Kramer bursting through Jerry’s door. Garfield kicking Odie off the table. Michael Scott turning an innocent statement into an innuendo by adding “that’s what she said!”
What do all these things have in common?
They are all arsidities!
What the heck is an arsidity?
- A word I made up.
- The phonetic spelling for the pronunciation of the acronym RCDT: Recurring Character Development Theme. This is a phrase, object, or quirk that bears significance to a certain character or characters, and appears more than once in a single piece of work.
Wait a second, isn’t that called a “motif”?
Yes and no. A motif is a type of arsidity. A motif represents something – for instance, the sound of footsteps in A Tale of Two Cities represents the oncoming troubles of the characters, particularly Carton’s fate. An arsidity doesn’t always represent something, and is not always “important” – it is just a detail that adds depth to your characters and soul to your story. Arsidities help make a story and its characters more lovable, meaningful, charming, or funny.
More examples of arsidities:
The Lord of the Rings (Tolkien) – “my precious”
The Outsiders (Hinton) – “gallant” and “stay gold”
Ocean’s Eleven – Rusty, Brad Pitt’s character, is eating in almost every scene
Silence of the Lambs – Hannibal Lector never blinks
Star Trek – Spock’s famous “Live long and prosper” gesture; Bones’ “Damn it, Jim, I’m a doctor not a [fill in the blank]”
None of these arsidities are vital to the plots of these books, movies, and TV shows, but can you imagine them without their arsidities? What a dull world it would be!
Do you use arsidities in your novel? How have they enhanced your character development, world building, and voice?