Repugnant #atozchallenge

Fictional character traits

Repugnant — disgusting, offensive.

No writer pulls a character out of thin air. Even the distasteful character is based on someone, or should I say, particularly the repugnant character. Maybe he starts out as quasi-disgusting and over time exceeds expectation. Maybe not.

Are they always the bad guys?  No.

A lead character can be repugnant. Take Bella in Twilight. Her entire character arc revolves around two men. Her character pushes the gender stereotype to such heights, it’s sad watching millions of young girls devour the story. It’s a vampire movie, I hear you. It’s also easy to classify as stereotypical to its bones.

A repugnant villain is a different story. Hannibal Lecter is repugnant in Silence of the Lambs, but he makes the story. By the end of the movie, we hardly remember Special Agent Clarice Starling, but everyone remembers Hannibal. 

How about the repugnant romantic relationship in Lolita?

A middle-aged professor becomes obsessed and romantically involved with his twelve-year-old stepdaughter. The story works hard at trying to sell the older man’s innocence and the girl’s sexual scheming.

It didn’t work. I read Lolita only with the acceptance they were both sick.  And I read it when I was younger, easier moved by terms like literary works of art. This celebrated classic and Nobokov’s attempt at making the reader complicit in his characters’ games of lust would not fly for me today.

Image: pixabay,wikipedia


Quiet #atozchallenge

Fictional character traits

Quiet — silent, private

The opposite of the loud character four posts back.

The character we watch move through the story saying few words, yet expressing everything in quiet manner. The character we want to hear from, who keeps us guessing. When such character speaks, we listen. These can be characters affected by abuse, war.  Artistic minds who need to hear themselves think, for whom too many words get in the way. Often, they appear as characters with quiet courage.

From Miss Honey, in Matilda by Roald Dahl to Neville in Harry Potter, the quiet character brings a nerdy, attractive quality.

In genre fiction, we have the reserved hero who doesn’t say much, yet attracts all the attention. The enigmatic character for whom words should carry weight and are not to be used without reason. This character may have gone through tragedy, and is still recovering.

This may be a character we study in peaceful meditation for some time before manipulating him into existence. The character’s air of silence, and perhaps air of mystery, comes from someplace within the writer, with clues and underlying reasons to be given for the character’s prolonged silence. As such, the quiet type may require extra careful examination.

Images: pixabay

Powerful #atozchallenge

Fictional character traits

Powerful — strong, influential.

The characters world leaders can learn from, or who bring world leaders into our living rooms. Take Brian Keith’s Roosevelt in The Wind and The Lion, Meryl Streep’s Thatcher in Iron Lady —  political movies give us the powerful of the world, their strength evident in goals and influence.

Power comes in many ways. How does a character influence our culture, our behavior? I read someplace Dart Vader had more people imitating his respiratory voice than (likely) any other character.

In sports stories, characters are powerful  in inspiring young people to go out, play ball. Try harder. These characters access and influence our subconsciousness, their names staples of our discourse. The phrase I’ll go Rocky on you is clear to anyone who’s watched a Rocky film. 

The powerful, memorable character is the very mortal immortal who is either an obsession or becomes one during development.

I see common ground between writers and such characters. Admiration, maybe. Fascination. Love. Someone we’re trying to emulate, decipher. What better way to understand a character than take him apart piece by piece, determine and understand his emotional core, then put him back together, only better?


Image: Pixabay, wikipedia

Outgoing #atozchallenge

Fictional character traits

Outgoing – sociable, fun-loving.

Cameron Diaz in Sex Tape, Ben Stiller in various roles, the outgoing character is fun-loving and ready to party. Obviously, comedy does well with the character, but she also lightens things up in drama.

Writing a well-developed, fun-loving type takes a certain writer. Janet Evanovich has made a career out of writing steamy romances filled with outgoing, self-deprecating characters.

It’s an exercise in endurance and character development. It could also be a personality type — giving 110% energy to playful extroverts would tire me in short order. We were all made to be different. 

An outgoing character could be written for the sake of keeping up appearances — say a character with marital problems, unwilling to show the public her woes. Or a character used to contrast the main character: the subdued, mysterious type. Or — and this is popular in YA romance — shy opposite outgoing.

In a short story called Boy Meets Girl, shy boy meets outgoing girl and things get a little crazy.

The contrast is used to show their lives change when he learns to open up and she learns not to judge a book by its cover. If the fun character is to read genuinely fun-loving rather than crazy, writing her is a show of love for character and genre.

Images: amazon, pixabay