Monday, April 22, 2013

“What is Your Center?”

Rise of the Guardians

This question was asked by North (Santa) of the mischievous Jack Frost in Rise of the Guardians. (Not to be confused with Legend of the Guardians, a movie about owls. I’m hoping I, myself, can get it straight after writing this article!) According to North, a person’s center is what makes them eligible as a guardian of children. He demonstrates to Jack what his own center is. He grabs a nesting doll and Jack opens it to reveal all the different facets that make up the man, North. With each doll, Santa is:

  • Intimidating
  • Jolly
  • Mysterious
  • Fearless
  • Caring

In the last tiny doll, we see a baby with huge blue eyes. This, according to North, is Wonder. He dances around the room explaining that he has big eyes full of wonder. Eyes that only see the wonder in everything. Wonder is what he puts in children—what makes him a guardian.

You can see this scene by clicking here

The other guardians' centers are:

  • Easter bunny – Hope
  • Tooth fairy – Memories
  • Sandman – Dreams 

Throughout the movie we watch as Jack discovers himself. He starts out as a mischievous ice imp who thinks a Snow Day is the best thing ever, and is jealous that children believe in Santa, the Easter Bunny, Sandman, and the Tooth Fairy—even the evil Boogie Man—but not in him. They look right through him; he is invisible to them because they do not believe.

His journey is to find out who he is. Through a memory of his tooth, (okay, even I thought this was a stretch, but if you’ve seen the movie, this makes sense,) he realizes he was a human boy once. He loved his family, particularly his little sister. One day when they were skating on the ice, they hit a thin patch that starts to crack under her feet. She was petrified with fear. Jack encouraged his sister by telling her that getting off the ice would be just like playing hop scotch. This helped her to move and he was able to reach out with the stick he’d been playing with and fling her to safety. However, his selfless act put him in danger and he fell through the ice.

Fast-forward through the rest of the movie where Pitch, the Boogie Man, is turning all the children’s dreams into nightmares and snuffing out their belief in the guardians. We come to the scene where it finally dawns on Jack what his center is. Pitch has him, the guardians, and Jamie, the last boy on earth to believe in the guardians, boxed into an alley. As Pitch advances to finish off his mission, Jack assures Jamie that everything will be okay. Then he remembers how he had used a game for his sister to save her from falling through the ice. He creates a snowball in his hand and throws it in Pitch’s face mid-threat. This shocks Pitch and makes everyone start to laugh. Jack knows now that he is the guardian of Fun. He rallies the other children and they defeat Pitch with a good, old-fashioned snowball fight. Even the Boogey Man is no match for a child intent on having fun.

Writer Application

How can we find the “center” of our characters? If you search out the center, you will find who they are at the core of their being, and this in turn will help them discover what their own strengths are. You might argue that Jack’s center is heroism, but all of the guardians have that—yet each one has their own unique center.

The center of a character’s being can help you determine who they are. Michael Hague, story and script consultant, calls this their essence. To determine their essence, you must also determine their identity. On his Story Mastery website, (which I highly recommend,)  Hague has a list of questions to ask of your characters. Number twelve and thirteen on that list are:

What is the hero’s identity – what protective persona keeps the hero from facing and overcoming their emotional fear?

What is the hero’s essence or truth? Who would he be if his identity was stripped away? In other words, who does he have the potential to become, if he’s courageous enough?

Jack’s identity is his mischievousness. He’s been having “fun” for three hundred years, often at other’s expense. This is what he uses to protect his true essence.

In the end, we see Jack’s essence is his ability to protect the children by removing their fears through fun and games. This is who Jack Frost is. The guardian of Fun.

Once he embraces his true center, the children can see him now, and he is no longer alone.

Following Jack’s Lead…

Something Fun!

If you want to know what your center is, there’s a fun quiz at Quizilla. My center, according to the above quiz is…drumroll…


You are something else altogether! Your center is Imagination! This is a result that is very rare and difficult to have because it is a balance of all the other centers: Fun, Memories, Wonder, Hope, and Dreams. You cannot have Imagination without these combined! You are strange and mysterious, and very wise. Others don't always understand you or your motives, but in the end, you are usually right. You prefer to fight for the right cause, rather than the easiest and you defend the imaginations of children.

Pretty cool for a writer! Don’t you agree? To see what I look like as a guardian click here. I am beautiful!