems to come down to a handful of its hearty attributes. All is world and the wind is its magic. Think of the fundamental nature of a spell, the way in which the elements are gathered into a powerful latency, before releasing…like wind through the leaves that wake the dragon, the same creature whose wings are so broad and powerful, they create a dragon wind that changes the course of events… Wind moves things and sometimes those things are not things at all, just words scrawling along a page, like a breeze building into a gale.