March 05, 2008

Characters – Part 4: Where to Start?

I’m starting a novel. It’s going to be action-adventure focused, and it’s going to require extremely unique characters. In addition to determining the traits these characters possess, I also have to imbue them with special attributes (i.e. powers). Imagine the TV show Heroes or movies (and comic books) like X-Men and you’ll get what I’m aiming for.

Following my own advice from previous posts, I’m thinking back over other characters I’ve enjoyed. What traits does my lead character possess? Do I know anyone who shares one or two of those traits so that I can dial into the characters appropriate responses? This is the hero, so he has to be relatable. People have to respond to him favorably, root for him, and even sympathize with him when he fails. Here’s what I’ve got so far:

Stubborn. Head strong. Unafraid, even when he should be. Works hard, real hard, even pushing past his own personal limits when he shouldn’t. Good heart. Really wants to serve others and serve them well. If you’re on his team, his loyalty is undying, but if you’re not, you may encounter his bad temper. When his loyalties are split he struggles. He strives to do his best, but his own striving is sometimes what holds him back.

Okay. That’s a start. Now, I could use your help. Do you know any other characters like this? Do you feel that you could root for this guy? Would you enjoy reading about him and seeing what his path is?

Characters like him: Jack (from Lost), but younger.


Anonymous said...

Hi, Jay.

Nice blog. Character qualities interest me. Part of me wanted more character descriptions. Loyalty is a very crucial quality, one worth fighting for. The part that confused me was when you said he was held back by striving. I didn't get it. While reading the blog, Superman came to mind, which could be because he was brought up in a class today. Other individuals may come to mind later. Perhaps a decent president or some other leader.

To answer the other question, personally, the character part of the novel would probably interest me the most. To answer if it would be a novel I would read, I'd have to read the other blogs. Honestly, if someone related to Cody had some writings, it would interest me. The Sherer family is nice and it wouldn't surprise me to find excellent works from them (and, the same applies to Jessica, she seems to be really neat!).

Have a great week!

J Sherer said...

Thanks, Susan! I'll be writing about more characters as they come up.

"Held back by striving." Here's my thought. Sometimes, people beat their heads against the wall trying to get something that's unattainable while something else comes up that would be even better. They're so focused on getting item #1 that they don't even see the opportunity with item #2. That's what I would consider being held back by striving. Here are some thoughts:

1) I'm a runner trying to work back to finish a marathon, but I'm failing because I'm not the best there is, no matter how hard I try.

2) The opportunity comes up for me to compete in a triathlon. It just so happens that I would be great at a triathlon, but I'm so concentrated on the marathon that I miss out on my opportunity.

Or, another option I may neglect is a significant relationship. I may neglect my family because I'm so focused on the marathon. My desire (even loyalty) to the marathon overrides everything else.

Hopefully that clears up what I was trying to get at there. Superman is a great example, and he did fight with "striving too much" theoretically. He tried to save the world so often that he frequently neglected Louis! Great example!

Anonymous said...

Well, probably just because Heroes keeps coming up lately, those traits also seem a bit Peter Petrelli-ish. Not exactly, of course... he seemed a bit more passive and unsure, at least at first. And while that show had many important characters, it did sort of revolve around him, so apparently that setup works pretty well for a main character...

J Sherer said...

Thanks, Nathan. I've thought a lot about Heroes, and you're right, there are some similarities between my intended lead character and Peter. You're also right about Peter being more "passive" and "unsure."

Thanks for the comment!

Anonymous said...

For me personally, i think character is much too generic. It's a good starting point, but i think this character needs more flaws and maybee some inner conflict issues?

Your concept of a "Lost" meets "heroes", "X-men thing", is actually something i would actually buy and read. I find genre's like there very intriging.

J Sherer said...

Christina, thanks for the comment! I hope you'll continue to stop by and comment.

I think you're right on, too. That's the outer framework of a character, but inner workings and more flaws need to be explored. What are some of your ideas?