Five Fictional Heroes


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.
© Dana Rothstein | Dreamstime Stock Photos
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?
Mr Darcy
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.
Mr Micawber
 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.
Jack Reacher
I feel no need to care for Lee Child’s hero. He likes himself enough for both of us. The books are fun, though.
George Smiley
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.
Lucky Jim
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.

How to be an Introvert


Jane Austen understood the power of the quiet person. Anne Elliot, her heroine in Persuasion, sits in the background to play the piano while the extroverts dance, but the hero finally learns to appreciate her quiet depths. If you find it exhausting to be part of a noisy group, or wonder how other people manage to tell anecdote after story, making the room rock with laughter, you may be an introvert, too.  
An introvert’s picture of bliss? Dreamstime Stock Photo
Characteristics
As an introvert you may find reflection and calm more energising than the liveliness of social interaction. Not all introverts are the same. Andy longs for a remote island where he can think in peace while Mike thoroughly enjoys a drink with a few friends, and even loves a party – so long as he can take some time out to recharge his batteries alone later. You may be easily over-stimulated by noise or flashing lights and prefer to work in a silent room. Maybe you turn the TV off, for the peace, while your partner turns it on for the company.
Introverts make a difference
Whatever your preference, remember it’s OK to sit and think. Susan Cain, in her book, Quiet, the Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking, urges you to let go of your guilt. Although today’s world seems to value fast talkers and people who think on their feet, there’s a place for those who inhabit the other end of the spectrum. Einstein, Ghandi, the Dalai Lama and Warren Buffet are all introverts who have made a significant difference to the world.
Warning
Beware of over-thinking. That can be an introvert’s curse. You may love Facebook. because it gives you the opportunity to reflect on what you want to say before posting your comments. On the other hand, you may never post at all if you consider your words so carefully that you tweak them for days, until they’re no longer relevant. A would-be author can fail to get beyond writing chapter one, by spending every minute of his writing time perfecting the first 3,000 words.
How others see you
Ask an extrovert what she thinks, and you may be surprised by the way she views you. “James sits quietly through a whole meeting, then says something so profound that we all have to stop and rethink,” remarked one of James’ colleagues. Another self-avowed extrovert, Terry, said she was terrified of the introverts at work because they seemed to her to be sitting silently and judging her.
Team work
Jane, a cheerful, noisy talker, said she wished her quieter colleague, Sarah, would say something (anything) to her so they could get a dialogue going. She likes to hone her ideas aloud, while Sarah prefers to think things through and only speak when she feels she has something useful to say.
Would Jane and Sarah make a great team, or should they keep away from each other and stick with work colleagues who work in a similar way?
Does society need people from across the whole spectrum, from the wildest rock-star extrovert to the silent monk in a priory, or should quiet people make more of an effort to make themselves heard?