Saturday, February 13, 2016

How to Meet a Character: Part III, Meet Some Prime Examples

Yes, I was wrong.

It's true, no matter how much I dislike it.  I was wrong about Part II being the end, and here you have the actual coda.

I want you to see some examples of what the past two posts have been about.

So, yeah, this post is pretty much a list.  But it's a fun list!  And I might rant, so that'll be fun.  But, I mean, who knows?  I certainly don't.  I've already talked about Stanley from Holes, so that's over and done with, but that section sort of gave me the idea for this post.

A little note before we start--there will be all sorts of characters here.  They won't all be similar, but some might, and I'll probably have more boys than girls, because I'm like that, and...let's get started (sorry, I'm in a rambly mood).

Anthony Lockwood from Lockwood and Co.
I love this guy!  Seriously, one of the most charismatic, lovable characters I've ever read, and someone who you feel real pain for him.  He's probably tied for my favorite character with maybe two other guys.  The thing about Lockwood is that he's smart, confident, and approachable, but doesn't flaunt it.  He doesn't have to.  And the character development...oh, it makes me swoon.  Lucy, who is technically the main character I believe, is intrigued by him from the beginning because he seems so much older than he actually is.  As the series goes on, we see more facets to his personality, we see that he hides painful secrets, we see that he cares about everyone in his agency, and we see that we don't even know him yet.  And that's really the coolest part.  Realizing that I didn't know him yet added so much depth to his character.

Eugenides from The Queen's Thief
Okay, I'll be honest with you, I've only read the middle two books in this quartet, but I've loved them so much.  Eugenides, or Gen, is...well, he's kind of hilarious to me.  He's grumpy, can be childish, and is a thief to boot.  He's also absolutely brilliant.  People underestimate him because he seems kind of sloppy and careless, but he knows what he's doing, and he can steal anything (as he's boasted before).  He's really...well, at the risk of sounding obvious, he's quite a character.  If you've ever read Megan Whalen Turner, you'll know that she's pretty much a genius.  The best metaphor for her books I can find is chess.  She's like those players you always hear about and maybe know, the ones who know exactly what they and you will do from the beginning until they win the game.  She doesn't include a single sentence, phrase, or detail that doesn't advance the plot.  At the beginning you just read, trying to figure out what's going on and why, a little confused and frustrated, and then about halfway through things start to fall into place, and it's the most satisfying feeling in the world.  And that describes Euginedes as well, especially in the third book.  By the end, you simply adore him.

Greg Heffley from Diary of a Wimpy Kid
I'll be honest, I feel a little odd about putting Greg on this list.  It's not because I'm a snob, it's because...okay, yes, I'm totally a snob.  And Greg isn't the type of character I'd usually love.  In fact, I don't love him.  But I want to talk about him and his character development.  I've never liked DWK all that much; it's too cringe-worthy.  But Jeff Kinney did a good job of character development.  Greg is endearingly honest and self-deprecating.  He doesn't hide his tendency to get into embarrassing and painful situations.  Instead, he writes it all down in his diary--I'm sorry, journal.  He also doesn't describe himself in detail, which would have been easy for Jeff to have him do, the journal a good excuse.  No, he's...almost humble.  Not quite there, but almost.  And yet, even though he's the one narrating this whole thing, you can see some of the vanity and unabashed selfishness that he doesn't notice in himself.  He's complex.  He's likable (to a certain degree).  He's well-written.

Hope Yancey from Hope Was Here
I know I've talked about this book on here before, but let's talk about the MC specifically.  Hope is strong, her name fits her perfectly (she picked it herself), and she's also a terrific and experienced waitress.  That last part I love so much, because Hope is one of those characters who knows what she's doing and that she wants to keep doing it, and that's really cool for me.  People often underestimate her because of her youth, but she surprises them, and it's obvious that she has real people skills.  Her aunt is a chef who travels around, helping pick up old restaurants and diners and get their business booming--until they close down and she and Hope have to move on again.  Hope's parents are out of the picture, and all Hope has from her mother are her waitressing tips (which are actually really useful).  Hope is very mature and wants to find her father.

Y'all, you can tell I'm tired when I start rattling facts without bringing my sentences together well.  I need a tea break.

*twenty nine minutes pass*

And I'm back, with a nice mug of hot Jasmine tea straight from Indonesia.  Seriously.  My friends brought it back from Indonesia.

Let's dive straight back in:

Lemony Snicket from All the Wrong Questions
How could I not mention this guy?  Lemony Snicket is the best fiction writer I have ever read, and his character development is a beautiful thing to see.  He's a mystery, and yet he's right in front of you, as real as anyone around you.  Except that he's a character from a book.  I read back over the last few sentences, and they're kind of confusing.  All I can say is, Lemony Character is as believable as anyone I've ever read, including the real ones.  I don't know how to add to that.  It's too perfect and complex to describe (plus, the tea, wonderful as it is, can only do so much).

Jackson Greene from The Great Greene Heist
Like the last two, you've heard this before.  But it bears mentioning again.  Because Jackson is in middle school.  AND HE WEARS A TIE.  I don't know why that's oh-so-wonderful for me, but I love it!  He's such an intriguing mix of rebel and traditionalist, formal and casual, laid-back and uptight.  And his older brother, his inspiration, is just as cool, if not cooler.

Man, I feel like such a writer right now.  Type a few sentences, take a sip from my mug, return to typing.  I'm so industrious.  This is the life.

Rose Howard from Rain Reign
This is a character I almost didn't put in, not because she wasn't written well, but because this book was painful for me emotionally.  But I know I should put it in, so I am.  We get to know Rose through first person.  She is autistic.  This book and the way she's written kind of opened my eyes, but I have to confess that the person I related to more was her father, Wesley.  I understand that feeling of loving someone but not knowing what to do with them.  I wish the book had ended differently, but even the way it ended I'll be thinking about it for years.

James from Midnight Thief
James was definitely my favorite character from this book, even though he wasn't the MC.  *SPOILER ALERT*  He was painful to read, because you care so much about him, and the whole time you know things are going to end with him being the bad guy.  One of the hardest parts was when he stabs Kyra, and you can tell some part of him doesn't want to, but it's not enough to stop him.  But as much as I love him, his whole character reinforced my knowledge that a person's actions will show the true state of their heart.  As far as character development goes, he was perfect.  We see little bits of him slowly emerge.  We're not told, we're shown.  And he's very real.  He makes human decisions, has human reasons and human reactions.  He would be purely lovable if it weren't for the fact that he's an evil murderer.  Yeah, there is that.

Ender Wiggins from Ender's Game
Last, but definitely not least.  I read Ender's Game for the first time when I was ten, I believe.  I started reading it in the evening and read until two or three in the morning, when I finished it.  And for days, all I could do was think about it.  Ender is by far the character I relate to the most, of all the characters I've ever read.  We meet him when he's six and follow his development from a smart young boy who likes to keep to himself to a young man who is a brilliant leader and strategist.  The whole time, there's a similar theme--he doesn't want to hurt anyone, but he'll do what he has to do to get peace for himself.  He's not described at all, except in words from others, but the whole time, you can just feel how worn out with the whole thing he's becoming.  He never wants to hurt anybody, and yet, by the end of the book he's almost completely destroyed an intelligent species.  The thing that really struck me about Ender is that, true to human nature, he doesn't always do what you'd expect him to do.  His actions aren't always logical.  He'll do something without knowing why he's doing it, knowing that he's causing a person pain and that it's his choice, but he'll still do it, even as he asks why.  It's really sad, but also beautiful to read.

Read some more lists.

Here are some lists of similar characters.  The first list contains my favorite "type" of character, so pay special attention to that.  I don't know how authors can keep writing very similar characters and I love them all so much, but somehow they do.  This isn't a very good sign, but I'm going to add my Theodore to the list.  Some of these characters I've already mentioned above.

List 1: Young, Enigmatic, Charismatic Males
Anthony Lockwood
Richard Campbell Gansey III (Raven Cycle)
Artemis Fowl II
W.W. Hale V (This is open to debate, since Hale isn't the main character or one in charge.) (Heist Society)
Theodore Richard Norwood IV
Jackson Greene

List 2:  Young Main Characters With Specific and Useful Skill Sets
Max Starling [actor] (Mister Max)
Hope Yancey [waitress] (Hope Was Here)
Tess Kendrick [fixes people's problems] (The Fixer)
Connwaer [thief] (The Magic Thief)
Theodore Boone [lawyer] (Theodore Boone, Kid Lawyer)
Katarina Bishop [thief] (Heist Society) 
Fletcher Moon [detective] (Half Moon Investigations)
Jackson Greene [con artist] (The Great Greene Heist)

List 3:  Characters Who Find Home in Unique and Unexpected Places
Charlotte Doyle [Seahawk] (The True Confessions of Charlotte Doyle)
Piper [401] (The Mark of the Dragonfly)
Abilene Tucker [Manifest] (Moon over Manifest)
Capricorn Anderson [C Average] (Schooled)

Okay, we're done here.  I hope you've found some new books to read and have discovered things about character and writing that you didn't know before.

And with that, I conclude the three-part series, How to Meet a Character.



1 comment:

  1. AAANNNNNNNNNNAAAAAA I tagged you so you must.