Today there is awesome happening around the blogosphere. Elana Johnson, Jen Daiker and Alex Cavanaugh have teamed up to create The Great Blogging Experiment.
Why an experiment? Because with one topic to discuss the theory is that each post will be unique.
The topic: What makes a compelling character?
For me it's a combination of two elements -- voice and flaws. I want someone who is human.
Sure, they can be a million miles away from who I am, but I want to open the page and connect with them. Why would I spend 300 pages with them if I didn't?
I mean, I don't live in a world where teens kill each other on live TV to satisfy the government like in The Hunger Games, but I cared about Katniss. Why? She's sarky, feisty, loyal, confused, tough but vulnerable. She sacrifices herself to protect her sister and, despite coming out the other side alive, has to live with the nightmares.
And the best thing? I get to know her as the story progresses.
I'll admit I never know everything about my characters when I start a new wip. For me, reading a new book/writing a new wip, is like making a friend.
The voice comes first, giving a flavour of who they are. But there needs to be something there to make me want to stay talking/reading them. There may no be a magical ingredient, unless you are Harry Potter, but the one thing I find compelling is this -- they are human.
I don't want perfect. Sure, it would be nice if we lived in a world like that, but we know we don't. I want to see their flaws. Show me weakness, fear, the odd little habits that make no sense to anyone but themselves. I want to see them evolve as a person. A character never shows who they are straight away, it's waiting to be discovered in the time you take to get to know each other.
Just like making a friend, it's knowing there is something else there. That, for me, is what makes them compelling.
Happy Friday. :)