Wednesday, September 15, 2010

"I have tried every device I know to breathe life into my characters, for there is little in fiction more rewarding than to see real people interact on a page. How the writer achieves such a result remains a mystery, but sometimes it happens, and when it does, it is a wonderful thing."
~ James Michener



Ah, the challenge of creating characters people can love or hate, laugh with or cry with, root for or root against... REAL characters. More than words on paper characters. That is our challenge.


I have written umpteen drafts of my WIP. I'd give you a real number, but I lost track a year ago. But I didn't fall in love with my MC's sidekick until the final draft. I think that was part of what helped me know I was finally there - ready to query (well, that and my worlds-greatest-CP's stamp of approval).

The best books are those with the strongest characters: Harry Potter et. al; Katniss and Peeta; Evie and Lend; Grace and Sam; Frodo and Sam; wimpy kid Greg; Fancy Nancy; Flat Stanley...

I would love it if someday I could see Scott and Dusty added to that list!

Who are some of the most memorable characters
you've fallen in love (or hate) with?

27 comments:

KM said...

Wimpy kid, Greg! YES! I know a lot of people hated him, but I thought he was great - such a real voice.

This is something important to me, as well. I'd rather have great characters than a great plot.

Love your list of "greats." :)

Melissa said...

Oh gosh, the Harry Potter characters for sure...Katniss, Peeta, and Gale from the Hunger Games, Percy, Annabeth, and Grover from Percy Jackson. There are so many characters I love.

I have to admit that I love Alexia, Jack, and Grace from my WIP, RACE, too :)

Susan R. Mills said...

Loving the characters is definitely important. Funny you mention that that's how you knew you were ready to query. I'm discussing that over at my place today.

Valerie Geary said...

My rubber stamp of approval. :) Ha! Ha! But seriously...

Snape and Hagrid. Love.

And the little boy in THE ROAD (he doesn't have a name). Love.

And Briony Tallis, the little girl in ATONEMENT. Love and hate.

And who can ever forget Humbert Humbert (LOLITA). That guy has major creep factor. Hate.

Faith E. Hough said...

This is so true. Someday I MIGHT convince myself that Anne of Green Gables and Gilbert Blythe are not real people. ;)

Bethany Mattingly said...

I think you listed all of my favorite characters. :)

Patti said...

I think that a good character makes you hate them sometimes but love them at the end.

Tere Kirkland said...

Max was my first literary crush, so I'm glad you included a picture of him. I wished I had a wolf suit and I wanted to go to the land of the Wild Things with him. These days, I can't seem to get Will Laurence and Temeraire out of my head. Love those books.

LOL, Valerie, I've got a wonderful love/hate thing with Briony, too, that little so and so. But I wouldn't have her any other way!

Angela Ackerman said...

One I love is actually one of Becca's WIP characters--his name is Jinx. He's a smart-mouthed, get into trouble like no one's business type. Love him!

Angela @ The Bookshelf Muse

Laura Marcella said...

Of course all the Harry Potter characters! Anne Shirley, Matilda, Ramona and Beezus Quimby, Scarlett O'Hara, Rhett Butler, Meggie Cleary, Ralph de Bricassart, Woodrow Call and Agustus McCrae, Peter, Susan, Edmund and Lucy, Scout, Jem and Atticus...so many amazing characters come to mind!!! But I can't name them all or I'd be here forever, haha.

Kelly H-Y said...

Definitely the Harry Potter gang ... I'm devastated that there are no more books coming out!

Theresa Milstein said...

Macon and Muriel, Harry and Ron and Hermoine, Evie and Lend, Scout and her father.

I hope Scott and Dusty get added to the list too.

Elaine AM Smith said...

I love Artemis Fowl and Holly - I loved how their relationship developed, despite the obstacles.

salarsenッ said...

I'm such an old soul, so I have to reference Mr. Darcy, Edmund Dantes, and Heathcliff. Love them and hate them...well, I just love Darcy.

Karen Amanda Hooper said...

Aww, I bet Scott and Dusty will be on that list some day. Have faith! :)

My favs are still from the Outlander series. Jamie...*sigh*

Susan J. Reinhardt said...

Hi Shannon -

I always know when an author has achieved getting a character just right. How? I find myself praying for them.

Blessings,
Susan :)

L.T. Elliot said...

I love Gen from The Thief (Megan Whalen Turner). He totally stole my heart. Probably literally.

Jemi Fraser said...

I love your list! I'd add Anne of Green Gables to that list too :)

Roxane B. Salonen said...

One of my new favorite authors, Laura Resau, is quite adept at bringing characters to life. They aren't well-known at this point, but I believe they will be someday. :)

Solvang Sherrie said...

You already named some great ones. I think Dustfinger was one of my favorite characters (from the Inkheart books) and I rooted for Elphaba all the way when I read Wicked. I guess I like the underdogs :)

Robyn Campbell said...

Great post. Great way to know that you know that you know. You are PURE GENIUS, my friend. :)

Oh, and my most beloved character? Black Beauty, of course. :) And Magwitch from Great Expectations.

Most hated? Hmmm, Dolge Orlick from Great Expectations. What a creep!

MT said...

The Pevensie children from the Chronicles of Narnia are some of my all time favorites, along with several other characters from the same series. I love CS Lewis' character building abilities.

Catherine Denton said...

Wow! You listed many of my favorites as well as others in the comments. I'll only add: Elizabeth Bennett, Scout, and Laura Ingalls.

storyqueen said...

I loved Arnold Spirit from The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian.

And, of course, the whole HP gang!

Shelley

Julie Dao said...

Harry Potter and Frodo and Sam are at the top of my list! You nailed it!

Cleverly Inked said...

I usually fall for secondary characters. I am having brain lapse this morning

Margo Berendsen said...

The same ones you mentioned, and also Scout from To Kill a Mockingbird. Father Tim and Cynthia from the Mitford series. Actually, pretty much all the characters from that series. Interestingly, I found the most memorable characters are usually kids - from stories I read as a kid. The Mitford Series is the only adult series where the characters have really stuck with me. Hmmmm, something to think more about!

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