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Notes from my pen keyboard...

Loving Your Character

I’ve been thinking lately about what makes me, as a reader, fall in love with a character someone else created. What is it exactly that I love about my favorite characters? Is it their skills? Personality traits? How they respond to things? What they’ve survived?

My favorite hero is Miach, from Lynn Kurland’s first Nine Kingdoms trilogy, which includes Star of the Morning, The Mage’s Daughter, and Princess of the Sword. When I asked myself why he’s such a perfect hero, I came to the conclusion that it’s not his power (which was extreme), his non-magical skills (which were many and formidable), or his looks (which really weren’t described all that well or that often). Rather it was for his never-ending patience with Morgan, his ever-present desire to understand her (even when it seemed impossible), and his humility. In fact, I think his humility was really what got me. He is the most un-arrogant character I’ve ever read, even though he had every reason in the world to be arrogant if he so chose.

Another favorite fictional hero of mine is Jeffery Lyman, from the old Grace Livingston Hill novel Crimson Roses. Lyman is a rich man’s son, yet he lacks the snobbery that keeps many rich men’s sons from being interested in a poor girl. He was able to see past Marian’s shabby gloves into the hands that were not ashamed to work, yet were still refined and cultured enough to sacrifice precious coins for symphony tickets. He proved himself still further by not only getting to know her, but exhibiting the patience necessary to take the romance at her pace, instead of his.

I see a common theme here. Patience and humility.

.~*~.

What about heroines? As a woman, liking a heroine means finding a character I’d like to be like…which is different than how/why I like heroes.

I just finished reading Courtney Milan’s Proof by Seduction (which has much less seduction than you’d think, given the title and cover art). This story actually had a lot of heart to it, and I liked that, even though I did skip over the few bedroom scenes. But I really liked the heroine of this story. Jenny was far from perfect, but she was compassionate and kind. Even better, she was able to see the good in people and bring it out. She made a difference in the lives around her.

Another heroine that many have loved throughout the last century is Anne from Anne of Green Gables. I’m talking about the Anne from the books, not the movies, for I don’t think the movies succeeded in portraying the parts of Anne’s character that I loved. The Anne in the books actually had a lot of the same character traits that Jenny had. She brought out the best in people. She was kind, forgiving, and she never gave up on people. On top of that, she brought joy to those around her.

.~*~.

As an aspiring author, though, how do I go about using this knowledge to make my own readers fall in love with my characters? Especially since different people probably fall in love with characters for different reasons?  Why do other people fall in love with their favorite characters?

>>> Comment and tell everyone what you think! <<<

3 Comments

  1. Posted February 4, 2010 at 3:33 pm | Permalink

    This reminds me of what Jane Austen said about Emma: “I’m going to take a heroine who no one but myself will much like.” Personally, I like authentic characters the best. It does help when I can relate to them, but when I see them more as a product of someone’s fantasy rather than someone who would actually exist and say and do the things they say and do … I dismiss them very quickly.

  2. Charlotte
    Posted February 8, 2010 at 10:06 am | Permalink

    I do not know several of these, but am familiar with Crimson Roses and Anne. Very perceptive in seeing the difference between the book and movie. I feel that way about Pollyanna, loving the book character, but not the Disney one.

    Another favorite is probably all the heroes in Dick Francis books. As well as Eleanor in Girl of the Limberlost.

    I envy you your ability to write.

  3. Posted June 9, 2011 at 1:25 pm | Permalink

    It was a good story as well as useful content for everyone. Remember to keep us updated.

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