The best fictional characters jump off the page. Full of charisma, they have a little quirk or two and maybe a fatal flaw. Who cares what they look like? Your imagination fills that in for you. Start a conversation about your favourite novel or fictional hero, though, and you may be surprised at how much you disagree with other people.
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Whether you swoon over Mr Darcy or adore Jack Reacher, maybe it’s worth wondering why he appeals so much to you. It could tell you something about your own personality and values.
Here are five male characters from fiction: do you love them or hate them?
No matter how hard I try, I do not like this Pride and Prejudice hero. He may be strong, have hidden depths of kindness and generosity, but I can never forgive him for his rudeness to Elizabeth Bennett at the Ball. Not only does he say she is not handsome enough to tempt him, but he also has no interest in women “slighted by other men.”
Now, I don’t mind him holding those views, but I do mind him talking about them in a voice loud enough for other people to hear. To me, that is cruel and unforgiveable. No amount of kindness to his sister, or even to Elizabeth’s family, is enough to make me forget that, in his heart, he does not care whether he hurts someone’s feelings.
Anyone who has ever suffered the indignity of being a wallflower at the dance, even if it was only for ten minutes, will know what I mean.
I love this Dickens character, from David Copperfield. He is foolish, lazy and selfish, but I forgive him everything because of his optimism. The glass is always about to overflow, until disaster strikes. Yet, he bounces back. Something will always “turn up.”
“Annual income twenty pounds, annual expenditure nineteen and six, result happiness. Annual income twenty pounds, annual expenditure twenty pounds ought and six, result misery.”
My finances, like his, rely heavily on something turning up.
I feel no need to care for Lee Child’s hero. He likes himself enough for both of us. The books are fun, though.
John Le Carre’s fictional spy is so sad, my heart goes out to him. He’s too clever for his own good, he’s married to a rich woman who deserts him and he has no problem with killing people. I think it’s maybe the spectacles that I love. Thank you, science, for contact lenses.
Is it possible not to identify with Kingsley Amis’s downtrodden loser? As he lurches from one disaster to another, he fights intellectual snobbery. I cheer for him as he wins tiny childish battles against authority by making faces behind his boss’s back. I defy anyone who has ever done that to fail to identify with Jim.
What does all this say about me? That I admire kindness, self-control, optimism, childish humour and the valiant underdog.I hate cruelty, self-love and snobbery.
How about you?
Writing your own fiction? Here’s what Novel Writing Help has to say about creating characters.