This is a huge topic, so I'm going to boil it down to what I feel are the basics that make up compelling characters.
I think the most compelling characters are the ones who are the most developed, the "roundest," as they often say. But those terms don't really do the concept justice.
They are not easily figured out by what they look like on the outside. They think, feel, and have depth, layers. (Like those from The Help.)
What others think of them isn't necessarily the entire truth. (How about that Mr. Darcy?)
Their background and past experiences have shaped and defined them, and those things impact the current story and how they behave in it. (Easy example: Harry Potter.)
A compelling character isn't perfect, but is doing their best, even if that means standing facing danger, public ridicule, or something else. (Montag sure has a fight.)
It's someone I can relate to, even in a small way, and even if they're in a bizarre situation I'll never be in. (Katniss, anyone?)
A compelling character needs weaknesses and flaws, but ones that aren't so huge I dislike the person. To balance the flaws, they need a redeeming quality. (We'd hate John Cleaver without his redeeming quality. With it, he intrigues us.)
I like seeing characters who have weaknesses that can be turned on their heads to become strengths in the final, crucial moments of the story. (Stealing from myself here: this one is very Tabitha.)
Most of all, a compelling character is someone who has become so real to me that even after I read the last page and close the covers of the book (or turn off the Kindle, as the case may be), I keep thinking about them for a long, long time.
You've covered it so perfectly I have nothing to add. No wonder I like your characters so much!
Interesting points and I agree with them. My main problem is that I see the inside of their head so well that I can't quite tell what the outside looks like.
Nicely said, I love a book which keeps me thinking about them long after I've closed the last page - and usually I'll re-read them. ;)
Love your examples, especially that they aren't what they appear to be from the outside.
I love how with each description you gave an example! I fully agree with Harry Potter!!! I loved him, and his friends, J.K. Rowling new her CHARACTERS.
Great points and great examples! :-)
So true that good characters feel real--my sister and I can discuss Scarlett O'Hara like she's an actual person (what was she THINKING?).
Slam dunk for examples! Great points, Annette.
I like the line that a compelling character isn't perfect but still doing his best.
Yeah...nice examples. :) Well done.
Have a wonderful weekend,
Very nicely put. I like the examples. I had not seen the video for Tower of Strength before. Very nice!
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All of the women in Band of Sisters have that feel to me. Every now and then I find myself thinking about them as though they're real people.
I love all of your examples. You covered so much, so well. Great job
Great points...I love it when you feel like you know the character and you can't stop thinking about them...like they are a real person. :)
I love the characters who jump off the page and come visit me for awhile. Good post.
N. R. Williams, fantasy author
I feel like I do characters well but I still have so much to learn. I need to do a better job of balancing the flaws with the redeeming qualities.
Great examples and wonderful post. Thanks!
I like your list of examples!
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