Posts Tagged ‘Characters’

Image

 

So what in the world happened to me? How is Rea doing? Did Rea kill you and or run away?

These questions have been in boxed to me and it makes me feel loved. Thanks guys for noticing! I have had a rough spring. Between my back and my teeth it seems like every time I get my footing I get knocked down again. So blogging/writing has fallen to the bottom of the list. The good news is that April is nearly over and I’m beginning to see the light again. I’m doing better physically; I’ll be off antibiotics this week and am generally feeling better.

Yay.

So, where do I stand on Rea’s interview? Well, I’m working on part of it but stopped to post this. I know I know, get back to Rea. Well, I will but he’s had to wait as I’m due to write some book reviews and I also have another author interview coming up. Not that he minds, crafty Daithian that he is, I’m sure he’s using his unsupervised time to do all manner of things I’d rather he not do.

This summer (June through August 2014) I’m working on doing something I think that will be kind of cool and this is your invitation to come along on the journey. Each month, I’m going to post writing prompt along with MY version of it and then post it here. I’ll give you seven days to post your own version of the prompt (and these are going to be really short) and then the next week we’ll revise together, edit, and polish our projects.

The idea is to work on skills together. To encourage short projects that become DONE projects, and at the end of the summer hopefully we’ll all have grown, stretched, and be more comfortable sharing with one another.

During the summer I’m also going to be sharing some really cool writing tools I’ve found that are online and free, and also places to submit work.

All of this I’m working on RIGHT NOW, so that the posts will go up automatically, you know in case my face/life/back decide to explode again.

I’ve also got a special treat coming up for the Rea fans, and that should be ready to share this summer as well. So you have lots and lots of things to look forward to, aren’t you glad you stuck it out while the silence was screaming*?

Patience is a virtue.

* Early writer stretch to get you limbered up for the summer. How can silence scream? Tell me in the comments.

A Recipe for Page-Turners.

This is the fourth look at Mirriam Neal’s list, and to keep from being totally lost, I highly recommend reading her list first and then reading my posts.  I’m sharing my thoughts on HER thoughts, so if you disagree or have a cool idea or thought to share, PLEASE do so. I have by no means arrived as a writer, and before I start on sharing the next two things, let me get up onto my bright indigo soap box for a moment.

SOAP BOX MOMENT:

One of the things which makes me grind my teeth as a writer, is the mind-set that you have to be educated to write. By educated, I mean have a degree in English or literature or have had some sort of extensive  training in writing.

These restrictions are such  ELITIST TWADDLE. They really are.

I have seen them crush the heart out of writers, I have seen them set bow the head of the hopeful, and I have felt the stinging lash of them over the breadth of my own shoulders.  You do not need to have a certificate to write. You do not need to have taken any writing courses to write. You do not need to be taught how to write.

Now, before the grammarians or teachers froth at the mouth, let me qualify that statement by saying you do need to learn grammar and sentence structure. The primary reason for this is to be able to communicate your ideas in the way they will be most readily understood.  The secondary reason is so that when you break the rules, you’ll be doing it with purpose and not out of ignorance, and that relates directly to the primary reason.

All the rest of the study of the craft is merely the honing of your own words and your own voice.  Others can help you with your writing, but no one can really get you started. Only you can do that.

END OF SOAP BOX MOMENT:

Onwards!

7. Would you want to read it?

This is a more serious issue than you might think.  There’s a great temptation today to write what sells and not what you want to write. You can see this with all the clone books that pop up when one makes the  New York Times Best Seller’s List, (which is a bit of a three card monte and explain that in the next post) suddenly there are  werewolves and vampires and zombies and elves and demi-gods everywhere you  look.

There’s nothing wrong with meeting the  reader’s appetite for popular things.  The issue arises when you are writing something that goes against the grain of your writer soul to do so. You wind up churning out sub-par work and  giving up the time you could have been using to write your story. Don’t fall into this mud pit, don’t try to follow what’s  hot or popular at the moment, and write that way. You’ll spend a life time chasing fads. Instead write the tale burning in the marrow of your bones. Perhaps, your work will be the one to start a new cycle. But if not, at least you’ll stay true to yourself and be a happier scribe rather than a hollow one.

8. No Insta-Love  (unless they’re all ready in love)

Insta-Love is something that makes  readers roll their eyes.  Two characters are hissing and spitting at each other like mad wet cats, and then suddenly, they are in love, love, love. While it’s true that opposites attract, fighting opposites don’t always make the best couples. This is where the book  The Complete Writers Guide to Heroes and Heroines: Sixteen Master Archetypes,  comes in handy. It shows why character pairings work, and how to bring a greater depth to your romantic entanglements.  My favorite way to deal with romance is to start with two characters all ready working under the steady yoke of friendship and  having an implied back story. Michaeli’ina and Valentine arrive on the scene all ready caring about one another, but the reader doesn’t know how much until. . .well something happens.

A couple of tips for you on  Romance you’ll find below:

1) If you start out with poles-apart characters then you must move them slowly towards one another. Move them from grudging admiration, to genuine admiration, to friendship, then to crisis, and then to realization  of love. (You can kill one of the two off at this point too)

2) Remember what I said about banter? Use the wit of your romantic pairing to underline that they are a romantic pairing (or moving in that direction)

3) Less really is more. It is. The less you show about a couple, the better. As soon as the tension is broken between a romantic interest, their story really needs to end. It’s why the kiss or the wedding used to end the movies and television series.  Now, series that break the tension between love interests mid-season wind up having to really odd and out-of-character things to keep the audience interested.

How about that. We’re only two more posts from being finished with this look at Mirriam’s List, and then I’ll make my big announcement.

*Hint* it has to do with ancient Roman Tombstones.

Encourage one another, Scribes!

This first part is for all the plot-first writers out there. Ready to stretch your writing muscles?  Stop making that face, didn’t your mother tell you it would freeze like that? It will.

Listen to your Mom.

Plot First Writers: Interview your antagonist. That’s right, antagonist, and find out what makes them do, what they do.

Setting: Coffee shop

Style of Interview: Formal You’re interviewing them for a write-up in a prestigious literary magazine so don’t be afraid to use ten-dollar words.

Goal: Discover why they are opposed to the protagonist (other than you NEED them to be) and also what they think of them.
Need ideas? Look at Despicable Me,  Timothy Zahn’s  Admiral Thrawn, or Wayne Thomas Batson’s Morlan from Sword in the Stars.

Need help flushing out your villain? And even your heroes? Check out:

The Complete Writer’s Guide to Heroes and Heroines (9781580650243)   *I highly recommend this book, I’ve broken the spine on mine.* 

I love it because it gives film versions of the Heroes and Heroines and you instantly connect with who they are talking about. I’m well read, but several books like this one referenced characters I wasn’t familiar with and made it cumbersome to figure out what they were talking about.

~`~

World Builder Writers: Look at your Work In Progress and find the plot (this should be able to be stated in a single word or at most three words)

There are roughly 20-30 some plots that writers have recycled since the Greeks (and you thought that recycling was something new)

Tobias, Ronald B. 20 Master Plots And How to Build Them (9781582972398 ) *I highly recommend this book, I’ve worn my copy out*
This book proposes twenty basic plots:

  1. Quest
  2. Adventure
  3. Pursuit
  4. Rescue
  5. Escape
  6. Revenge
  7. The Riddle
  8. Rivalry
  9. Underdog
  10. Temptation
  11. Metamorphosis
  12. Transformation
  13. Maturation
  14. Love
  15. Forbidden Love
  16. Sacrifice
  17. Discovery
  18. Wretched Excess
  19. Ascension
  20. Descension.

Once you have discovered your plot, find  the theme of the story you’re working on, which should be able to be stated in a sentence.
For example:

My plot is  Sacrifice and the theme is Giving up love for material gain will not make you happy.
After you have an idea of the plot and the theme of your book you can start to look at the story and highlight other themes (books usually have more than one)  Keep these posted somewhere you can refer to them from time to time.

Encourage One Another, Scribes! And in the comments below, tell me what kind of writer you are, and which assignment you’re going to take on! I want to know if this helped or not. Make sure to leave feedback and check back NEXT Friday for another skill-building challenge.

When I was younger, I thought that there was something wrong with me because I used to tell myself stories when I was tired and couldn’t get to sleep. No one else I knew did that.  I had to be defective in some way then, I reasoned. Other kids read books when they were tired. I wrote one in my head.

Years later I met a girl who wrote stories, and told her my deep dark weird secret.

She laughed “Oh, I do  that, too” she said as we jabbered like magpies, swapping tidbits on our  stories and enjoying  our mutual fascination with words.  I went home and my feet didn’t touch the ground for days. I wasn’t so defective after all.  There were others like me!  And they did the same strange things that I did!

She never told anyone the stories though, and I began to find that I wanted someone to know the tale  that was swirling around back and forth between my ears.  The next time I was at a sleep over and we  girls were beginning to yawn like exhausted kittens refusing to sleep, I opened my mouth and out popped “Once upon a time…”

Silence. Stares. Then the words every story  teller longs to hear pinged out and shattered the waiting quiet.

“What happened next?”

At that moment I knew, there was no going back.  I also knew that characters I described were shadowy mist-people. None of them had specific features, and they drifted through my imagination in the cookie cutter shape of the heroes and villains I’d read about in other books.

I didn’t need them to be well-shaped, because when I was telling the story, my voice would give theirs inflection, and my face would mimic and mirror what they were looking like in the story.

I painted images in the air, my listeners sitting in thrall to the words, and it was only the plot that mattered.

This mind-set carried over into my writing where plot became king and tyrant. Characters were actors, waiting in the wings for their ques, and setting was nothing more than painted flats to be wheeled out and positioned when needed.

I was happy. I thought everyone wrote like this, then one day, I met a world builder.  This other writer, this other person like me, had characters that were so well thought out and so real, that they breathed on their own. They weren’t puppets she manipulated, they were people.  More than that,  her worlds were places that I wanted to visit, and to live. There was a culture she had created and a language  she had  shaped. Her story people had stories and a history.


I didn’t have  any of that

My poor faceless paper tigers cried into their root beers and sat around looking lost when the met the world builders characters.   Was I writing wrong?  I didn’t know what my character’s favorite foods were, or if they had a language, or a middle name. Some of them I didn’t even think had a last name. But for all their facelessness and vanilla ice cream personalities I loved them,  because they were my characters. I had to fix them and make them more like hers.

I got books out of the library on creative characters and how to build them and how they worked in best-selling books. I learned all about the cogs and pulleys that are needed on the inside of a paper tiger to make them more believable and well-rounded.  I started using the techniques  and after a few weeks, I had ticking clock paper tigers that made a lot of dings and beeps and warpules as they moved about, but they were more  unreal than when they were just paper tigers.  Gears poked out of their elbows,  sprockets dangled from their finger tips, and they lurched about in an ungainly fashion with bleary looking expressions and overstuffed frames.  In despair, I unmade them all and put their pieces away, quietly holding funeral services.

Years later, they came back shaking off the soil and paper ash from their frames and looking at me in mute appeal.  After I climbed down off the ceiling fan and took a better look at my zombies, I found the problem. I was a plot-first writer trying to be a world-builder and had haphazardly crammed their frames with everything I thought they needed to have.  Slowly I removed their favorite ice cream flavors, their middle names, and some but not all of their back story.  It was hard, it was like looking at chair that had twelve arms and sixteen legs and four places to sit, and deciding what I needed to remove and what needed to stay so it was a usable piece of furniture.

I discovered that if I needed to have a paper tiger have the ability to pick locks for the plot’s sake, then they needed to have been taught as a lock smith at some point. The plot need filtered backwards into their story. Bit by bit, line by line, I wove plot need into characteristics and one cold gray morning, I found that my paper tigers were breathing on their own. Their personality and attributes  fit them, and they were no longer actors. Oh sure, there might be a passing resemblance to an actor here and there, but not a concrete point-by-point match. They were not docile any longer either, and began balking at things I wanted them to do solely because the plot needed them to do that.  While that was a good thing in it made the story richer, it also made writing a slower process.

And there are days I’m not certain that I’m doing this “writing thing” the right way.  But at least I’m writing.

Today,  I have characters that are more three-dimensional and really do move and breathe on their own, but I also constantly have to go back and fine tune or re-tune their back story as I more forward with the plot. Plot  for me is still king, but unfortunately for it, it’s not a  sole ruling monarch. It’s balanced now by a quarrelsome and vexatious group of  Representative characters that will not let it have everything its own way.  Only time will tell if there will be a lasting peace between these two things, or whether revolution is brewing underneath all the niceties.

For those who are like me, plot-first writers, be encouraged that you don’t need to character-build the way that a world-builder does. You really don’t, and if you try, you’ll wind up most likely with overstuffed and freakish looking paper tigers. I did.  Try using plot to help you flush out your characters, and if you have to go back and retweak a character, then stop the plot and go back and retweak them.

And for you world builders, well, hang on to your rich and diverse universes, and don’t ever let anyone tell you that you spend too much time on them. You surprise and delight me. Keep on creating and if you have a chance, give a plot-first writer a leg up now and again. It’s really appreciated!

Encourage one another Scribes!

I worked on  Part three of my King Lear fiction post  conclusion all day yesterday, wound up scrapping it three times, and now only have little shreds of the original thought. Trust me, it’s better that way, for now.  The long and the short of all of the thinking I’ve been doing about the subject has brought along another character to my collection. This happened with much weeping, wailing, and gnashing of teeth.

Why? Because I am a plot-driven writer, not a character driven writer. The addition of a character to plot makes me sob, throw things, bang my head into my writing table, and drink more coffee than normal.  I do not enjoy world building, it gives me hives. I do not enjoy writing back story, it gives me boils. So, here I am, slapping my hives and scratching my boils and now he wants to bring you into this process.  And I’m too tired and itchy to fight any more. So, enjoy.

Me: ::HOWL:: ::HOWL:: ::HOWL::

Tal: You know, most Shakespearean scholars believe that was stage direction, not that the actor for Lear was suppose to say the word “howl” And please, do stop dear writer.  You know I arrived some months ago and you just ignored me. I don’t hold that against you. Really, I don’t.

Me: You’re still here? ::headdesk headdesk headdesk::

Tal: ::catches my head gently in his bandaged hands::  Don’t, please. You’ll give yourself a concussion on top of the hives and boils. Here, sit back, I’m going to make you some tea.

Me: But, you’re blind.

Tal: That doesn’t mean I can’t make tea. You know that. Or will know it as you get to know me better. Now, sit there, and don’t slam your head into anything or attempt to drink the ink in the inkwell.

Me:  ::pouting::  You’re just a figment of my imagination! And I don’t want you here! I have enough characters! ::scratches hives on my neck::

Tal: ::Gently washing the tea pot out, dexterous wrapped fingers getting slightly damp:: Well, you are the one that started thinking about real heroes, and going back through the fantastic pool that you have. You were the one that saw you didn’t have a real true hero in the bunch, that they’re all reluctant heroes and unlikely heroes. Well, of course, except for one.  But considering who he’s representing I can understand why you don’t count him as a character. And as I said, I’ve been around for a while, a month or more. You just didn’t want to see me clearly.

Me: ::vicious scratching of hives:: I don’t need another character! I don’t want you here! I don’t want a white-hat hero!

Tal: ::putting tea pot onto the burner and turning on the element:: Now stop that right now, they’ll bleed and get infected. Here ::crosses over to table and pulls out a vial of dark minty-smelling salve. :: Sit still, and don’t fight me on this or it will just be messier and take longer.

Me: WHIMPER

Tal: Don’t be a baby ::gently applies the balm with deft strokes:: Look, first of all, you have to want me here on some level, Scribe, because we’re having this conversation. I can’t exist without your say-so. Secondly, I’m more of a white turban ::grins:: than a white hat.  And third, I am the third to your  to your party of adventurers. I’m the Sage character. While I am younger than most, being blinded by my parents so that I might be an oracle for the sand demons to see through, gives me a level of maturity and compassion your other heroes lack. I make for the third side of things. Threes are good in art and in books as well as plot. I’m also blond. You like blonds. ::He moves back to the stove, his bandaged face and bandaged hands along with baggy trousers and oddly tattooed arms and chest looking very out of place in the kitchen.::

Me: I do not! I don’t have any blond characters!

Tal: Then it’s time that you did. Now the water is boiling. You have a choice between Rooibos and Earl Gray Which do you want?

Me: I want you to go away!

Tal:  :: rummages  around in the cabinet taking out the tea containers, and then turns his head over his shoulder, pointing his face in my general direction.::I’m sorry, you’re out of that. Rooibos, or Earl Gray?

Me: Earl Gray ::whimper::

Tal: None of that now. None of that, dear Scribe. Here. ::spoons out the right amount of tea leaves into the infuser and then pours the steaming water over the dark pungent basket:: I mean to be friends with you. I came out of  your own brilliant mind, and am part of you. It won’t be as dire as you’re thinking, getting to know me. ::carries over steeping tea::

Me: There are two cups!

Tal: I didn’t think that you’d mind. I’m rather parched.

Me: I suppose not. I mean you did make me one after all, and gave me the stuff for the hives. ::removes infuser and sets aside::

Tal: Sharing tea is an act of friendship in many cultures, including my own. So, with your permission dear Scribe, I say we drink to friendship.

Me: ::resigned sigh:: To friendship. ::sip::


Image

I was asked a interesting question not too long ago, and that was “What happens when the hero loses?” It got me thinking that probably the number one issue I see young Scribes battle, is the Superman Syndrome with their characters. What’s the Superman Syndrome? Well, it’s having a character that has no weaknesses. They win every battle, they vanquish every foe, they never hurt anyone’s feelings or do anything wrong. There’s never any internal conflict. In short, they’re perfect. How do I know that young Scribes do this? Well because I did it too, when I was younger. There’s a strange ego-trap connected to a writer’s characters. Because they come from our minds, and are part of us, making them have weaknesses is an anathema. We don’t want to do it. But, it’s important that we do. Why? Read on!

When Superman first appeared as a comic in 1938 (if you’re interested the wiki has a good article on it but, careful where you click I’ll link at the end)  Action Comics #1 he had no real weaknesses.  It was years later that his creators Jerry Siegal and Joe Schuster allowed the introduction of an outside weakness, kryptonite. It appeared first in the radio broadcasts, and later in print but the point of it was, to give Superman an Achilles heel. He needed something that could undo all his superness and make him like everyone else. Why?  Because only when he was stripped of all his superhuman strength did the readers really begin to empathize with him and fear for his safety. When bullets were bouncing off his chest, or he was flying faster than the incoming missile, no one had any worries. But when he was stripped of his larger than life greatness, it was then that the reader saw the core greatness. It’s one thing for a man to stand between the injured police officer and a bad guy with a gun when bullets bounce off his skin. It’s another thing for the same man to stand between the injured police officer  and the fellow with a gun when they don’t.

Giving your characters weaknesses is hard. The weakness needs to fit the character, and it needs to be believable. The entire mythos behind Superman’s weakness brought about by kryptonite is well thought out and unique to his character.  Make sure that you do the same, and tailor the weakness or flaw to your  paper tiger. You’ll be pleasantly surprised by the depth that this unlocks even in the characters you thought you knew well.

I’ll go one further than that. I say not only give them a weakness, but let them lose. Why?  Because when a character loses, especially a hero/protagonist, they gain  a vulnerability and likeability that nothing else can give them. Now I’m not suggesting that they lose against the antagonist, unless it’s briefly, I like a story with a happy ending. But this week, let them lose against something or someone. Put the loss in their past if you don’t want to write it, but let them have a history where they weren’t always the one who triumphed.

In the comments, let me know what weaknesses you are thinking of giving to your unsuspecting paper tigers. Or, tell me why your character doesn’t need to be vulnerable

Encourage one another, Scribes.

Here are two links, as promised. They go to the wiki so careful where you click!

Superman

Kryptonite

Image

I took the photo above, last year at a garden center (which by the way is a great way to beat the winter blahs without breaking the bank) and was delighted at all the detail that the camera picked up.  I love the variegation of the color of the petals, the delicate veining in the blossom.  When you look at the heart of the rose, really look, you find pockets of shadow and light, and so many different colors. The center of the blossom isn’t quite unfurled yet, and there’s this quirked line there that is highlighted by the light. A tiny little line of whimsy in the center of beauty.

I got this shot by backing up, zooming the lens in, and then when it wouldn’t focus the way I wanted to, I re-positioned myself. I’m sure that I looked really weird, backing up, kneeling down, laying down, and half shoving the lens into the rose. I’m sure too, that a professional photographer could tell me all the things I should have done, and didn’t. But for me the delight in digital photography comes from figuring out how to get these kind of shots without the equipment needed for these kinds of shots. It means being creative and persistent and also in making decisions on what I think looks like it would be fascinating as a close up.

What I’m working on this week, is a type of “tightening the camera” in my story. I want to make the details of a character very much like the details you can see in the shot of the rose there.  I need to be very tight on them because I’m trying to keep the tale “character motivated” this time around.  I’ve painted a broader “establishing shot” but because I tend to keep the camera at the end of the boom with characters, I’m really struggling to bring in the focus and keep it interesting.

Doing this also makes things around the edges, blur.  Oh, I have a feeling I’m going to be writing laying down, in a crouch, with my face pressed up against the screen, and all kinds of other ways this week. Pray for me Scribes, and if you dare, try the same thing!  Really show the quirking whimsy in the heart of your beautiful characters. Keep the cameras focused tight. Let me know what happens or if you’re going to try “tight shots” this week.

And if anyone has any tips for writing detail without slowing down the action, feel free to share. 

P.S. I’m pretty good at not “info dumping” I have the other problem. You know, like not saying what color skin/eyes/hair the main character has at all. I mean I know what color they are, but I forget to put that in the story in a non-dump manner.

Image

These are some of my characters. Not all. Some. And as you can see they’re all male. I have another set of lovely and not so lovely females, yet to be drawn by the talented Mirriam Neal. But this grouping always makes me smile. Especially the fellow there on the end.  In fact, I’ve recently had someone ask me “How is Valentine?” to which I promptly responded “Annoyed. I’m not working on his story at the moment so jabber-jaw has run off. If you see him, tell him to send me a postcard.”

To a non writer, this sounds like I am a few fruitloops short of a bowl of cereal, the elevator doesn’t make it to the top of the building, the lights they are on but no one is home.  When I say this however, to someone I’ve shared my writing with, someone who knows my characters, all of a sudden, it isn’t so crazy. For a warm moment, someone has believed in my story enough to inquire after a character that they really liked. For a moment, both that paper tiger, and I, have a fan.  It’s a fun feeling and a bit surreal at the same time.

The first time a friend of mine referred to her characters as people I was a bit taken aback. I thought exactly what any eavesdropper would think, this person is few bricks shy of a load. But as they talked, I began to see their character in my mind’s eye, to catch the way the character would tilt there head or flick their hair as their creator mimed them. What really amazed me was the amount of detail that their paper tiger had. They could tell me what the character’s favorite colors were, how they would react in a given situation, and  whether they could sing or not. They had spent hour upon our crafting, molding, and creating this story person.

Mine were by comparison, shallow and abrupt.  Slowly, I learned that not ever word written down has to move the story forward. There’s no rush to get the tale onto paper when you haven’t sold it yet. It’s all right to spend time building story people, finding out how they think, working out how they would respond to an incident.  In fact, if you do that, readers are much more likely to care about your character.

And after all, that’s what you want as a writer. You want your readers to get caught up and invested in your characters.

I’m very grateful for my writing world-builder friends. They’re the ones that will ask me “Does Valentine like grilled cheese sandwiches?”* Or “Hey, how does Capp shave?”** Or  “If Valentine was in  a convenience store and it was being robbed, what would he do?”*** And because I have been pressed and encouraged into digging more into my character I actually have answers for them.  I think that my eventual readers owe them a debt of gratitude too. After all, it’s because of these writers, these world builders who demand attention to detail, that my characters are the kind they will care about.

I did want to REMIND anyone who was thinking about taking Mirriam Neal up on her offer of crazy pricing on her art, it is now March the 3rd. You procrastinators only have 7 days left of this amazingly generous sale. Don’t miss out on it. Really don’t.  That is all. 

*Yes
*He’d tell you “Very Carefully” but the answer is “With a straight razor”
***He’d try and be a distraction until the authorities arrived

Don’t know what I was talking about, about art sale?
Go Here.
http://shieldmaidenthoughts.wordpress.com/2012/02/25/of-sales-sketches-portraits-and-pencil-sketches/

I was reading Thoughts of a Shield Maiden this morning while sipping my coffee before work. Her  introduction  of her readers to two characters she loves, reminded me that I have a bunch of my own I thought I’d share.  These are the “Stand Up And Cheer” characters I’ve fallen for in books, the ones that make me shake off the cynical glasses and for a moment, see the people around me as they could be.  Oh, there’s also one or two that belong to a friend of mine that I can not wait to see in print.  Ready? Here we go!

 

 Jordan McKell, pilot/captain for hire in  Timothy Zahn’s The Icarus Hunt

Jordan is the narrator of the story, and his wry asides coupled with his relaxed tone and self mastery immediately drew me to like him. He takes down  the bad guys, uses an ingenious way to stop but not kill them, and then complains that his leg hurts. He’s not superman, but he’s got some serious skills.  He’s jaded on his outlook on life (and he has reason to be) but he’s also a loyal friend to Ixil, his first mate.  Jordan also has a serious reluctance to kill. He can kill, and does kill, but he doesn’t like it.  He’s a sardonic, trained, reluctant killer who is trying his best to figure out what is going on in the book without getting Ixil or  himself killed.

He reminds me very much of the character of Sam Spade in The Maltese Falcon by Dashiell Hammet

Because Jordan is keeping secrets, even from the reader( this is often referred to in literary circles as  “an unreliable narrator”), the first time I read The Icarus Hunt  I found  myself wondering “Who is this guy? What’s his real motivation here? ” And even as he acted the knave and the villain, there was  tiny little thread of something that didn’t  quite fit.  When all the pieces of the puzzle came  together at the end of Icarus Hunt, I cheered.

 

*Aurelius   Alma, decorated soldier/ battler of a strange  vampiric disease.
Aurelius  is in the unusual position of being a man of deep faith and honor, and also in desperate need of blood to continue to survive. He’s a ‘type’ of vampire (he doesn’t sparkle) but he doesn’t need to drain someone of all of their blood to be sated.  Aurelius usually incapacitates someone, and then feeds. He also hates himself, but is too afraid to die and be damned.  The complex friction of noble soldier and desperate creature make him a very likable fellow. Aurelius spends his time defending those who really have no champion and helping where and when he can.  He vacillates between wanting to destroy the corruption in himself, and being terrified to have to answer for his sins.  Because the desire for redemption and the need to sate himself are warring in him,  he is a fun character to root for and at the same time, groan over.

Edmund Pevensie, British Youth, Traitor,  King of Narnia

 

By now, most of the world knows who Edmund Pevensie is, he’s the middle son of the Pevensie family and in the world of Narnia a great traitor and later a king.  He starts off in The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, The Witch, and the Wardrobe as the middle brother of the family. Peter and Susan treat him like a child, the same as they would Lucy, and he bucks against this.  He wants to be treated with the same respect that Susan and Peter give one another.   But early on, that playing for approval from his older brother and sister show that he needs the approval of men desperately. He’ll do anything to get it, even lie.    He doesn’t want Lucy to be proven right after he’s doubted her for so long about this land called Narnia. When he returns from there, the desire for approval pushes him to lie. But it doesn’t get him what he had hoped for, and this makes him angry. Now, instead of  working for the approval of his older brother and sister, he plots their downfall.

The reader watches his downward spiral, and at each time, winces as Edmund  stubbornly refuses to give up his own desire for recognition. After his rescue from the clutches of the White Witch, and his time with Aslan, Edmund changes.  Whatever Aslan tells him, is enough recognition and enough forgiveness that the Traitor-Who-Was becomes the Forgiven One. Throughout the following books, Edmund, called “King Edmund the Just” is the one known for his compassion and his mercy even to those who are his enemies.  The solid change in Edmund makes me stand up and cheer, and earns him a solid place in my “Favorite Characters of All Time.”

 

Now, what about you? Tell me in the comments which characters  from books (and why they are) are YOUR “Stand Up And Cheer” characters.

*Aurelius  belongs in part and in whole to Megan Marie Grace Johnson, all rights reserved 😉