Writing: Relatable Characters

So, with my writing, I’ve realized that a lot of my characters are “perfect” characters.  I love this, but I know that others don’t, so I’ve been thinking a lot about what kinds of characters there are, and why people like them.

In the end, I came up with two kinds of characters.

First are the relatable characters.  For this, I use Percy Jackson as an example.  He is super clumsy and a generally average kind of person, but he also has a fantastic set of skills (not to mention a fair amount of luck), such as being able to think quick on his feet.  I will further call him realistically awesome because, well, he’s an awesome character, which makes us admire him.  However, we can still totally relate to and understand his reactions to the things that he has to face.  I mean, I have to admit, if I suddenly learned that I was a demi-god, I would likely make a lot of the same decisions that he does.  No, I don’t think it’s a realistic notion, suddenly learning that I’m a demi-god, but the way he acts through the story makes me really connect to the idea, anyway.  This, in my opinion, is an awesome kind of character.  No matter how unrealistic or out-there your plot line might be, just making the protagonist someone that you can relate to so very easily makes the whole thing much more believable.  All-in-all, the least risky idea for a protagonist when writing.

The second type is the generally unrelatable characters.  This would obviously be a much trickier type of character to play with, since making them generally unrelatable would make them harder for the reader to connect with.  Of this, I give you two categories: the horribly average characters, and the perfect characters.

First, I will talk about the horribly average characters.  For this, I will use the example of Bella from Twilight.  I have to admit, I hated these books, and 90% of my reasoning for hating them was entirely because I hated Bella.  Yes, she is average and seemingly relatable as she seems to have a perfectly average life up until her move to Cold Ass Wherever, but to me she just wasn’t a character that I could relate to at all.  After all, when analyzing her character, she has absolutely zero depth.  She has no interests (except, apparently, the tall pale dude who wants to eat her), no skills, and no goals.  Apparently, some people actually do feel like they can relate to her, but I simply cannot understand how!  After all, no person is without skills or interests.  Everyone has something they like to do, something they hate, and some goal or dream.  Bella has none of this.  She is a completely empty character.  To me, this is, all in all, the worst possible kind of character, although apparently not the worst path to tread considering how successful the Twilight books were.  In my mind, though, if you know someone who likes these books, you should ask them why.  If they say they feel connected to Bella, then get them some help, because the only way that they could relate to her is if they are themselves empty of all emotion.

Now, I will talk about my personal favorites, the perfect characters.  I know, I know, a very risky character, as it’s hard to relate to someone who is perfect.  However, I love them, anyway.  For my example, I will use Tom Riddle and Dumbledore from Harry Potter (note how I said Tom Riddle, not Voldemort…).  Now, these two I find particularly interesting, because you don’t often find two perfect characters in the same story.  Tom Riddle I am particularly fond of, the boy genius who appears to be the best at everything, with only Dumbledore able to see through his innocent mask.  Of course, Tome Riddle was able to understand Dumbledore more than others, too, which made it more interesting.  This kind of thing can create a great rivalry setting, which is probably one of the reasons why the two characters were so successful in Harry Potter.  After all, no matter how much people don’t like perfect characters, they will always love to watch the active rivalry between two such skilled characters.  Now, why do I love them?  Well, because there is no such thing as a perfect character.  Everyone will always have a fault or flaw somewhere, you just have to find it.  My favorite part about building up these perfect characters is later tearing them down in some way or another, then detailing their journey back to perfection.  After all, the bigger they are, the harder they fall, so naturally a perfect character who falls would take a much longer time getting back on their feet than, say, Percy Jackson, who is nowhere near perfect, and so always seems to bounce back quickly.

Anyway, this was on my mind and I couldn’t sleep, so I decided to share.  Now that I have dumped the contents of my brain everywhere, I will return to the bed place.  Please, though, let me know your thoughts!  What are your favorite characters?  Why??

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