We discovered that, while there are a lot of fascinating characters out there, there are more than a few we'd rather not meet. For instance, Spike in the "Buffy, the Vampire Slayer" series. We all thought he was a wonderful character, but would we like to meet him? No thank you. Especially in his earlier personna. But he is a well-written character. Sherlock Holmes is another interesting character, but he's also egotistical, a drug addict, and conceited. I'll avoid him too, thank you. I wanted to visit with Dumbledore of the "Harry Potter" series, but Nean pointed out that he rarely answered a question. He always made you work for an answer, so that could be a very frustrating conversation. Yes, he made you learn, but still...
From there, our discussion went to the "Smallville" series and we talked about the characters there - how Clark seems too full of himself, Lana is just plain irritating, Jonathan Kent (before his demise) was either too angry or too "aw, gee, Clark, be a good boy, and keep your secret". Martha was okay - nothing about her stood out, which is good in a secondary character. Then there were Lex and Lionel. Especially Lex. If you know anything about Superman, you know he's a bad guy, and yet on the surface, he comes across as a caring person. He is the ultimate villain - and very well written. He's got layers upon layers. A very complex person. He comes from an ultra-rich background, and yet had a very poor upbringing as his father was manipulative and, at times, cruel. Lex's background, and his future, were shaped by how his father treated him. And Lionel's change over the years also add layers to his characters.
And that's what it's all about. Layers. These two characters are the most complex, and the most interesting of the group. And yet, they are the villains.
Many writers fail to give their villains, their antagonists, the complexity needed to make them worthy characters. They are two-dimensional - all evil with no reasons for why they are that way. Granted, if you are writing a story about the ultimate evil - demons, etc., there may be no reason beyond their makeup is evil, but they can have multi-dimensions within that darkness.
The next time you read a book or watch a movie or TV, pick out a character you like - or don't like - and figure out why? Has the writer created a multi-dimensional character with layers? Reasons for their actions? Then check out your own writing. Are you building a solid foundation for your characters to act as they do?
Birthdays: Lucan, William Cullen Bryant, Andre Malraux, Terrence McNally
Tips and Teasers: Finish this using chocolate, watch, fan, ice: When the lights went out, I was….
Thought for the day: "The real writer will write. He has something inside of him that must come out. If a person has a book in him, he will sit down and write it." – Kurt Vonnegut