Writing Elemental Characters


The Ancients believed that everything was made of four basic elements: Earth, Wind, Fire, and Water. These Elements were symbolic of the whole of human life and everything in society. With that in mind, Creative Writers have a template of character forms they could use to create four fully developed characters, who themselves compose a quartet of a perfect slice of humanity.

These same Ancients also believed in a fifth element that was a combination of all of the other four known as the Quintessence. So if you wish to use the four symbolic Elements in forming four characters, a good addition would be to add a fifth character – the Quintessential character.

Qualities Of The Elements

There are plenty of places to research the Four Elementals, but allow me to provide a quick rundown of what these Elements represent.

  • Air – thought, reason, the higher functions of the brain.
  • Earth – intuition, gut feelings, emotional responses to other things.
  • Water – sentiment, nature, interconnectivity.
  • Fire – impulse, pleasure, chaos.

There is certainly more that could be said, but this will suffice to get the basic points across. Like I said, there is more available to study if you so wish. But even this scant amount is sufficient for the Creative Writer who wishes to use this to form characters.

One Example

I have used this form before in more than one novel, but one work in particular structures the five main couples on this pattern. This comes from my novella, Firmament. The five main couples are Jonathan and Florida Gameret, Juan and Mariposa Tierra, Ian and Lilly Dotian, Johnny and Bryony Rivers, and Ivan and Iolanta Nyebov.

Rivers clearly refers to water, and Tierra has to do with the earth. Dotian is an old Celtic word for fire and Nyebov is from the Russian word for sky. This would imply that the Gamerets are the Quintessential couple. There surname has a different meaning (taken from Parzival). All of the men’s names are forms of the Quintessential male’s name, Jonathan. And as Florida refers to flowers, Mariposa, Lilly, Bryony, and Iolanta are all names of flowers. It also implies fertility, which is only made possible in the Quintessential couple.

The novella Firmament deals with love and strife as the two creative elements in life. This story is how all of these couple fall in love, but eventually deal with death. How one or both died again harkens back to their Elemental nature. The Tierras crash over a blown bridge on a train to the gorge floor below. Ian Dotian is blown up by a grenade. Bryony Rivers drowns in a car the goes over a bridge into a river. And Ivan Nyebov’s Russian bomber is blown out of they sky by a German fighter plane.

And of course, these characters share the qualities associated with their Element. Juan Tierra is very emotional, even to a fault. Ian Dotian was given to a chaotic life, and his wife Lilly is definitely impulsive, if not impatient. Johnny Rivers was quite sentimental about his mother. And Ivan Nyebov demonstrates great logical skills and his tendency toward deep thinking, particularly discussing politics with the tail gunner while they are on their first bombing raid.

There are a lot of forms available for developing characters in groups. I depends on how many you wish to put together and what the story demands. All good Creative Writers should appreciate the skills that go in to proper character development and take any opportunity to add to their folio anything they can. These can help us become the Quintessential Creative Writer.

I hope you enjoyed this article, and if you did, please hit the Like button. And if you of other authors who could use this material, please share this post with them.

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Showing Emotion by Robin Patchen


Today’s we feature a guest post by Robin Patchen. She is a writer and blogger and has a new book out, Finding Amanda. You are invited to enjoy her article and explore all of her links given below.

How do most of us (note—I’m one of the us) show emotions in our stories? Often, we use physical responses. Here are a few:

  • Sad—eyes filling with tears
  • Angry—fists clenching or slamming stuff
  • Worried—gut twisting
  • Happy—smiling, grinning, laughing, chuckling, giggling

It works, it’s easy, and it makes the point. It’s perfect.

Maybe not.

It has been said that the purpose of fiction is to evoke an emotional reaction. So let me ask you, when you read the words, “Her eyes filled with tears,” do yours? Because mine don’t. And I don’t even know what a twisting gut feels like. Those phrases may show us how your character feels, but they don’t evoke any emotions. So how do we make our readers feel along with our characters?

I don’t have a step-by-step plan. However, I have recently had an epiphany. Counselors tell us that thoughts lead to emotions, and emotions lead to actions. So what happens if you show us your characters’ thoughts and actions? Seems to me their feelings will be obvious, and you won’t need to tell us about their rumbling guts and teary eyes. And if you do it right, you can make the reader feel what your characters do. An example:

John hefted his bag and limped down the metal stairs, forcing himself not to rub that sore spot. Plenty of guys had worse injuries than his. He stared across the tarmac. A band played on the left. An array of dignitaries stood in his way. He scanned the crowd. They held signs that read Welcome home and God bless our heroes.

It was time to be a different kind of hero.

She stood beyond the suited politicians. His wife had curled her hair that day, just like he liked it. A year had passed since he’d seen her last. A year of dust and death, of protecting the innocent and chasing the guilty. A year he’d never get back.

He circled the official greeters, ignoring the protest from his colonel, and approached her. He stopped a few feet away and peered at the bundle she held in her arms. His wife shifted so he could look. Three months old. Blue eyes that looked so much like his own. Curly brown hair. The baby smiled and turned away. John returned his gaze to his wife. “He’s perfect.”

“He looks like you.”

“I’m sorry I wasn’t—”

She stepped into his arms and fell against him. “You’re here now. Home and safe. That’s all that matters.”

In that scene, we read the man’s thoughts, and we see his actions. His gut didn’t twist at the sight of those dignitaries. His heart didn’t speed up as he scanned the crowd for his wife. His eyes didn’t fill with tears when he saw his child for the first time. But he did feel something. Did you?

So how did it work? A few observations:

1-Start with a character your readers care about. I took the easy road and created a wounded hero, but I only had 200 words to work with. With an entire novel and some skill, you can make your readers care about almost anyone.

2-Let the character’s thoughts reflect his feelings. He thinks about his time overseas—“A year of dust and death…” and follows it up with, “A year he’d never get back.” Do you hear regret?

3-Give us a glimpse of the character’s desire. In this case, I added that one remark—“It was time to be a different kind of hero.” Life as he knew it was not enough for John. He wanted something more.

4-Use compelling dialog. He could have said, “Hello.” She could have responded with, “How are you?” But while those ordinary expressions are realistic, they don’t mean anything. Instead, dump all the banal stuff and make your dialog reflect your characters emotions.

5-Use feelings and snapshots to set your scene. Show the scene through the eyes of your character, so his description reflects his feelings. The dignitaries weren’t just in front of him, they “stood in his way.” He immediately looked past them to scan the crowd. And if you can think of a snapshot that resonates with readers, use it. In this case, I used a welcome home reception for soldiers. I think that touches a lot of us.

This is by no means an exhaustive list of how to charge your scenes with emotion, but it’s a start. I challenge you to go through your manuscript and find every place you’re showing emotions through physical reactions. See where you can use description, thoughts, actions, and dialog (another form of action) to evoke that emotion instead. You probably won’t be able to rid your manuscript of every tear, but maybe if your characters cry less, your readers will cry more.

DSC_8915-25ed                    robin_highres

Finding Amanda links

My website: http://robinpatchen.com/

Robin’s Red Pen: https://robinsredpen.wordpress.com/

Amazon:  http://www.amazon.com/Finding-Amanda-inspirational-Robin-Patchen-ebook/dp/B00VN0STLI/ref=sr_1_3?ie=UTF8&qid=1428171089&sr=8-3&keywords=robin+patchen

Thank you, Robin, for an excellent article. If you are also grateful for Robin and her work, please share this article with other writers who could get good use from it. And be sure to Comment in the section below for anything you wish to add. Again, congratulations to Robin on her release of Finding Amanda and we wish her the best of success with it.


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The Superfluous Man In Russian Literature


 This is a subject I wrote on in the past, but I want to revisit this topic because my next novel is going to be my limited effort to recreate this type of character. My novels are typically about a person who struggles between what he wants to do and what he ought to do. My next project will be about someone who fails to make the right decision and chooses what he wants to do.

Russian literature of the mid-1800s was typified by a character type known as the Superfluous Man. Russian culture and politics were then such that this Superfluous Man was an ideal form in describing the shortcomings of Russian society. And it was these realities that he exemplifies against which the soon to be coming Revolution would occur. It is possible that the Superfluous Man fed into this general dissatisfaction of the early 20th century Bolsheviks.

The Superfluous Man was based upon the Byronic hero, like Childe Harold or Don Juan. The Superfluous Man is just a general type, and while there is variety between literary characters labeled as such, just as there is variety between the code heroes of Hemingway, like Robert Jordan, Henry Morgan, or Nick Adams, there are some consistent generalities.

  • He is usually a talented person born into wealth, sometimes royalty.
  • He does not fit into society and who disregards social norms.
  • He exhibits cynicism and existential angst.
  • He indulges in vices, such as romantic affairs, gambling, and dueling.

The term came from a novella by Ivan Turgenev, The Diary Of A Superfluous Man. In it a wasteful man chronicles his last few days. One of the more prominent examples is Alexander Pushkin’s Eugene Onegin, from which Tchaikovsky composed his greatest opera. Mikhail Lermontov’s A Hero Of Our Time is series of five short fiction pieces, and is another popular work in this idiom. Later examples include Alexander Herzen’s Beltov and Ivan Goncharov’s Oblomov.

The Superfluous Man is more than just the idle rich. He often ruins the lives of people around him just as he ruins his own. The Superfluous Man is really a good, old-fashioned morality tale. We, as both writers and readers, and better served in knowing these aspects of literature. I am challenging myself, and you fellow writers as well, to try to create a short piece of fiction with an American main character who would be called a Superfluous Man. You may compose a masterpiece, or you may stumble across an interesting exercise. Either way, such efforts would not be – dare I say – superfluous.

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Dealing With A Negative Book Review: Part Two


Let’s face it, there is a marked difference between someone telling you personally that they did not care for something you wrote and finding a negative book review in print for everyone to see. It can be quite rattling. But like it or not, life goes on. As Creative Writers we need to know the appropriate means of dealing with negative reviews.

It’s Not Just Business, It Is Personal

You may recall the scene from The Godfather, when Tom tells Sonny that the failed hit put out on their father was business and it wasn’t personal. Yet when a Book Reviewer assassinates one of our novels, they may not mean anything personal about it, but as authors we take it as personal. There’s a simple reason for that – it is personal.

I’m not saying that any Book Critic has it out for any author by posting a negative book review. But as Creative Writers who are passionate about our craft, when anyone so publicly criticizes our art, something we have poured our heart and passion into, we will take it personally. It’s like when a parent hears something bad about one of their children, it hurts badly.

There’s Something To Learn

Even though a negative Book Review may sting, remember that no one has it out for you. It’s not personal, it’s just business, as much as it may not seem that way. As authors we may love what we write, but we are always learning. No one is perfect and we can always improve. In this Book Reviews can help us, both the positive as well as the negative ones. In fact, we may learn more from negative Book Reviews than positive because our flaws are exposed.

If someone criticizes the flow of your story or the arrangement of your plot, maybe that is something you need to improve upon. Possibly someone doesn’t like how you lay out dialogue or your choices for characters’s voices. Maybe you didn’t know of these flaws, but now you do because of a negative Book Review. There’s always something to learn.

How To Console

If the get a bad review, the worst advice is “just get over it,” “move on,” or, “that’s just one person’s opinion.” You don’t deal with a negative Book Review by ignoring it. You read the criticism as one eager to learn and improve. And as hard as it may be, try to keep yourself distant from the critique. It is so easy to get mad and take it personally. Just don’t do it.

Give the Book Reviewer the benefit of the doubt that they have everyone’s best interest at heart, both the readers but also you as an author. You may in the end disagree with someone’s assessment and evaluation, but first you need to fairly read what they have to say. You just may learn something and come out on the other end of things a better Creative Writer. Be thankful for negative Book Reviews.

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Dealing With A Negative Book Review: Part One


 Novelists dare a danger few could stomach. They put themselves out there with no protection in the middle of a field with sharp rocks. And sometimes a person will pick up one of those rocks and throw it. And it hurts.

We are dependent upon good word-of-mouth to create a buzz for our books. But the same thing that can help us can hurt us: bad word-of-mouth. And yet, we as writers are out of control about what people say and write about our work.

One of the sharp rocks that can do the most damage is a poor book review. And more than to our hoped for ground swell, it can do great harm to our fragile psyche as an author. And recovery from such can be arduous.

It’s Not Just One Person’s Opinion

Maybe the worst advice you can give someone who has been given a poor review of his novel is “Don’t worry about it because it’s just one person’s opinion.” Authors know how false this is. A person who reviews books is not like some nobody from nowhere who scribbles a two sentence review on Amazon or Goodreads. As writers we love these, but they do not carry the heft of someone who puts themselves out there as a Book Reviewer.

The Book Critic comes to conclusions, but it’s more than just an opinion worth no more or less than anyone else’s. Book Reviewers apply a certain criteria for judging a book. They do more than apply a surface reading. And even though their review may be subjective, it is much heavier than just one person’s opinion.

Author’s need to keep this in mind. Anyone Creative Writer who dismisses a poor review just because it’s one person’s opinion will accomplish no more than sweeping the problem under the rug. Writers cannot afford to have their heads in the sand when it comes to their writings and what readers think, especially Book Critics. Dismissing them and their review fails to address what needs to be addressed.

One Becomes Many

Book Critics are credible, like it or not. One review from a Book Critic can have as much impact as a dozen reviews on Amazon from casual book readers. The review of a Book Critic can never be dismissed as one person’s opinion because their one opinion will like become the opinions of several of not many.

The best thing we can do is write and keep on writing and always do the best we can and continually improve. We need to give our readers the best product we can string up, but we also need to do our best knowing Book Critics may get their hands on it, as well.

Criticism & Literary Preferences

There are several genres and many styles of writing and a multitude of preferences. Sometimes a Book Critic may read a very well written novel, but it’s simply not in their wheelhouse. Nothing can be done about that because, well, to put it politely, there’s no accounting for taste.

I write Literary Fiction. If there is a Book Reviewer who does not read Literary Fiction, there’s a very good chance they may not give anything of mine a good review. For example, my Literary fiction would never include any shiny vampires, teenaged wizards, or hunky and brooding werewolves. And if I were a Book Critic, I would probably not give a good review to anything written with these, even though they are all quite popular now.

Keep in mind that all of the greats have been panned at one time or another. The Great Gatsby was dismissed by many in its day. Led Zeppelin never had a critically acclaimed album and only one top ten single hit. Even Shakespeare had those who hated his plays. Maybe the Book Reviewer who gave a poor review to your book just doesn’t get you or your writing. If someone pans your novel in a Book Review, it just may be that what you write is not their personal preference for reading.

I’ll have more to say on this in my next post. This is hardly all that could be said on the matter of dealing with negative book reviews. I hope this is a start.

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What “Writers Write Every Day” Means


Every Creative Writer has heard the law that “Writers Write Everyday” maybe as much as we’ve heard “Show Me, Don’t Tell Me.” And at the beginning of the year I heard of authors tell me about their New Year’s Resolutions that always include one to write a certain number of words a day.

This leaves the impression that Creative Writers must come with fresh original first draft content every day. This is not true, and in fact it’s not even possible. We write every day in that we are in the business of writing constantly. A great deal of that involves writing, to be sure, but not always.

At The Keyboard

I’m working on the rough draft of my fifth novel, Bloodhound. I’ll certainly fill everyone in when it’s available. But I’m far from that now. If I’m a Creative Writer, then I need to put a lot time into completing this first draft. That means writing every day. But some days I don’t write.

Sometimes it’s the cares of life that take up time that day, but sometimes it’s because I need to let the next scene cook inside of me a bit longer before I put it down. Even thinking about what to write is writing.

Long before I begin page one I outline my chapters and fill in everything about the characters. For example, when I compete in NaNowriMo I usually begin outlining in June or July in order to be ready by November. This is writing as much as drafting.

And then there are the many edits our drafts go through after we’ve set down “The End.” Our manuscripts go through several revisions before we allow the story to see the light of day. Editing is writing, too.

Away From The Keyboard

As authors we know that our best ideas often come when we are away from our laptops. I used to travel with a small pad and write everything down that came into my brain. Now I use the notepad on my phone. This twig-gathering will one day find itself into a fine nest of a tale. This is writing, as well.

And there is something to be said for the work that goes into writing that comes from stillness. We don’t sit down and throw out a marvelous book without giving it a bit of thought. We meditate on our ideas before we even write anything down, even on a scrap paper.

Ernest Hemingway said that he never emptied the well. He left a little bit of what we was working on undone. That way he would always at least something to write the next day. But also, he let this little bit ferment sub-consciously. As he carried out the remainder of the day it would grow in the back on his head, and as he slept it would really develop, so the next day he had plenty to write about.

And I read that Salvador Dali would sit in a chair and relax as much as he could and think about a certain project. He would hold his keys in his hands over the arm rest. He would often grow drowsy and start to go to sleep. But when he did he would drop the keys and the sound would wake him up. That way he could remember as much as possible of what was in his mind as he entered the sleep/dream stage in his mind. I’ve tried that with some interesting results. All types of thinking about writing, even sub-consciously, is writing.

We as Creative Writers can feel derelict if we do not sit down and write new words every day. From this grows a sense of shame, and all negative feelings about ourselves as authors only damage our productivity. We do a lot of things every day that contribute to the writing process, and in this we write every day. Remember that and feel good about how much you actually get done.


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Love’s Labour Found

Love’s Labour Found is more than Shakespeare’s missing 38th play, it is the perfect description for a Creative Writer’s relationship with his own work. I know that I wrote an article called “Passion Is Overrated” some time ago, and that people have told me how they disagree, both on this blogsite and in conversations, but I do realize the necessary role of passion in Creative Writing.

The Role Of Passion

Arthur Schopenhauer wrote that we cannot want what we want. In other words, we have no control over what we desire from our own lives. I disagree. We can choose to want certain things. Not only that, but a man far wiser than Schopenhauer also said that a person is going to do what a person wants to do. This sage insight was my dad’s.

You cannot be a Creative Writer unless you have a Passion for it. My article on Passion being overrated emphasized that Commitment and Dedication means more to the career of a Writer than Passion. But also, the post argued that our Passion feeds into our Commitment, and our Commitment feeds into our Passion.

As Creative Writers, we share anxiety and tension over our stories, but we have more than that in common. Creative Writers are excited about every bit of prose we write. We write with a sense of joy. We feel a sense of accomplishment and even achievement when we write. This is not just when we finish a draft of a novel, but when we’ve had a good day of writing, or when we have written that rare perfect sentence. Being passionate about writing means we obtain a sense of fulfillment by writing as well as we can. We all have other things in our lives, such as families and jobs, and these add to our sense of personal wholeness, but we know that our authorship greatly contributes to who we truly are.

Passion Fuels Your Writing

While it may be your Commitment to Creative Writing that makes you sit and write even when you don’t want to write, when you feel uninspired, and you feel overwhelmed, it is your Passion for Writing fuels your Writing. This helps you be in a place where you want to write, where you feel inspired, where you feel centered. Passion can do this because you not only do what you want to do, but you do it as well as you can. You are careful to try your hardest because it means so much to you.

Our Passion for Creative Writing is much more than being excited over writing prose. We each have our own individual Passions, and these thing will be a part of our Writing, as well. Hemingway was passionate about baseball, boxing, and bull fighting. It is no shock that these will be in his stories. You have all three in The Sun Also Rises. This involves more than using our hobbies in our composition, but also the ideas we are passionate about. Steinbeck was devoted to the idea of a shared consciousness and the oversoul. Thus, we see examples of this in his stories. I think this is the most clear in The Grape Of Wrath, where Ma Joad learns to care for people beyond her family. It’s one thing to be passionate about Writing, but authors also need to see how we can take our individual Passions and make them a part of our industry.

We know that Shakespeare never wrote Love’s Labour Found. Still, every play and poem he wrote was a manifestation of finding his Passion for writing. Everything he wrote was his Love’s Labour Found. It’s the same for all of us Creative Writers who live and work today. In this we share something important with Shakespeare, and for that matter, with Joyce, Milton, Homer, Tolstoy, and so many others, we all share a Passion for the fine art of Creative Writing, and that is a wonderful thing to love.

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Top Ten Best Articles of 2014

What better way to end the year than with a year in review type of post? And you know I like Top Ten lists, so I’m giving you my favorite posts for the year. I am not putting down anything from an article series. I had a few of those this year, such as an analysis of the movie The Natural, my novel Siciliana, and my favorite, on Anton Chekhov. I also left of any other Top Ten lists. If you missed any of these, I’m including a link to the articles.

10 “You Don’t Have To Waddle Any More” (Jan 27) – You are capable of much more than you give yourself credit (https://nealabbott.wordpress.com/2014/01/27/you-dont-have-to-waddle-any-more/)

9 “The Problems With Adverbs” (Jul 15) – The problem with adverbs is when to use them and when not to use them (https://nealabbott.wordpress.com/2014/07/15/the-problem-with-adverbs/)

8 “We Are All Lil Engines” (Apr 1) – Self-Doubt will kill any accomplishments you may achieve (https://nealabbott.wordpress.com/2014/04/01/we-are-all-lil-engines/)

7 “How To Create Interesting Characters” (Jan 14) – All truly interesting literary characters share certain things in common (https://nealabbott.wordpress.com/2014/01/14/how-to-create-interesting-characters/)

6 “How To Insure Your Writing Is Creative” (Apr 14) – In addition to interesting characters, we need to learn how to tell an interesting story (https://nealabbott.wordpress.com/2014/04/14/how-to-ensure-you-writing-is-creative/)

5 “Your Protagonist’s Needs” (Feb 24) – All of our heroes have certain needs that we need to provide (https://nealabbott.wordpress.com/2014/02/24/your-protagonists-needs/)

4 “Why Dogs Would Make The Best Novelists” (Jan 6) – Dogs are so great at everything else, why not novel writing? (https://nealabbott.wordpress.com/2014/01/06/why-dogs-would-make-the-best-novelists-3/)

3 “Deus Ex Machina, Or, Wouldn’t This Be A Good Time For A Piece Of Rhubarb Pie?” (May 26) – There is a right way and the wrong way to rescue our main characters at the end of our story (https://nealabbott.wordpress.com/2014/05/26/deus-ex-machina-or-wouldnt-this-be-a-good-time-for-a-piece-of-rhubarb-pie/)

2 “What Criminal Minds Has Taught Me About Creative Writing” (Apr 21) – Watching this great crime drama on television helped me as an author (https://nealabbott.wordpress.com/2014/04/21/what-criminal-minds-taught-me-about-creative-writing/)

1 “The Mount Rushmore Of Literature” (Jun 9) – What writers and which books deserve this honor? (https://nealabbott.wordpress.com/2014/06/09/the-mount-rushmore-of-literature/)

Did I leave anything out? What would you have added or omitted? Please share this article with others writers. I hope you enjoyed reading A WORD FITLY SPOKEN in 2014, and I look forward to blazing a new trail of words and stories with you next year.

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Film Analysis of The Natural – Part Four: The Styles Of Acting

Plenty can and has been said about what makes The Natural special behind the camera, but there would be no film without the actors in front of the camera. Actors are sometimes classified by their acting style. There are times when that has more to do with the movie than the actor’s training, but more often than not, a given actor sticks to what suits them.

There are three styles of acting: Stylized, Realistic, and Method. Stylized acting if often over the top and unrealistic, but the role or the movie calls for acting that draws attention to itself. Almost anything by the Marx Brothers or the Stooges would follow this style. Realistic style strives for natural and realistic portrayals of characters, just as the name implies. Method acting is a type or approach to acting based on searching the actor’s own emotions and experiences to find the personal motivation for the role.

Robert Redford as Roy Hobbs

For all of his career, Redford was a realistic actor. His approach in The Natural is likewise realistic. This approach can be seen in his still and unexpressive nature. Or said better, very expressive with the smallest of gestures or facial expressions. It’s been said of Redford that he acts with his eyes, which is true for Roy Hobbs. Examples of Redford’s realistic style could be seen in other well-known roles of his, such as Jay Gatsby in The Great Gatsby, Butch Cassidy in Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid, and John “Kelly” Hooker in The Sting.

Glenn Close as Iris Gaines

As the love interest of Roy Hobbs, Glenn Close plays Iris Gaines as she normally does as a realistic actor. While her co-star in The Natural is another realistic actor, Close has acted around Method actors for the greatest part of her career. But she like Redford was able to keep herself from giving in to the histrionics and often overly emotional expression common to the Method hysteria that ruined so many movies in the 70s when Method dominated Los Angeles and New York.

Wilford Brimley as Pop Fisher

Unlike his co-stars, Wilford Brimley trusted in his Method acting background to perform Pop Fisher in The Natural. One can see the difference between his emotionally based interpretation of Fisher in contrast to Hobbs’s and Gaines’s quiet dynamics. Brimley uses his Method style with more control than others who have rather sloppily misused it. But the role of Pop Fisher required someone with more clear emotions and expressions, as opposed to the smolder in Hobbs.

The Natural is very well acted by everyone in the cast regardless of their style. Their excellence in front of the camera matches the proficiency of all of the roles that went on behind the camera. The result is a classic film superior in both its baseball and mythology.

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Film Analysis Of The Natural – Part Three: The Use Of Sound

Movies are the perfect blend of sight and sound to create something artistic. There is the most obvious sound in the movie, and that’s the actors speaking to each other. There are also the ambient sound of life, which in film is referred to as sound effects. And one of the most memorable aspects of a movie’s sound is the musical sound track recorded for the film.


The most captivating bit of dialogue in The Natural is the conversation between Roy and Iris while Roy is recovering in the hospital. Roy’s biggest flaw is his hubris. He tells Harriet Bird that he wants to be known as the best in the game. He forgot the advice of his father, that even though he has a gift it is not enough. Roy relied too much on himself and was struck down, as any mythical hero guilty of hubris.

There in the hospital, Roy admits his frustration that he will never be known as the greatest to ever play the game. He still hasn’t learned his lesson. Iris chides him for his short-sightedness. She mentions that we have two lives: a young life where we make mistakes and an older life where we learn to live with those mistakes. This definitely describes Roy Hobbs.

Sound Effects

The Natural is filled with sounds from the ballpark. He hear the roar of the crowd, the pop of the ball in the glove, or the crack of the ball off the end of the bat. These are genuine and well done. They add to the fell of honesty in the film even though it is clearly mythology.

Three of the best uses of sound effects have to do with particular home runs. One was the home run in Chicago when Roy shatters the clock in Wrigley Field. The shatter can be heard all throughout the stadium as well as the movie theater. One definitely hears time stop of Roy as he not only ends his slump but reunites with his angel, Iris. Another great home run sound is when Roy breaks the stadium lights in his last at bat that wins the pennant for Pop and end his turbulent relationship with the Judge.

But by far the best sound effect in the movie is the use of lightning. It begins with the lightning that strikes the tree that would late be made into the bat Wonderboy. Lightning strikes at Roy’s first big league at bat just before he knocks the cover off the ball. And finally, lightning strikes just before the final home run that climaxes the movie.


The Natural has a pleasant musical sound track, but nothing I would consider spectacular. To me, the best movie composers are men like Bernard Hermann, Maurice Jaffe, and Enrico Marconi, who were used by directorial greats like Hitchcock, Lean, and Leone, respectively.

But the movie music does its job excellently at the final home run scene. As Roy rounds the bases, our heroic theme escorts him around the bags. We feel the triumph of the moment along with all Knights fans, which we in the audience have become by this point. With no doubt, the sound within The Natural is just as vital as the visual, and both perform excellently is telling a great story.

Movieclip. (October 25, 2012). The Natural (4/8) Movie CLIP – Knock The Cover Off The Ball (1984) HD. [Video file]. Retreived from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tlNLhuxeDJQ

Crackle. (January 21, 2010).The Natural. Roy Hobbs smashes the clock tower at Wrigley Field. Mammoth home run [Video file]. Retrieved from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=I3w0FLxdEKk

Crackle. (June 15, 2011). The Natural – The Final Homerun [Video file]. Retrieved from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gjk3RsytFZg

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