Monday, February 23, 2015

Strength-Building Characters: Part IV

When it comes down to it, the strongest characters are ones we remember.  The characters we remember are the ones in which we are interested.  These are not necessarily the people we would want to call friends or family, but we would certainly want to watch through a telescope with Jimmy Stewart from the safety of our window.

We would especially watch neighbors with someone as interesting as Grace Kelly.

Good characters are not people.  We can create characters that we love and hate.  We love to hate them.  We hate to love them.  We want them to die, and we want them to kill someone.  We want them to love, and we want them to grasp their lives with a fury that we should have in our own lives.

We want them to have what we want in our own lives.

We want Lily Bart to marry Lawrence Seldon.  But we know she never will.

We want Hamlet to unravel the mystery with his faithful friends, Rosencrantz and Guildenstern, except in Strange Brew, in which we revel in the idiocy of Hamlet's friends.  We love to laugh at them.

But the best part of good characters is that we love to watch them.  Countless amazing characters in literature crash like a blazing plane, zooming into a runaway train as they collide with a submarine that surfaces with thirty seconds left of air.  And we cry and laugh and shiver and furrow our brows at them.

But we love to watch them.  Maybe we want more for them or we want them to do something differently, but we love to see what they will think, what they will say, what they will do.

And when the readers hang on their every move and believe what they are doing, we've done something right.

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