Characterisation – The Dinkley

I recently had a conversation with my partner about Scooby Doo, and it snowballed into a discussion about what characters help make good drama, either on paper or on screen. The discussion started because we’re both fans of Scooby Doo, but there have been several series where it’s either been just Shaggy and Scooby or <shudders> Scrappy Doo too. These series have never gone on for too long and, despite repeatedly trying to get a good formula for a Shaggy and Scooby-only show, the studios have always reverted to series based on the whole Scooby gang.

Why? … and is this reason true of drama in general?

This is where the concept of the Dinkley comes in. Velma Dinkly, chirpy and geeky, friendly and loyal, we suggested, was actually at the heart of Scooby’s success. The other characters are great, and Scooby and Shaggy are firm favourites and important parts of the show, but it’s actually Velma that makes the show work.

She’s preemintently competent and is always better at something important than any other character in the show. She’s courageous and personally very loyal. Velma’s understated though. She won’t make a point of being the smartest and, though she can be attractive, she never gets what she wants by playing on her brains or looks. It’s her brains and heart that are important though.

Looking at drama in a wider sense, it’s easy to see who the Dinkley is in other series. Scully from the X Files, Sam Carter from Star Gate, Willow from Buffy – it’s easy to find a Dinkley. The character is usually female, but not always. How the other characters relate to the Dinkley often helps to drive the drama, providing a focal point for revelations and discoveries, providing that crucial piece of evidence or information that only they can get. They’ll always do what’s right, we’re screwed when they can’t do their job (and so the drama ramps up)  … and when the Dinkley is injured the other characters rally round, and someone will have hell to pay.

So, remember the Dinkley. Quite often our stories would be nothing without them.

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