In following suit from yesterday and the day before, I’m posting my writing exercise for the day. In this exercise, the prompt from Wesleyan Univ.’s course on characterization was to pick two well-known characters, identify who they are and what they want, and then create a scene between them and a new, third character. The idea was to show and not to tell what they were experiencing and who they were (read: what they wanted or needed) in a compact, flash-drafted scene.
Expect imperfection, but open to feedback, as always!
Inspired by characters from the film The Dark Knight (2008)
Batman (aka Bruce Wayne) is out to stop crime and restore order to the city of Gotham, continually seeking vengeance against evildoers. Criminals and unrest in the city represent the harm done to him when criminals murdered his parents in Bruce’s youth. He had to grow up immediately, and since that time, he’s sought to fix the damage done by righting wrongs in Gotham. The Joker, on the other hand, is in it for chaos. He’s Batman’s arch-nemesis because he’s his antithesis, seeking to sow anarchy and cause destruction. No one reacts to the Joker as strongly or capably as Batman, and no one creates such opportunity to exact vengeance as does Joker, so Joker and Batman need one another.
Third (new) character: Francine, an aged psychoanalyst, wants to find out what’s really driving Joker and Batman to do what they do. She thinks she can stop some of the chaos in the city by helping these two to resolve their personal and interpersonal issues.
A Scene (360ish words):
Francine turns to the window, facing away from Wayne and Joker for the first time during their session today. She exhales slowly. She’d never had this problem before meeting these two, which she did only on behalf of her client, the city of Gotham. It had become difficult to maintain a stern and concerned look through their hour-long meetings.
Dropping her guard for a moment, she stares at the streets below, silenced by thick glass. For once unaware of her own body language, she folds her arms, grasping her own elbows. She begins tapping a finger against her right forearm. She holds her shoulders in a kind of permanent forward hunch, a symptom of her years of carrying the emotional weight of the staggering admissions she was always able to pry from her court-appointed clients.
She breathes in deeply and turns to face the sparring couple.
“Just tell us, sir, your name. Or at least why you haven’t revealed it.” Francine spoke at a calming tempo. “You’re caught. Let’s be honest with ourselves. Here you are -” she gestures to him, top-to-bottom – “chained to a chair that’s chained to the floor. You don’t have anything left to lose.” The Joker grinned broadly.
“That’s what you think, but you don’t understand me. He -” he nods toward Bruce Wayne – “understands. A name and a title are two different things. “No one ever called me by my name. Not since my mother.” He winced.
“But I’ve been given a title. I am ‘Joker’ now – or ‘The Joker’ to the papers. You don’t need to know my name, and I make my own rules, wherever I find myself.”
Bruce Wayne, lying back on a couch, hands at his side and rigid as stone, speaks: “Can I sit up now? This is ridiculous. I’m trained in the science of psychology. I can handle this myself.”
“Mr. Wayne, if you wish to remain in the city’s service, whatever your personal purposes, we’re going to do things my way. And until you get honest with me and with – er, Joker – here, you’re not going anywhere.”
Wayne grunts. Joker chuckles.
“You see?” The Joker offers. “We’re all playing our parts. This is lovely.”