Monday, October 19, 2009

Making characters remarkable

I want to start out my blog today with an apology. I have been having computer difficulties and haven’t been around for the last couple of weeks. I’ve missed a couple of my blog posts and a guest spot with Moonlight, Lace, & Mayhem. I feel so terrible, and I hope everyone can forgive me. 

I’ve been doing a lot of thinking about characters lately. What makes a character special? What about them makes others care enough to want to read about their lives? They can’t just be ordinary, boring characters with ordinary, boring lives. They need to have something extra, something that gives them zing! Who wants to read about someone who lives the same life that they do? Not me, that’s for sure. I want to read about someone extraordinary. I’m not saying that they can’t be average citizens. Of course they can. That makes them someone we can identify with. But, they should still be something just a little more. In some way, they go above and beyond the average. I’m talking about the beautician who dedicates her life to helping cancer patients on chemo feel pretty, even though they’ve lost their hair during treatments. Maybe she uses her talents to style their wigs and apply their makeup. Why does she do it? Maybe her mother lost her life to cancer, and she knew how miserable she was. The point is, she is a remarkable woman, an average woman, yet she goes above and beyond the ordinary.

One of the most popular series right now is the Twilight series by Stephenie Meyer. What makes the series so popular? In my opinion, it’s the characters. But why are the characters so moving? Because they are average citizens that are willing to do or be more. What makes Bella more than ordinary? Maybe it’s the fact that she’s willing to be miserable in order to make sure her mom is happy. Maybe it’s because she’s willing to love the one man who could destroy her. The same goes for Edward. He is willing to risk exposure of his kind to be with the girl he loves. He’s willing to fight his own kind in order to keep her safe. And he’s willing to do this for the one person who’s blood he craves more than any other. To me, that’s extraordinary. 

In every book that rises to bestseller status, there are extraordinary characters. Just imagine Hogwarts without Harry Potter. You couldn’t. It wouldn’t be the same place. It might still be interesting, but I’m sure no where near as interesting as it is now. And what about the Vampire Diaries? What would Elena do if Stefan hadn’t entered her life? 

I know it takes more than just great characters to create a great novel. But, if your characters aren’t great, how can your story be? I want to be able to love them, hate them, cry for them, and grieve for them. If I don’t feel for them, I’ll never remember them. And that, in my opinion, is the most important thing.

What do you think? Do you agree with me, or do you think I’m way off base? I’d love to hear your opinion on the subject. Leave a comment and let me know what you think!


Mark Alders said...

Wonderful post, Sierra!

Having characters who are 3 dimensional is a great start. No character is without his/her flaws, and besides, that's the fun in writing them.

Most of my characters tell me how they want to be written anyway...I just listen and put the words on the paper/screen



Gracen Miller said...

Pfft...there is nothing to forgive, Sierra! None of us are mad at you and we all understand. So, no worries. *huggles*

I must be the only person on the face of the planet that is not smitten with the Twilight or Harry Potter characters. :-/ And to be honest, the person that intrigues me the most in Vampire Diaries is Damon, the evil vampire brother.

But, yes, I agree. I want three-dimensional characters. If they're flat and I can't connect with them in any way, then I'm bored and uninterested.

Great blog today, Sierra! *huggles* Hope your computer settles down for you soon.

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