First things first, everyone get your minds out of the gutter. I know that there’ll be more than one furtive snigger at the title but we’ll just have to press on anyway. To be fair, if I was reading something from someone else with this title, I’d be the one with the stupid smile but hey ho.
What I want to talk about in this post is the importance of size to characterisation.
How many of you watched Battlestar Galactica? Either series but mainly the modern version.
For those who didn’t, first of all, shame on you. Secondly, an unsung character of the program was the Galactica herself. She wasn’t one of the Vipers that launched from either protruding ‘pod’ on her side, zipping into battle, carrying the fighter pilots to their potential death or glory. Instead, she is the resolute protector. The Galactica was the aircraft carrier who would place herself in harms way to cover her fighters. She’d take a battering from enemy fire to cover the smaller craft. Indeed, for me, one of the most gut wrenching lines in the entire series was delivered about the mighty ship, “She’s broke her back. She’ll never jump again.”
The action had followed all of the missions of the smaller craft and the troops, understandably in terms of the story that was panning out in the final episode, but would intermittently switch back to an external shot of the Galactica being pummeled by enemy fire. Just to show that she was being smashed throughout whatever else was going on. And she kept going.
But looking beyond the ships and inanimate objects, the bigger characters are regularly shown in the same way. Groot in the Marvel universe is vital to the story but takes by far the most punishment of the characters in the Guardians of the Galaxy, stoically protecting all of the others while saying nothing more than his signature phrase of “I am Groot.” Indeed Vin Diesel also brought to life another great character who was the misunderstood giant. The Iron Giant gives the ultimate sacrifice in a way that is guaranteed to always make me weep like a small child every time I see it.
These are my favourite examples of the sacrifice that’s given to the bigger characters and craft within storytelling and it’s a theme I wanted to shine a light on in my book. Using the Galactica example I talked about earlier, what I wanted to do in my novel was to keep the focus of the story on the big character. The Dragon is so often the monster of the piece or is a lumbering creature without any real character to speak of, I thought it was about time we kept the camera fixed on them. I wanted to look at the choices and thought processes which put the protective shield in place, regardless of the cost. I wanted to give the big characters, those who so often spend their time at the back of the team photo to give scale, their chance to stand front and centre.
So back to the initial question.
Is bigger better?
Bigger, smaller – it doesn’t matter really.
Just make sure you give everyone a turn as the hero.