Tuesday, April 03, 2012

A-Z Challenge C is for Characters

Free photo from http://www.morguefile.com/
Has anyone ever said to you, "I'll have to be careful what I say to you otherwise I'll end up in one of your books"? Nobody I know needs to worry because none of my characters are based on real people. My characters purely live in my mind. And it's funny because I often wonder whether the reader sees my characters in the same way as I do.

When you think of your favorite characters in literature I think you'll agree with me that it's not what they look like (particularly), it's what they do that makes them so memorable.

Miss Haversham from Great Expectations, for example, is just an old girl in a wedding dress, isn't she? Pretty odd in itself, but she goes much deeper. She's worn the same outfit (minus a shoe) for decades, she's turned all the clocks off, and it's her dearest wish to break the heart of some poor boy using her adopted daughter Estelle as the bait. Once she's broken poor Pip's heart into smithereens you'd think she was the most evil character you've ever imagined. But she's not. She genuinely loves Estelle who returns the affection. And in the end she repents - even if she does go up in flames. 
I think you'll agree, she's a pretty deep character who Charles Dickens created by adding layer upon layer of thought-provoking actions and quirks.

Let's think of another one.  

Scout Finch from To Kill a Mockingbird. Just a little girl with a great nickname who doesn't like dresses. Again, it's how she is that is spectacular, not what she looks like: she has an enormous social conscience, she's ready to fight anyone to defend what she believes is right, and she is baffled by many social conventions such as racism. And she never holds back in stating exactly what's in her mind even if she does shock her listeners. She's such a rounded figure that the reader is certain that Scout, who still behaves like a little girl when she climbs onto Atticus's lap, will stay exactly like she is as she grows into a capable and likeable adult.

Who's your favorite character in literature? And what makes them so great (good or bad)?