With characters of a book, of course! Although, our topic today couldn’t have come at a better time as my hubby and me will be celebrating our tenth anniversary. More on that later this week. 🙂
What do you love about reading? The adventure, swashbuckling action, mystery, suspense, drama, experiencing a different place and time, the poetic prose? But would any of that really matter if we didn’t love the characters?
The cast of characters from the Harry Potter novels are rich and varied, but Hagrid and Professor Dumbledore are my favorites. Another character that really struck a chord with me is Smith Delaney from Blaggard’s Moon. At first, we really don’t know anything about this sailor strapped to a post, in the middle of a pond, awaiting his execution by sea monkeys. Yes, you read that right. Vicious sea monkeys that will “strip away a man’s meat to get at his bones, without bothering to kill him first.”
But why do we love these characters?
In The Art of War for Writers, James Scott Bell suggests that great lead characters need to have guts, mental acuity, and sex appeal. I’m sure we love those kinds of characters, but I don’t know if that completely rings true for me. I mean, Hagrid isn’t exactly sexy…but we won’t go there. Of course, Bell is talking about lead characters and I do love the trio: Harry, Hermione and Ron, but not for their sex appeal either. I wonder if Bell’s suggestions pertains to adult books.
I’m beginning to wonder if it isn’t just about the lead character, but the cast of characters and how they interact. It’s like eating a yummy salad that combines a variety of different items but comes together in an explosion of flavor in your mouth. You can eat the lettuce, the tomatoes, purple onion, blue cheese crumbles, fresh pear all separately and it would taste okay, but toss it all together with poppy seed dressing and YUM!
Okay back to books…One thing Bell does mention is that the characters should care about others, not just themselves. I think this speaks volumes. Hagrid was fiercely loyal to Dumbledore, and he had a big heart. He also reminds me a little of an aunt I adored as a kid. 🙂 Smith Delaney cared enough for for another that he disobeyed orders, which led him to his post in the pond. Bell goes into more detail about what he thinks a great Lead character needs and gives us a few pointers on what might helps us bring those characteristics out and make us fall in love with them. Some of which we’ll get to touch on later as we continue our study. If you haven’t checked out The Art of War for Writers yet, I highly recommend it.
So what say you? Do you agree or disagree with Bell’s suggestions? Who are your favorite characters and why do you love them? Hope you have a great week!