Dec 21, 2011

Creating Complex Characters

Over on my critique group's blog, we have been talking about creating characters, and as has been the case before, I found myself rethinking some of my characters.  I think most writers have the goal of creating that character that is memorable, that among readers hits a celebrity type status where they can be referred to by one name and everyone (okay, readers...but seriously if self proclaimed non-readers know the name, the character must have really been brilliant, right?) knows their name.

Some of the best complex characters?  Here are a few of my nominees:

Katniss - seriously, she is a fresh "so what I'm a girl I'm not going to wait around for a boy to save me" character that guys and girls love.

Harry - took the orphan archetype to all sorts of new levels where he is no longer just saving himself, but everyone around him.

Luke - another orphan, yes, but we see him have even more reluctance, I think, than Harry did, and watch him grow to not just save the galaxy, but endearing him through is perseverance to save his father.

These characters are amazing because they are not perfect.  They have flaws, but that is what makes them loved.  They hesitate when we want them to act, make dumb choices at times, show vulnerability, and triumph through sadness.

Who are your favorite characters?  What is the quality or flaw that draws you to your favorite characters?  How do you weave these elements into your own writing?


Lillie McFerrin said...

As a Jane Austen lover, Elizabeth Bennet is one of those characters for me! I agree with the three you listed...they rock!!!

Ru said...

I feel like I'm a George RR Martin broken record I throw him out as an example so often -- but seriously. Every character he puts in the "Song of Ice and Fire" series is so well-rounded, you even sort of start to like the "bad guys" after awhile.

Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

Agent Pendergast from Preston & Child's series is one of my favorites. He has so many quirks. Definitely not perfect!

Susanna Leonard Hill said...

Your three choices are all great ones. I find I feel that way about a lot of well-written main characters. I'm currently reading a series with a great such character - Gaia, a 16 year old midwife. Gaia doesn't begin the series as an orphan, but she is one by the end of the first book. She's strong, but flawed - very relatable.

Peggy Eddleman said...

One of my favorites was Katsa from Graceling. So well done!