Friday, July 29, 2011

Character Soup

We often read about creating the perfect character.  A character that will live, breathe and connect with our readers.  That’s one of our goals as authors. 

One character I have seen that seems to meet that goal is Jo March from Little Women.  I hear people, ok  women, comparing themselves to her all the time.  People who have absolutely nothing in common with her claim to be Jo March.  Even the people who pretend the last half of the book doesn’t exist because they think she should have married Laurie (That would have been soooooo wrong) have some sort of connection to her.  I also hear of many people who assume they are character A, B or C from a friend or family member’s novel. 

 We want to create characters that everyone can relate to.  That’s what keeps them coming back, and creates the word of mouth marketing we long for.  Our characters are very dear to us, yet to create the characters that live beyond the pages of the novel we need to let go of them.  We know that readers will interpret the book with their own experiences and they will view the characters in their own way and understanding.  I think it would be hard to let go, hard to listen to fans who just didn’t understand.  Anyone have experience with this?    What do you think about relatable characters.


  1. I think I would have a hard time if someone trashed my characters. It would be like someone trashing a member of my family and that I cannot take. But in the end, it's for the readers, right? It's out of our control as our stories become something bigger than we can imagine.

  2. I think that's a good question. I don't know how I'd feel about a reader that related to one of my characters only via gross misinterpretation -- should I be perturbed that they got it wrong, or happy that they related?

    In the end, I think that the fact they connected with the novel in some way is more important than my little ol' ego.

    I see myself in other characters all the time - but not the _entire_ character. It just comes in shades; there are no complete doppelgangers. And I'm kind of glad for that. [g]

  3. Ruth, I agree, we need to let go and turn it over to the readers. But they are our babies and we will always care what people do to/with them. That's why fanfic makes me uncomfortable. Though I could wish to have fans who love my work enough to want to write stores about them.

  4. Jill, that's the question but I agree, it's most important they connect or they won't be fans.

  5. Character Soup! I love the title of this post, it's so cute!!!

    I love relatable but quirky characters. Something that makes a reader easy to like or feel sorry for but still possesses some off the wall quirks to keep her interesting. I think the key is the right ingredients!

  6. Jen, I think that's a good combination. Someone we can relate to but is just different enough that we don't get bored. Thanks.