Like I've said before, I've been watching a lot of TV shows lately. Whole multiple shows/seasons just devoured since Thanksgiving. When I talk to people about the shows (mostly, Jenn who's watching them all too) I find myself saying things like: "The show is well-casted" or "The characters are so developed and intriguing." After saying that about five times in a week, it got me thinking.
What is about these characters that make me love the show? And how can I take these principles and apply them to MY characters?
Everyone has an opinion on what makes a good character. I have opinions too--but is there some kind of over-arching thing that makes a character (or cast of characters) stronger than others? Are there things we should look for in our characters? And how do you discover the things that make a character stick out in your mind?
|From DOWNTON ABBEY. Some of the best characters EVER.|
Well, I googled. I wanted to find out what other people thought about characters. I also asked some friends, put out a twitter poll, and googled some more. I made a list of some characters that sprung to mind from shows, and found that my favorites share consist similarities:
- They have more going on that you know at first sight.
- They have to fight for something.
- Are passionate.
- Are layered with hidden desires, passions and secrets.
- They have to step out of the thing they know and search for something they love.
- They surprise you.
- They have this edge to them. (Sometimes it's humor, violence, sarcasm, smarts...depends on the character.)
- It's easy to root for them, to be disappointed or to be angry. Whatever the emotion, it's easy and it's all acceptable.
- Make a character exceptional at something.
- Make the character care about someone other than herself.
- Make your good characters do bad things and bad characters do good things.
- Give your character a unique voice.
- Give your character a life that bleeds beyond the page.
- Give your character a passion.
- Give your character an obsession.
- Know your character’s psychic wound.
- Give your character an attitude. Understand how your character relates to other people.
- Know what your character wants the most.
- Know what your character fears the most.
- Think about how your character’s appearance impacts his/her life and personality.
- Give your character some ‘blind spots’.
I've recently starting trying to write out an answer for each of these for all my major characters. For my minor and secondary characters, I think there are less things to answer, though equally important, and I will post some thoughts on that tomorrow.
What do you guys think: What makes a great character? Are there similiarities in the characters you like?
If you're a reader: what do you look for?
If you're a writer: Do you agree to this list and would you add to it? Can you answer these for your own character?