Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Character Profiles: YOUR VIEW POINT

We sit in our favorite place with a book in order to escape for a bit from our every day routine.

Settings transport us to new regions. Plot pumps our adrenaline. But there’s one main area in storytelling where the writer has that opportunity to bond a reader with his/her tale.

And that is with the character.

Without the bonding effect, there is no reason why a reader would care less what happens to that character.

Although character and plot do go hand in hand to make for a stronger read, it’s what a writer sketches as the character’s profile that will make a lasting impression on readers.

For example, for me I bonded with Harry Potter almost instantly because I felt sorry for him. Here he was, forced to live with relatives who didn’t care for him. A cousin who wasted no extra energy to come up with ways to get Harry into trouble. The overall immediate sketch, without knowing anything else that would come down the pipeline, moved me to continue reading to find out what will become of this child. 

Although his situation didn’t remotely remind me of my own childhood, it did bring up ‘bullying’ to the surface, which I’m sure many readers have had direct contact with at some point in their lives. Writers pen stories to bring some sort of a realistic backdrop in some small way that may initiate an emotion in a reader that will be long lasting.

Memorable characters should be sculpted to have their own identity apart from the secondary characters. As well, to give them that ‘realistic’ edge so a reader can identify with them. 

For example, let’s take John Travolta’s character in Grease, Danny. Here’s a boy who has two sides to him: tough and tender. When he’s with his gang he’s macho Danny. When he’s with Sandy, he’s tender Danny. When these two sides meet, Danny is conflicted and torn as to which side should come out and play. I am sure many readers, men and women alike, would be able to identify with his dilemma. 

So regardless what the fictional genre is, in my opinion, the writer’s passionate embrace to make sure his/her character resonates across the pages is a key factor that will make the difference whether the reader will leave with a long lasting impression, or simply read and forget the next day.


Do you agree that a fictional character is key to any book?

What book characters have left an impression on you, and why?


Suzanne de Montigny said...

Okay, in Stuart West's Tex the Witch Boy, I immediately related to Tex because he was bullied and because his dad was in a wheelchair. He had all these problems, yet he had a good heart, accepting anyone into his posse.

anne stenhouse said...

Yes, of course, fiction is about character. I always find it hard to say which characters stick with me because, being an avid reader, I've known so many, I write historical romance, but one leading heroine whose plea I can still hear years later was in a contemporary by Emma Darcy called Don't Play Games. The character was called Mary Kathleen and I've just taken it off my 'keepers' shelf to have a look through. That might be today's word count down the drain!

Susan Royal said...

One character who comes to mind is Claire from Diana Gabaldon's series, Outlander. I felt an immediate rapport with her because she was feisty, headstrong and witty. I also liked her taste in men...

JoanCurtis said...

My books are all about characters.

Like Anne, it's hard for me to pick a single character in a book, but one does come to mind. Lee Smith's Ivy Rowe in Fair and Tender Ladies was a poor child who grew up in Appalachia. With no education she could never get out of her hapless environment. I immediately related to her (even though I had none of her life experiences). I could empathize with her plight and pulled for her as she emerged from her world of ignorance and poverty.

In a series book, like The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, the two main characters caught my interest. Who could identify with Lisbeth? Nonetheless she evoked empathy. The struggle between Lisbeth and Mikael had the reader pulling for both. Indeed with a series the characters have to be especially strong. The last book in that series --The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet's Nest--was not terribly good, but I kept reading because of the characters and BTW, I'd read a fourth, fifth and sixth if the writer had not died!

Gina Gao said...

For me I've always connected to Hermione Granger. I don't know why, but it feels like we are alike in some way.

J.Q. Rose said...

I connected with Kay Driscoll in the Ginseng Conspiracy because her life was like much like mine living in a small town. Characters are the life of the story in my mind.