Loving a Character

Some people reads a book because of the setting, some reads because of the action, and some reads because of the characters are compelling.

My love for a book usually has a lot to do with my love with the main characters. It is them that made me flip through pages, reading in anticipation, cheering through their achievements, crying through their sadness, and curious to know where they will be in the end. But what makes someone falls in love with a character?

I read somewhere (totally forgot the book title/article link, sorry!) that it’s important for the character to have flaws, make them as real as possible. Good. So I would just make up someone who supposedly I would like to be friends, and give her/him some flaws. That’s easy enough, everyone should love them now. Err… not true.

As I go through my friends’ book list, or reading their book meme, or just browsing through their book-related posts, I realized that no matter how close we were in real life, or how awesome we get along laughing at the same jokes, doing the same things, etc., sometimes we could have a very different taste in books.

Yes, there are some generalizations… someone who hates shopping will probably never be able to connect with Becky Bloomwood from Sophie Kinsella’s shopaholic series. Someone who hates whining probably wouldn’t like Bella Swan from Stephenie Meyer’s Twilight saga. Someone who’s a bookworm would probably prefer Hermione Granger to Harry Potter from J.K. Rowling’s Harry Potter series (Just realized how smart Rowling is by creating more than one important characters).

It easier with those characters I mentioned because they have a very distinct personality developed in a series. What about if it’s only one book? Would it be harder to build a strong opinion on the character?

For example, I felt neutral with the main character in Elizabeth Gilbert’s Eat, Pray, Love. I know someone who loves her, and I know someone who dislikes her. Both of them are my friend. Or I dislike the main character in Lindsay Kelk’s I Heart Paris, but I know there are some people who seemed to love her (at least that seemed to be the case from some of the reviews I read).

What makes you love the main character? Is it because he/she is a person you’d like to be friends with in real life? Or is it because you saw something in them that resembles yourself? Or is the character possess something that you aspire to be?

In the same sense, why would you hate a main character? Is it because you wouldn’t want to be friends with that person in real life? Or is it because the character has a certain treat that you dislike so much?

Do share your opinion in the comments :)

Me? I love a character because I could see a part of me there. Yes, I’m aware this might imply that I have narcistic tendencies… but hey, look at the title of the blog ;). Actually what I meant was we all have our fears and flaws… and lovable treats. And it’s great to see someone, fiction or not, overcame those.

As a writer, I must conclude that there’s no way I could tell for sure if everyone would feel the same about the characters I wrote. Everyone has their own view on what they deemed interesting, and it starts to look like it’s almost as unique as someone’s personality.

I could only go with my gut feeling as I wrote, and hope my reader would love them as much as I do.

3 Comments

  1. This is a really interesting post with so many difficult questions.

    Liking a character: I like my characters well written/ well thought through and multi facetted. I agree with the fact that they need to have some kind of fault to them, like any other person. There needs to be background reasons for the way they act, not spelled out but implied in some way. I like it if they have a distinct sense of humor, way of speaking, way of moving. They need to feel alive and I guess I like it when they represent something that I can see in myself.

    Disliking a character: Most of the time, if I dislike a character, it is because they’re written poorly. There’s lack of substance to them and they don’t feel real. Or they’re just too darned annoying, so I start losing patience in reading about them.

    Hope I didn’t write too much :D

    Reply
  2. Hmmm I have to agree to many points that you mentioned here. Kudos for bringing this up in a very nice article! I tried to reply but ended up writing a long explanation about my reading habits, so I think I’ll just post it on my blog :P

    Reply
  3. I love a character if I can connect with them on some level. Not just personality-wise, but because I can feel what they’re going through as they fumble through life.

    On a completely different note, I LOVE what you did for Jen’s blog. And I have an award for you at my blog.

    Reply

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