Today I want to talk about characters because most of all, it’s what drives us to love, hate, despise, or cherish a book or movie.
Writing a good character is hard, writing a great character with massive flaws that is still likable is almost impossible. There are so many characters in random books, movies, TV shows that I love! Many more that I completely hate. The best ones are characters that I hate to love, and love to hate. A well written villain isn’t just cruel and mean for no purpose, there has to be a reason behind their crude tendencies. Same goes for the Protagonist of the story, they have to be as lovable as much as they are frustrating. I feel that too good of a character annoys me, but a character with a blind sense of hatred and pure hate just doesn’t sell it anymore for me. I need to see a reason, I need background, I need there to be purpose.
One thing my beta readers have said to me over and over again while I am working on my book is, “Does this portion have a purpose. Is there a reason that you are saying this? If there is no actual reason, remove it.” I think the same philosophy should apply to characters. There needs to be a reason. Why did they just decide to do Plot Point A? Because when they were younger plot point B lead them to plot point A and here we are! Sometimes that will work, but other times we need a little more “omphf” factor.
My absolute favorite evil character has to be Voldemort. I know I know…”Jessica, enough with the Harry Potter!” I am telling you, I can’t stop obsessing over that series because it was so VERY well written. There was a hefty amount of character development that even as a reader you don’t full see unless you read the books several times. I think even more so, there is development of characters with details that the reader will never know unless the author decides to share them elsewhere. Voldemort was a really well structured character though, it hit all the markers of being a great villain. He is established as a stricking terror in all that are against him, he has a deep and rich back history, his character builds and fleshes out in entirety through out the series and the reasoning behind his nature is peppered through out multiple characters perspectives. It was all in all very well done. He also has very human moments, very reactive emotional moments that force the reader and viewer to see that the man himself is flawed no matter how powerful he is. It’s truly a brilliantly written character.
My favorite hero character is more of the optimistic character than really a hero. The main person he saves is himself, but the structure of the character again is captured so eloquently. Now I don’t want to give too much away as the movie is just about to be released, but I have to say that Mark Watney in “The Martian” is probably one of my all time favorite hero characters. The guy is just too amazing to be real. Not only does he have the best optimistic attitude, he is also funny as hell in a situation that he really should be beyond depressed when he sees the outcome of his possible future. (Side note on this novel; The Martian was a self published by author Andy Weir on his own personal blog chapter by chapter and then later went on to sell the full book on Amazon at a starting price of $0.99. THEN….he got a publishing deal, a movie deal with Director Ridley Scott and Lead actor Matt Damon on the ticket. Talk about a success story!!! Go fellow self publisher, you ROCK!)
I take these characters very seriously because in order for me to give my readers an enjoyable novel I have to provide excellent. Now, I am not sure how Voldemort-y my villain is, and my main character isn’t a scientific genius BUT I am hoping to invoke emotion, meaning, and a solid background into each one of my characters to create a really well rounded story.
What about you my peeps? Who are your favorite book/movie/TV characters? I’d really love to hear your thoughts too 🙂
2 Replies to “What Makes a Character Great?”
Awesome post Jessica! I love to hate Voldemort too! And, I haven’t read “The Martian” yet, but it will be added to my reading list!
And you are quite right about all characters having to be fully developed with a back story & layers to them. I haven’t read all the books to movies that I’ve seen and visa-versa, and I usually like the book much better – mainly because of the back story to the characters as well as the inner monologues they have. It adds to much more depth. I have read the Harry Potter books a few times over and love them each and every time.
Would love to be a Beta reader for you – I’ve been doing some pre-release readings and postings from books on NetGalley and writing “reviews” on my Blog for them. Let me know.
Ohhhh yes I would love for you to beta read! I believe my new edit will be completed around November. I hope. You will know through my blog of where I am in the process 🙂
You will totally love the Martian, it’s Sci fi at its best, so very well written!