Good Characters—Day 2

I have to admit—with my favorite characters, I didn’t experience “love at first sight.” But something about them intrigued me, caught my attention, and made me value them enough to keep on following them around.

Scarlet O’Hara was like that. She was spoiled, vain, a manipulater and a user. And yet … when Ashley refused her, in front of Rhett, no less, I felt for her and was pretty much in her camp from that point on, even when she did despicable things. She was a strong woman who … wasn’t. And when circumstances turned against her, she was stronger than she wanted to be … and weaker. What an amazing, complex character.

Maybe, complexity belongs on the list of traits needed to create a good character. It’s not just that Scarlet had these strengths and then a weakness or two thrown in so that readers could see her as well-rounded. It was more that she was motivated from both parts of her personality and sometimes a strength (commitment to preserve the land, no matter what) led her to do what her weakness (use people) required.

And by the way, I’ve never been madder at a character than I was at Scarlet in the end. Not mad at the author. Mad at Scarlet. She had become that real to me that I blamed her for making the ultimate wrong decision.

Ah, to be able to make readers CARE about characters like that.

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Some great feedback from Chris and Kaci on yesterday’s list. Really causing me to think through this, which I love.

Published in: on October 17, 2006 at 11:53 am  Comments (8)  
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