I’ve blogged in the past about my favourite books and it’s hardly a surprise that those books contain some of my favourite characters. Instead of repeating myself here I’ve tried think about what makes a character compelling. This is what I’ve come up with;
They’re flawed and you wouldn’t necessarily want them in your life.
I know a lot of readers don’t enjoy a book if they don’t like the characters but come on, bad people are fabulously interesting (and by the way I believe most people have a bit of good and bad in them). It helps if you are inside their head, or at the very least see things from point of view. Think Barbara in Notes on a Scandal, odious, needy, obsessive and oh so compelling.
They’re different and either intentionally or unintentionally funny as a result; a character that pushes against the norm is always going to get my vote. Bernadette in Where’d You Go Bernadette was a stand out character for me in 2013.
They’re brave, resourceful and do the things that the rule abiding person within me wouldn’t dare to in their situation;
I adored Minny’s character in The Help and still can’t get the image of her presenting her chocolate pie with the ‘special’ ingredient to Miss Hilly.
Their situation is often hopeless. I’m thinking of Emma Bovary (Madame Bovary) and Lily Bart (House of Mirth) here. Two characters who really got inside my head. The sense of their suffocating in the life that had been set out for them was overwhelming. Whatever they did to escape or break up the monotony was ultimately futile.
There’s an innocence about them; Jack in Emma Donoghue’s Room, Christopher in the Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time, Rachel Joyce’s Harold Fry. All three characters were in wildly different situations but they had a unique, beguiling and innocent way of looking at life.