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Craft Questions #1: Character

Discussion in 'Writing Discussions' started by Philip Overby, Jun 28, 2012.

  1. Philip Overby

    Philip Overby Staff Article Team

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    I'd like to do a series of posts to get a general idea of what people like, not only as writers, but also as readers. I think it's a good idea as writers to learn from what we read. Each week I'd like to post a new thread asking questions regarding some central points of writing stories. These will be the topics I'll bring up:

    1. Character
    2. Setting
    3. Plot
    4. Theme
    5. Style

    So for this first thread, let's discuss characters. Answer the following questions to the best of your ability and feel free to add as much detail as you'd like.

    1. What kind of characters do you like reading about?

    2. What kind of characters do you like writing about?

    3. Do physical attributes make you more interested in a character? Or do they not matter much?

    4. In your opinion, what makes a compelling protagonist?

    5. On the flip side, what makes a compelling antagonist?

    6. What's your opinion on "comic relief" characters?

    7. Is there such a thing as having too little or too many characters?

    8. Are you turned-off by novels with multiple POV characters? Or do you enjoy that?


    Here are my answers:

    1. I like reading about characters who have distinct personalities. I'm not so much interested in a knight character unless he has some kind of quirk about him that stands out. They don't have to be completely original, but at least have something I can latch on to.

    2. Typically, I like writing characters who I may not meet in real life. I like realism in my stories sometimes, but I tend to like writing more colorful characters who have colorful backgrounds. If I feel like I could run into the main character when I go shopping, I'm not so much interested in writing about him.

    3. Brief physical attributes are compelling to me. I like to know what someone looks like but I don't need every single character pain-stakingly described. A physical flaw or some kind of interesting thing about their gait or what they're wearing is enough.

    4. For me, a compelling protagonist has a goal in mind and sets out to do it. Along the way, he or she may come across many difficult decisions, and sometimes they make the wrong choice. I prefer a flawed main character to one that just sort of coasts along with no struggle at all.

    5. A compelling antagonist needs to think what he's doing is right. Also, I need to be happy when he is defeated. I can't think of many books where this has happened for me.

    6. I love humor in my fantasy anyway, so I'm cool with comic relief as long as it's not too hokey or played-out.

    7. I don't think there is such a thing as too little or too many characters. I'm a big proponent of having a huge cast of characters, but only if they have some significant purpose to the story. I think fantasy could do with having more novels with a smaller cast though. I'd actually like it if someone could give me some examples.

    8. I love multiple POV books. It goes back to reading Dragonlance books when I was a teenager. It helped pace the story for me better and I could visit different plots and characters all in the same book. That being said, if a POV character isn't that interesting, it can make me put down an otherwise entertaining book.

    So, any thoughts on these questions? If you have a question that you'd like to add that pertains to characters (only please) then please add it in your response.

    Thanks!
     
  2. Bear

    Bear Minstrel

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    1. A quirky character or a character that is imperfect. I don't like the alpha male or alpha women type character.

    2. I like writing a strong female character.

    3. Physical attributes don't matter much for me.

    4. I kind of go for the dark anti-hero type character. Usually the simple characater that comes across as human(filled with flaws or vices) or an every day joe and is thrown into events way over his/her head.

    5. For me, the antagonist has to be a real malicious and nasty bastard or thing.

    6. I like humor.

    7. Depends on the story. I don't think that there is a right or wrong answer for this.

    8. multiple POV characters can confuse me sometimes. I don't mind it if the writing is done so I don't get lost.
     
  3. Ophiucha

    Ophiucha Auror

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    1. What kind of characters do you like reading about?
    Unique, flawed, the typical checklist of a decent character. Specific things I enjoy: anti-villains, maternal or paternal character, self-sacrificing characters, and unreliable narrators. Particularly the last one. I'll pretty much read any book with an unreliable narrator.

    2. What kind of characters do you like writing about?
    ... anti-villains, parents, characters who sacrifice themselves, and unreliable narrators. The old adage that you should write for yourself is one I take to heart.

    3. Do physical attributes make you more interested in a character? Or do they not matter much?
    I suppose so. I like diversity in fiction, and in as much as one could call 'lady parts' a physical attribute, I appreciate them on a character, since we need more lady characters. And trans* characters. And characters of colour. And fat characters. And differently abled characters. Certainly Tyrion Lannister is a more interesting character because of his size. Of course, all of these things have non-physical applications in a story. To use Tyrion, his height affects how he is perceived by others and his role in the Lannister family. But frankly, if a physical attribute doesn't have some importance to it, even if its minor, I don't know why you'd mention it. Things like "this character is blonde" probably won't matter to me at all, but even something as irrelevant as that could matter to me if the story were to take place in Nazi Germany or something.

    4. In your opinion, what makes a compelling protagonist?
    I feel like having an real connection to the story is important to me. Stories where characters sort of stumble across the plot tend not to hold my attention, and even secondary protagonists - "party members" if you will - who don't have some tie to the story will bore the heck out of me. The cheap fantasy way of doing this is the prophecy, and I'll take it if that's what I get, but I'd rather a deeper connection.

    5. On the flip side, what makes a compelling antagonist?
    The same thing as above, certainly, though they are often the catalyst for the story, so it's something of a given that they are tied to it. I like good and gray antagonists, as my tendency for anti-villains might suggest. But I can get into a big bad if they're fun. The Mayor, from Buffy the Vampire Slayer, is one of my all time favourite villains, and he's certainly not ambiguously evil.

    6. What's your opinion on "comic relief" characters?
    See point 4. Are they doing anything in the story other than cracking wise? If so, I have no problem with funny people. If not, gtfo. Sometimes they tip-toe the line, being brothers to important characters or getting kidnapped a lot or something, but I'd rather a character who's really part of the group who also just happens to be humorous.

    7. Is there such a thing as having too little or too many characters?
    I don't think so. Maybe too many. I mean, somewhere around the thousand mark, even in a really long series, it just starts to get a bit silly. But I can deal with a couple hundred names in the books without complaint.

    8. Are you turned-off by novels with multiple POV characters? Or do you enjoy that?
    I generally don't like it. I've made exceptions - Iron Council is one of my favourite novels and it has like 3 POV characters - and I do tend to prefer certain ways of presenting it to others. I prefer a novel in three parts, like ten chapters of John, ten chapters of Sue, ten chapters of Mike, where each of their ten chapters are consecutive. As opposed to John, Sue, Mike, Mike, John, Mike, Sue, Sue, Sue, Mike, John which a lot of novels do.
     
    studentofrhythm likes this.
  4. 1. What kind of characters do you like reading about?

    Characters who are highly intelligent and motivated. Characters who are mope about piss me off; characters who do stupid things for no reason but to forward the plot really piss me off. (Characters who are stupid because that's who they are, and it fits into the plot, don't bother me so much, but I'm still not that interested in reading about them).

    2. What kind of characters do you like writing about?

    The same. Not everyone I write has to be incredibly smart, but I do like characters who are tuned in to the obvious, rather than being blinded by their biases.

    3. Do physical attributes make you more interested in a character? Or do they not matter much?

    They matter not at all.

    4. In your opinion, what makes a compelling protagonist?

    Someone who attacks conflict head-on, even if they lose or screw up.

    5. On the flip side, what makes a compelling antagonist?

    Someone who is utterly ruthless and is always thinking several steps ahead.

    6. What's your opinion on "comic relief" characters?

    They're fine, but it depends on the story. Some stories, comic relief doesn't really fit in.

    7. Is there such a thing as having too little or too many characters?

    Yeah. Too few isn't really a problem; I've read books with only two or three major characters and almost no minor characters, and they're fine, as long as the major characters are interesting. Too many can be a problem, especially if minor characters who aren't really relevant ot the story are given a lot of facetime, or if there's numerous characters who are very similar.

    8. Are you turned-off by novels with multiple POV characters? Or do you enjoy that?

    Nope, it's fine with me.
     
  5. Queshire

    Queshire Auror

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    First to answer the survey:

    1. What kind of characters do you like reading about?
    Hmmm..... I have to say the characters I best like reading about are characters that use their wits to defeat enemies that completely out match them in a pure fight and can maintain a positive, humorous outlook in the face of adversity. Characters like the Doctor from Doctor Who, Harry Dresden from the Dresden Files, Aang form Avatar the Last Airbender, and Moist von Lipwig from Discworld.


    2. What kind of characters do you like writing about?
    I'm not sure if it's prefrenance or just a natural result of the writing proccess but the characters I right are each aspects of myself. Cynical, snarky, excited, shy, crazy, all have elements of me in them, and all maintain a positive outlook in the face of adversity.


    3. Do physical attributes make you more interested in a character? Or do they not matter much?
    Eh, I don't think they matter much. I have Aspergers, and one of the aspects of that is that I'm face blind. While most people recongnize each face as individual and unique, to me, I see faces more like.... models of furniture. A couch is different from a chair, but telling two chairs apart can be hard. When I read a story, I don't care about the little details, just give me a few important features I can identify with a character, and let me imagine the rest myself.


    4. In your opinion, what makes a compelling protagonist?
    Someone that doesn't get handed things, but has to work hard to over come the obsticles in their path. Somebody that gets knocked down again and again, but gets up every time.



    5. On the flip side, what makes a compelling antagonist?
    A SMART one. Somebody that's read the evil overlord list. Somebody that replaces the magical item that can kill them with a fake. Somebody who's motivations let you sympathise with them and make you wonder if the hero is really doing the right thing by opposing them, yet in the end it's obvious they have to be stopped.


    6. What's your opinion on "comic relief" characters?
    While I enjoy comic relief, a character's only purpose shouldn't be JUST comic relief. If the character can be removed from the story without affecting the plot, then they should be.


    7. Is there such a thing as having too little or too many characters?
    Nope! I'm a fan of loads and loads of characters, though you should take steps to ensure that each one is distinct and gets their time in the lime light, while having just a few characters isn't bad either.


    8. Are you turned-off by novels with multiple POV characters? Or do you enjoy that?
    I like it, so long as it's clear who's POV it is, I see no problem with it, though on the other hand I don't have a problem with just one POV char either. That said, I don't like reading the same thing over and over again from multiple points of veiw, if it's shown once that's good enough.

    And now to respond to other people's response, as if we don't have a back and forth dialouge this becomes just a survey, which is boring.

    @Phil: I found your answer to two interesting, I know many writers, myself included, that specifically write about characters that are easy to relate to and then throw them into the deep end. In essence, writing characters that you could meet in a grocery store, then tossing them into the middle of an adventure.

    @Bear: Hmm.... An obviously evil antagonist would be fine for a one book story, but I find that for the big bad in longer series they feel a bit flat. That's one of the problems I had with Voldemort and Sauron.

    @Ophucha: I don't think the plot has to be personal to the protagonist, there's a lot of potential in a character getting caught up in things out of his control and is forced to ride the wave of events.

    @Benjamin Clayborne: while villians should be willing to do what it takes to achieve their goals, I think that flat out ruthlessness can be counter productive. I find that the best villians know that sometimes a little restraint can be a lot more effective then card carrying villianry. So, basically Pragmatic Villiany as per: Pragmatic Villainy - Television Tropes & Idioms
     
  6. Penpilot

    Penpilot Staff Article Team

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    1. What kind of characters do you like reading about?

    This is kind of vague, but I like reading about interesting characters with depth. I like discovering things about the character that tell me how they became the person they are in the story. What things shaped their thinking and how that shaping can give them happiness and cause them pain.

    2. What kind of characters do you like writing about?

    Same as my answer for 1

    3. Do physical attributes make you more interested in a character? Or do they not matter much?

    Only the broad strokes of what a character looks like really matter to me. Unless it's a key physical detail, I fill in what they look like myself. It doesn't matter how in detail the author gets. I build my mental image of a character by how they act and how they think, not what I'm told.

    4. In your opinion, what makes a compelling protagonist?

    Someone real. Meaning, they have all the flaws any normal person would have. Some may be present to a greater degree. Some may be present in a lesser degree.

    5. On the flip side, what makes a compelling antagonist?

    See answer 4

    6. What's your opinion on "comic relief" characters?

    They're fine as long as they're used right. If all they're intended to be is the joker, and that's all they do, that's fine but it's only effective in small doses in that case. But if the character is more than just comic relief, if they have depth, they're more interesting and can be on stage longer for more fun.

    7. Is there such a thing as having too little or too many characters?

    Yes. But the true answer is dependent on the needs of the story. Sometimes each is a symptom of an underdeveloped story. Too few characters could mean there aren't enough ideas to flesh out. Too many characters could mean that the main character isn't all that interesting and the author is filling in the lulls and gaps in actual story by introducing new characters.

    8. Are you turned-off by novels with multiple POV characters? Or do you enjoy that?[/B]

    I love novels with multiple POVs, same with single POV novels. It's the cliche answer, as long as it's good.
     
  7. Philip Overby

    Philip Overby Staff Article Team

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    @Queshire: I tend to want to write a character that can be related to in some way, but still I don't want him to be "The Everyman." I know that tends to be a popular approach, but to me the character needs that extra "it" factor that makes him stand out. Not to say I want all my characters to be superheroes, but I want them to have something going for them that the average dude doesn't.
     
  8. Ghost

    Ghost Inkling

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    1. What kind of characters do you like reading about?

    I like reading about characters I can relate to, characters that make me curious, and well-defined characters who make difficult choices.

    2. What kind of characters do you like writing about?

    A good number of my characters are messed up, and they'll probably appeal to few readers. My characters can be cowards, complicit murderers, madmen, or sheltered people who don't know how to cope. They can be gleeful, vengeful, scared, otherworldly, or cruel. They might be unhappy about the past or they might have anxiety about the future. They might be silly or simple characters who deal with morbid issues, like a fairy tale gone wrong. I also like (relatively) well-adjusted people who encounter incredible or absurd people and problems as a part of their everyday lives.

    I like when the interactions are mismatched. One character gets something from the conversation that the other didn't intend or there's friction between them and an undercurrent. Maybe something a character once said takes on new meaning after her motives are revealed. I love that sort of thing.

    3. Do physical attributes make you more interested in a character? Or do they not matter much?

    I don't care about physical attributes unless it's important to how others view the character or how the character feels about his or herself. Their movements, mannerisms, speech, voices, expressions–those are the things I'm interested in. I prefer presence over presentation, if you know what I mean.

    4. In your opinion, what makes a compelling protagonist?

    An exaggerated trait done well is very compelling for me, like unpredictibility, wit, ambition or determination, uncertainty, intelligence, cunning, etc. If he's melodramatic, I want him to revel in it. If she's a coward, I don't want her to pretend she's brave. I like unusual combinations of traits, like a character who is naïve but has wicked intentions towards others or a character who acts kind and generous but feels people owe him for the favors he offered freely. I love confident characters who overestimate their abilities.

    A protagonist should be inseperable from their world. The actions they take should affect other characters. I prefer some of their problems to be of their own making, so they have to deal with the concequences. I want the protagonist to be disliked by some people, even if they don't deserve it. If everyone loves them, I find it harder to love them myself.

    I like an interesting narrative voice, too. It can give me insight into the viewpoint character and make me appreciate them more.

    5. On the flip side, what makes a compelling antagonist?

    As a reader, I love an antagonist who I can connect with emotionally. Even if I know he's going about things wrong, I want to feel sorry for him and I want to believe had the situation been different, things wouldn't have escalated to this point. I like the antagonist to be liked by some people, even if they don't deserve it. If everyone hates them, I find it harder to hate them myself because they can seem like bogeymen.

    However, I can get behind a bogeyman type antagonist if he's frightening and lurking close by rather than an ambiguous, distant threat.

    As a writer, I don't often have a person who's an antagonist. Usually, the protagonist's own faults bring him down or he perceives a threat where there isn't one. Sometimes the problem is situational. When I do have a person/being as an antagonist, it's someone who terrifies me, someone I can't imagine facing on my own.

    6. What's your opinion on "comic relief" characters?

    It depends. It's terrible when they're forced or poorly thought out, like the author only held on because he thought he was being clever. That sort of thing annoys me. But done well, I love comic characters. A character like that is better with depth and goals.

    7. Is there such a thing as having too little or too many characters?

    It depends on the story, the way they're introduced, how much of the load each one carries, how dynamic they are and what they add to the situations, how often they recur throughout the story, how memorable each one is, how similar their names and functions are, etc.

    If the story needs 150 characters, then it needs 150 characters. If those 150 characters can be culled and merged into 30, then they weren't important enough on their own and they're distracting to the main storyline. On the other end of the spectrum, one character can sustain an epic length novel. I guess too few would be no characters at all? Not sure how you'd do that...

    8. Are you turned-off by novels with multiple POV characters? Or do you enjoy that?

    I'm not turned off by multiple PoV characters, but I've never read a series with several PoVs where they all appealed to me. If I dislike 1/3 of an author's PoV characters or storylines, having nine means I might dislike 3/9. I'm more likely to put a book down when those chapters come up, and I'll be sorely tempted to skip 'em.

    Why is my post so long?!?! :eek:
     
  9. ascanius

    ascanius Inkling

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    1. What kind of characters do you like reading about?
    I like characters who think for themselves. Who are independent and capable of such thoughts without the influence or insistance of others. Rational is also a must, but irrationality is also interesting to me if it works for that character. I like the character who thinks outside the box yet for their own reasons.

    2. What kind of characters do you like writing about?
    The ones I can pour my past into.

    3. Do physical attributes make you more interested in a character? Or do they not matter much?
    Depends. Unless it is an interesting attribute I don't care. The basic humdrum attributes such as hair color eye color etc I don't care about. I like the ones that make them different.

    4. In your opinion, what makes a compelling protagonist?
    The one who makes mistakes. The one who makes me question yet understand.

    5. On the flip side, what makes a compelling antagonist?
    Depends. Intelligence, ruthlessness. Someone who makes mistakes more on judgment than arrogance. I cannot stand the antagonist who makes dumb mistakes.

    6. What's your opinion on "comic relief" characters?
    mmhee. Don't really have an opinion. But I don't think comedy should be sequestered to only one character.

    7. Is there such a thing as having too little or too many characters?
    Possible if poorly done

    8. Are you turned-off by novels with multiple POV characters? Or do you enjoy that?
    I don't care, if it is well written I will read it.
     
  10. studentofrhythm

    studentofrhythm Minstrel

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    1. What kind of characters do you like reading about?
    Ones that are pretty normal I think. They have the sorts of human problems that people might not want to talk about very much. Also, bookish types (gee I wonder why).

    2. What kind of characters do you like writing about?
    Besides the expected referral to the above, I enjoy writing characters whose motives and temperaments I feel I understand clearly. Maybe that's a really obvious answer.

    3. Do physical attributes make you more interested in a character? Or do they not matter much?
    Most definitely. I enjoy going to the effort to picture a character in my mind with distinctive appearance so they don't all end up looking like the Jane and John Doe that sort of stand in by default.

    4. In your opinion, what makes a compelling protagonist?
    Whether sympathetic or despicable, I think what makes one compelling for me is being able to see his or her personality in relation to his or her stated beliefs: does he walk his talk? Whether he does or doesn't, that consonance or dissonance really shows me what kind of person he is, and that is what makes him compelling.

    5. On the flip side, what makes a compelling antagonist?
    It seems too easy just to say “see above.” Maybe the questions are getting at what leads me to sympathize with or despise a character. Those I sympathize with have consciences that they respect, self-awareness and humility. Those I despise are proud, hard-hearted, or self-deceiving (although sometimes that can arouse pity rather than spite). Again, I feel like I'm making obvious answers, sorry.

    6. What's your opinion on "comic relief" characters?
    I'm trying to call up a recollection of some outside of David Eddings' books.

    A professor of mine has proposed a character grammar — sort of a map of archetypes — which generally includes a comic character. It must depend on the total tone of the story. I just finished Mistborn for the first time and though I don't as a rule enjoy reading much banter between characters any more, I did find Breeze a genuine relief from the otherwise oppressive atmosphere. In fact, reflecting on how real people do try to find humor in bad situations enriched the story for me (and helped compensate for things in the writing I found trying).

    7. Is there such a thing as having too little or too many characters?
    I think there's definitely such a thing as having too many.

    8. Are you turned-off by novels with multiple POV characters? Or do you enjoy that?
    I thought it turned me off, but then I think about it. I don't remember it bothering me when I read Dune as a teenager (half my life ago). It didn't bother me when I read Cortázar's Final Exam or 62: a Model Kit (there were other things about that book that troubled me). I think it's when the viewpoints shift within a chapter that it bugs me. I do enjoy reading 1P narrators very much and you can only switch viewpoints then by starting a new chapter or section — Diana Gabaldon does that and although it begs some questions I didn't hold it against her when I was reading her Outlander series.

    Yes, switching viewpoints within the story in clearly-marked sections can be lots of fun, giving you multiple perspectives on the same matter. Dracula is a perfect example.
     
    Last edited: Jul 1, 2012
  11. robertbevan

    robertbevan Troubadour

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    i like arthur dents. especially in fantasy, i like a guy who starts out as normal, and gets himself caught up in a situation he can't control, or gradually becomes something really badass. i can picture that character as a stand-in for me, and dupe myself into believing that i could become just as much of a badass if only some old bearded guy would come and take me under his wing.

    i think that's probably part of the reason we see so many stories about farmboys and orphans and kids who live under staircases.


    most of my characters are miserable, foul-mouthed jerks. i like to think they're lovable though.

    only if they're actually important to the story. (my father was killed by a six-fingered man.) in my book, the characters actually change from humans into fantasy races (elf, halfling, dwarf, and half-orc), so some physical description was necessary because their bodies were altered severely, and they had to spend some time adjusting to the length of their limbs and whatnot, but i didn't make any mention of hair or eye color, because i like to leave as much as i can up to the reader. the reason for that is mostly to do with the answer i gave to question 1. i want the reader to have the option at least to be able to put himself in the position of whichever character he takes a shine to.

    one who thinks outside the box to solve his big problem.

    one who's not evil for the sake of being evil (dr. evil being an exception). one who, if the reader were to put his or her self into this antagonist's shoes, would probably make the same choices the antagonist did.

    most of the time they piss me off because they're not actually funny. an old wizard who constantly forgets things and keeps repeating "oh... what was the name of that spell?" and "where did i put my hat?". that's more boring and less funny than jar-jar binks.

    i'll also add that i hate it when someone makes a joke so flat or corny that your dad would be ashamed of making, and everyone in the room laughs. ("ah, skarlsbad, my old friend. you've put on a few pounds since last we met. been eating too many of granny goose's sweetcakes, have you?" the room burst into laughter.)

    i don't know. i'm tempted to say zero is too few, and a billion are too many. but i think this sort of thing depends on the individual story, and i'll hold off judgement until i actually read a story with zero or a billion characters.

    i enjoy it.
     
  12. Elder the Dwarf

    Elder the Dwarf Maester

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    I may be a bit late on this, but I always love your questions Phil, so I'll answer anyways.

    1. I've gone into detail on this in several different threads, so I'll keep it short. I love to read about many different types of characters. I love smart characters, but sometimes reading dumb characters can be extremely entertaining (Banokles from Gemmel's Troy series is awesome). I love conflicted heroes, but I've always had a soft spot for the sidekick. For the most part, I like to read likable characters. I love Martin, Abercrombie, etc. but I'm one of the few (seems like very few) people on this forum that enjoys to read about Druss, Drizz't, Aragorn, Ned Stark, or Hektor (again, Gemmel's Troy. Read these!) as much or more than I like to read about Jaime Lannister, Logen Ninefingers, or Bayaz. To me there is nothing wrong with a hero that tries to be a hero, to consistently do the right thing. I like my morally gray characters as much as the next guy, but there are people (most people, I would say) in the real world who are legitimately good or legitimately bad people. And I like to read about good people. In closing, making every character do one bad deed for every good deed doesn't make writing more realistic. It feels contrived. Ok, rant over, sorry guys.

    2. I like writing about characters that are smart, funny, and have a special skill set. I like to write about characters that I would like to be around, even if being around them would have a certain danger attached to it.

    3. Rarely, and never by itself. I love Tyrion, but his physical characteristics are only a small part of his character. They are important, because they are a reason for his development, but they are not significant by themselves.

    4. A compelling protagonist to me is someone who is complex, strong and has a unique (or at least well developed) set of skills. If he or she is not good at anything, what the hell is special about them? Why are they the protagonist?

    5. I like to hate the antagonist. I don't mind antagonists that are really evil, but I also like to read the ones that make you think about their motives. In ASOIAF, I hate Cersei. I really like several other of the protagonists, who I won't reveal for spoiler purposes. Another example is in Gemmel's Troy series, (sorry, this keeps cropping up) there are several antagonists I really hate (Agamemnon) but others who could be considered antagonists, like Achilles and Odysseus (if these are spoilers, you need to catch up on your classic literature) are really likable. Writing is much better when it includes both kinds.

    6. I like comic relief characters. Tas from Dragonlance, Pippin from LOTR, and even Regis from the Drizz't books are all characters I really like.

    7. No. I'm not a fan of Castaway-like entertainment, but as long as you have more than one character I can read it. I love ASOIAF, so I can't see a multitude of characters bothering me.

    8. I prefer multiple POV's.
     
  13. Devor

    Devor Fiery Keeper of the Hat Moderator

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    1. What kind of characters do you like reading about?
    2. What kind of characters do you like writing about?

    To both of these questions: Deep and surprising ones.


    3. Do physical attributes make you more interested in a character? Or do they not matter much?

    It depends on the attributes, and how much they make an impression about the character's personality. I don't care if the girl has green eyes, but if you point out that the green eyes happen to match the Heineken bottle in her hand, it becomes a piece of the big picture of who that character is.


    4. In your opinion, what makes a compelling protagonist?

    I'm loosely of the mind that the MC should be the one making all the normal choices. They can be clever or cruel, but I don't want to find myself questioning, what's this guy thinking? You never ask that about a secondary character, at least no more than you do about your RL neighbors.


    5. On the flip side, what makes a compelling antagonist?

    Mostly the sense that this is a person I could meet on the street. I've lived in NYC, though, where the streets get kind of crazy, so that might not be a good example for everyone.


    6. What's your opinion on "comic relief" characters?

    They can be quirky, but not idiots.


    7. Is there such a thing as having too little or too many characters?

    Too many, not really - but I think that's easy for an author to fumble. You've got to make them distinct and lovable in a small amount of space, without detracting from the MC. Game of Thrones does that pretty well.

    For the most part, I think there's often too few characters. Dialogue between the same two people, for instance, tends to descend into predictable patterns. It's also noticeable when characters seem to live in a vacuum, waiting for the novel to reach them. And supporting roles can give your MC more depth.


    8. Are you turned-off by novels with multiple POV characters? Or do you enjoy that?

    In Game of Thrones, I ended up skipping the last few Daenerys chapters (I've read them since). When I started Clash of Kings, I found myself skipping through to read all of Jon Snow's chapters. I found myself grumbling and getting tired whenever certain POV characters came up. When it gets to that point, it's a major turn off. I would have put most books aside for that. But it's worth noting, there's no way Game of Thrones could be told without the constantly changing POVs, so you have to manage a balance between the needs of your story and the needs of your reader.
     
  14. Legendary Sidekick

    Legendary Sidekick The HAM'ster Moderator

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    1. What kind of characters do you like reading about?

    Fallible heroes who are good and decent people.

    2. What kind of characters do you like writing about?

    Fallible heroes who are good and decent people.

    3. Do physical attributes make you more interested in a character? Or do they not matter much?

    To some extent, but the character doesn't have to have an appealing look. I like the look to match the personality, or relate to the personality.

    4. In your opinion, what makes a compelling protagonist?

    Imperfection, and always trying to do the right thing.

    5. On the flip side, what makes a compelling antagonist?

    Justification of his atrocities. A psycho is dangerous; a sane person who toys with the lives of others as a means to an end is considerably worse.

    6. What's your opinion on "comic relief" characters?

    I love 'em!

    7. Is there such a thing as having too little or too many characters?

    I think a story can get over burdened, but there isn't a set number. As long as the characters are memorable and there aren't too many characters at once, it's fine to have many.

    8. Are you turned-off by novels with multiple POV characters? Or do you enjoy that?


    Similar to #7... how an author pulls off a large number would determine whether or not it's "too many." Each POV needs a unique voice. If each unique voice keeps the story interesting, it's not too many.
     
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