Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Do you like them?

Creating great protagonist characters is fine art. They have to be likeable and relatable. You want them to have flaws, but not too many. They have to grow and learn throughout the book and not remain static. It’s a tough order.

Last weekend I watched two movies. Both were romantic dramas with tragic ends.

The first one was brilliant. The characters were likeable, but at the same time flawed. They made mistakes, had arguments, and were a little manipulative. When they got together I was excited when tragedy befell them I bawled my eyes out.

The second movie the characters were somewhat likeable. The male was too static. He was nice throughout the movie, never judgmental and didn’t really show any emotion. The girl was selfish and spoiled. When they finally did get together I wasn’t excited for them. I didn’t feel any empathy after they split up. I didn’t shed one tear.

It was amazing the difference and it was a good lesson for me to try and develop characters that the reader will root for, have empathy, and most importantly want to keep reading about them.

By the way Brit had great posts about character last week go check them out.

14 comments:

Lazy Writer said...

I agree. We have to have characters that the reader cares about. They won't want to keep reading if they couldn't care less about what happens to the characters.

Brit said...

One thing for me is - we as humans are flawed. No one is perfect. So when the "ideal" man or woman is written, sometimes it is too good to be true, therefore false and I don't get involved in it. It isn't inspiring at all.

For me to see someone - real, concrete, flaws and all, someone I can imagine here in the real world - I connect. I get involved. I'm inspired. And that is when I cry. That is when I get angry. That is when I laugh.

Otherwise, I'm aware I'm just reading a book that isn't real and basically go through the motions of reading the way the author did writing.

I want my characters - the good ones and the bad ones - to have complexity.

Kasie West said...

So true. And that's the fine line we walk in creating characters. They can't be too perfect, they can't be too flawed. Sigh. I think I'm going back to my day job. This one is hard. :) Man, I wish it was that easy to walk away. I'm addicted unfortunately.

Patti said...

Susan: Caring is the ultimate key or else why keep reading.

Brit: I agree, there's a lot of perfect, gorgeous, stunning descriptions going on. I'm not seeing a whole lot of flaws in appearance anyway.

Kasie: It's too bad we're all addicted. I've tried walking away even for a while and it pulls me back in.

JKB said...

I'm with Brit. The best characters have flaws, and how they deal with those flaws determine how the book ends and how much I like it.

Patti said...

Jen: I agree. If they start off perfect, where do they go from there.

Amber Lynae said...

This is so true. I just read a book, and I read the whole thing, but I never really felt the book. I kept waiting for me to connect with the characters and it just couldn't happen. It made the story more shallow for me.

Patti said...

amber: I read a book where the characters were great at the beginning and then the story turned to the author showing how much research she had done. The story and characters completely disappeared.

Jenn Johansson said...

Yeah, if the characters aren't worth caring about, then I couldn't care less what happens to them.

Patti said...

Jenn: There's so little time in this world to spend on bad characters

Robyn Campbell said...

I want to have characters that the reader cares about. And that the reader can relate to. I think I've done that with my MG novel.

Someone told me they cried at the end of my MG novel. That was WONDERFUL. It felt good knowing I had done what I set out to do with my characters.

I'll check out that post you recommended. Great post btw. :)

Patti said...

Robyn: That's the absolute best compliment ever. When someone feels emotion when they read your book.

jenniferneri said...

Oh yes, I will finish a book with terrible writing and crappy plot if I like the characters.

Patti said...

Jennifer: If you don't have good characters it's hard to get invested in a story.