- A person alone: with a completely dedicated and individual agenda. By default an unreliable narrator.
- Actor and Reactor: feeding off each other, pressing one another on, seeking companionship for its own end. A partnership is, by default, accepts a level of intimate intensity. Most prosaically this manifests as romantic love, but could equally well be obsessive hatred, or any other kind of odd thing in between. Each partner in a duo will tend to reveal more of themselves to the other than they intend as neither of them can be distracted by anyone else.
- The couple and the lodger: Always two people will be united in purpose and the last will be identified as "other", "outsider" or "leader".
- The double date: People pair off and a love of symmetery makes two couples who police each other's status for some kind of equilibrium obsessively. Unlike a couple left to their own devices any point of conflict will be deflated or defeated by the other unit. Subtext begins to become a thing.
- The troublemaker: As this is an odd number the "spare" character is free to sow chaos among the other four people's stable set up. The "outsider" can prevent couple A from stabilising couple "B" or vice versa. The fifth party is always likely to be a source of contention.
- The dinner party: Three couples mean that each person in any de facto couple takes an opportunity to stand on their own, the number of permutations of one-to-one interaction here is large but finite. Although friction in certain actions may lead to much ado about very little this party is ultimately static in its bonds.
- The King or The Fool: Here the odd person, introduced into the dinner party scenario, has an opportunity to unite everyone (either in ordered placidity or in terrifying hatred of them), or to sew the seeds of ultimate chaos splitting the party into smaller subdivisions.
- The Gathering: A bigger dinner party. The larger the group from this point the more that each person present has to shout louder and be clearer to "control" or "own" the conversation. Now people will be very careful about things like social norms projecting an image of someone as "the type of person they want to be", idiosyncrasy in character will decrease, the wisdom and madness of groupthink will emerge, interaction becomes increasingly pageant like. There may be a "leader" but instead of emerging naturally through personality and charismatic dominance the leader is more likely to be, in some sense, elected and therefore take on the mantle of governmental power rather than personal charisma.
18 June 2014
Working On Your Characters - An Approach (Mine)
I put this as an answer to a question Writer's Stack Exchange