January 10, 2012

Fangs or Claws: It's All About Characters

On my review blog today, I am hosting Sallie Lundy-Frommer. She's the author of Yesterday's Daughter, "an emotionally laden paranormal vampire romance novel woven with layers of betrayal, love and loss."

Since her book is in the paranormal genre, I asked her to speak to people who don't like this new wave of paranormal books. Her post was interesting and hit the nail on the head. It's really all about characters and story. If the character is memorable, who cares if he/she has fangs or claws?

I'm always intrigued by people who only like one genre. To me, a great story is all about the characters. Even with books I love, the characters stay with me more than the plot line. The reason I never want a good book to end is because I've become attached to the characters. I want to know what happens to them after the last page.

My husband would disagree, he's all about action and story development. I can look past a slower-paced book with vivid characters. But there's never enough action for me to endure weak, one-sided characters.

Memorable Characters Need to Be:

FLAWED

No character, whether human or not, is interesting without personality traits that lead them astray. I'm a sap, so in the end I want them to come out on top. But I don't mind if that fulfilling end takes books to reveal. For me, the flaw has to be something the character can ultimately overcome, but not without hard work and dedication.

RELATABLE

Even a vampire is relatable if done right. When reading Twilight, I often forgot that Edward was a vampire and Jacob a wolf spirit. They were two boys fighting over the girl (who in my opinion wasn't interesting enough for either of them!). Love, fear, disappointment... these are things all of us can relate to on some level or another.

LAYERED

I like a good tease. Truly. A good person with shady moments is so much more entertaining than a clearly defined hero or villain. I don't mind being confused, as long as there's a believable excuse for straddling the fence between good and evil. Being one-dimensional is a death sentence for a character.

SADDLED

This goes back to the idea of the flaw, but it gives the reader a reason to love the character flaw and all. I need to know why the character struggles, not just that he/she does. Did they make a poor choice and are dealing with the aftermath? Did Fate hand him/her a raw deal? There might be a better word choice, but I see my character saddled with an event, something they can't easily shake off.

Of course, it's hard to truly define why one character stays with me and another doesn't. But the attributes described above are always part of that memorable character. Then there's a pinch of magic thrown in. Sometimes it's the mood I'm in when reading a particular book, sometimes it's something I can't put my finger on.

What makes a character memorable for you? Or do you find yourself more wrapped up in story and action?

2 comments:

julieglover.com said...

Character. Of course, I love a good plot, but I have long said that without someone in the novel I can relate to or root for, I don't care what happens. I like your adjectives: flawed, layered, saddled.

Tia Bach said...

Thanks for your comments, Julie. Particularly about my words... I was worried nobody would get saddled. ;-)