Dec 24 2007

Character Quotes: Catastrophe/Dr. Berkeley

Dr. Berkeley is a mathematician that Jacob Mallow hires to complete a project that relies heavily on numbers theory. Unfortunately for Berkeley, the project is actually an attempt to build a weapons-grade mutagen. Whoops. Several accidents later, he is mutated into a dead ringer for Katastrophy, the supervillain in a popular Japanese cartoon show.  In the aftermath of his mutation, he has to escape capture from his former employer and devise a serum to restore his humanity.

WRITERS’ NOTES

When designing a character, it’s critical that your audience discern key characteristics about each character.  Did the quotes help you associate Catastrophe with any particular characteristics?  Which ones?  Some variation of self-assured, eccentric and calculating probably made your list.  Did you get discontented as well?  

16 responses so far

16 Responses to “Character Quotes: Catastrophe/Dr. Berkeley”

  1. Tranon 05 Jul 2008 at 12:25 pm

    What about bitter or a gambler?

    [Cadet Davis: Thanks for your question. I suspect that occupations and other demographic details are useful, but they’re usually pretty superficial.]

  2. B. Macon 06 Jul 2008 at 3:37 pm

    We were also considering 10 other entries, but since the best one of them was “I’m not sure if you are aware of this, but you are irredeemably idiotic,” well…

  3. Bretton 12 Oct 2008 at 11:28 am

    How about these for Alex?

    1. “Have you ever heard of spontaneous human combustion? I assure you, it’s very painful.”

    2. “You’re annoying me. People who annoy me have a way of bursting into flames.”

    3. “You give the devil your soul before you get into hell. Me, I give out free samples.”

    4. “I don’t have time for jealousy. I only have time for revenge.”

    5. “It’s imbeciles like you that act as stumbling blocks in my path toward greatness.”

    6. “Most people think of me as a creep or a wierdo. I prefer misunderstood. So obviously I’ve never dated before.”

    7. “You have two options: walk away and end up humiliated, or fight me and end up a quadraplegic.”

    8. “No I don’t want you to find me a girlfriend. The one girl I like is too good for me, and most of the others aren’t good enough.”

    9. “There’s no way for me to answer that question and come out unscathed.”

    10. “Malcolm’s the hero. I’m the guy who gets things done.”

    What was your impression? Hopefully something like vengeful, arrogant, hot-tempered, and socially challenged. I’m not sure about # 3 because of the Judeo-Christian implications. Christian though I be, I believe that this would be out of place in a fantasy world. Personally, #7 is my favorite.

  4. Bretton 12 Oct 2008 at 11:36 am

    btw, do you think “You just got burned.” is too goofy? It’s a pun obviously.

  5. B. Macon 12 Oct 2008 at 2:58 pm

    I love #1 and #2. #10 has a lot of potential, but I think it could be more smoothly executed (perhaps “Why be a hero when you can get things done?”)

    I think 8 could work, but I’d recommend playing up Alex’s obnoxiousness. “No, I don’t want you to find me a girlfriend. If she’d give you the time of day, she obviously isn’t good enough for me.”

    6 also has potential, but it seems too circumspect. I’d recommend tweaking it to “I am not a creep. I prefer misunderstood.” I think the misunderstood is the punchline there, not the dating line.

    I didn’t like #7 a whole lot. Blustery threats are a treasure trove of one-liners. For example, maybe “Do you think we could resolve this peacefully? I’d hate to get your blood on my suit”
    On a side-note, #6 is fairly similar to one of our comedic scenes, where a human has a conversation with his mutant-alligator partner that goes something like this.
    HUMAN: Alligators are lazy.
    ALLIGATOR: We are not lazy! We are efficient.
    HUMAN: Hah! Whenever I go to the zoo, the alligators always just sit around doing nothing.
    ALLIGATOR: Strategizing! It’s not my fault you want to rush into everything.

  6. B. Macon 12 Oct 2008 at 3:02 pm

    “You just got burned” is kind of goofy. Also, it’s modern slang that would probably feel out of place in your story. Another concern is that the phrase will date the story. Readers in 10-15 years probably won’t be familiar with it.

  7. Bretton 12 Oct 2008 at 3:25 pm

    Thanks! I will do the tweaking.

  8. Bretton 13 Oct 2008 at 3:18 am

    What do you think about “Some people say the best weapon is one you never have to fire. I say, where’s the fun in that?”

  9. B. Macon 13 Oct 2008 at 5:02 am

    I like that, but I’d cut out the phrase “I say” from the second line. Also, it might feel more natural if the first line is delivered by another character, without the phrase “Some people say.”

    PERSON 1: The best weapon is one you never have to fire.
    ALEX: Where’s the fun in that?

    That’s pretty funny. I think you have strong comic sensibilities.

  10. Bretton 13 Oct 2008 at 7:14 am

    Thanks.

  11. Marissaon 26 Jun 2009 at 2:07 am

    I just ran into this again, and I felt like asking:

    How do you develop a list of quotes for less distinctively-voiced characters? As in, the ones that aren’t the punchlines of most of the jokes? This applies for a couple of characters, but the first one to mind is Tracer. She doesn’t talk much, and nothing outrageous enough to go on a list like Catastrophe’s.

  12. B. Macon 26 Jun 2009 at 5:24 am

    In that case, I’d recommend “cheating” a bit and letting other characters set the stage. For example, if we wanted to show Agent Black’s voice, it would probably be helpful to have Agent Orange set him up.

    AGENT ORANGE: It is well-known that American alligators will stop at nothing to thwart terrorists, felons and crocodiles, but now we have a new arch-nemesis!
    AGENT BLACK: The sane?
    AGENT ORANGE: Polar bears, dummy.
    AGENT BLACK: Polar bears.

    That’s not as distinct as a one-liner, but I think it helps me keep track of a few of Agent Black’s important character traits. First, he is very rational. He’s also indirect and maybe cowardly. He never says that he thinks Agent Orange is crazy; he only implies it. Finally, he gets a little bit shell-shocked by weirdness. (He repeats polar bears in disbelief rather than coming up with a clever putdown). So, in an intense combat situation later on, it’d be consistent if he locked up at a critical moment.



    I think that most interesting quotes require setup. I mean, if you looked at a list of the most memorable quotes of a movie you hadn’t seen, very few of them would be entertaining or powerful because you don’t know what the situations were. Take, for example, “We’re doing fine here. How are you?” In the context of the scene, I think it does a lot to build Han Solo’s character (he’s mentally sharp, good at improvising and a problem-solver). However, if you didn’t know the context, it’d probably sound like a banal nicety devoid of any redeeming qualities.

  13. Marissaon 26 Jun 2009 at 11:37 am

    Alright, so setting them up is alright, for this kind of list?

  14. Wingson 26 Jun 2009 at 1:56 pm

    I have to make one of these for Meg sometime. However, my favorite quote of hers thus far is: “Look, can we discuss what an idiot I am after we’re done fleeing for our lives?”

    – Wings

  15. Tomon 26 Jun 2009 at 4:23 pm

    One nice quote that I like and I think Sam Harrow would like too is ‘you guys are taking this waaaaay too seriously’.

  16. B. Macon 27 Jun 2009 at 3:17 pm

    “Alright, so setting them up is alright, for this kind of list?” Definitely.

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