Character is destiny, part 2: The Character Store

2:41 PM Posted by Miriam Forster

 This is reposted from a six-part character series that I did on my blog, Dancing with Dragons is Hard on Your Shoes. I'll be posting the other bits of the series over the next week or two. Enjoy!

So, now that we've talked about WHICH character should tell the story, we have another problem.

What kind of characters should we have in our stories?

To help you out, I asked my readers to tell me their favorite characters, and I threw in a few of my own as well. (There were a lot, so it will take two posts.) I've also given movie examples of these characters, so you  can see how they work.

The Trickster:  The trickster has a wide range of manifestations, such as the good-at-heart con-artist or the thief with a sense of honor. Tricksters are identified by their practical skills, exceptional intelligence, good powers of observation, and the ability to plan and execute elaborate schemes.  Tricksters occasionally try to go straight, but are usually prevented by the need to protect family or enact revenge. Subsets can include the spy or the super-hacker.

Movies with Tricksters: The Sting, Ocean's Eleven, Gone in Sixty Seconds, The Bourne Identity

Strong and Tortured:  This character is generally tall, dark, handsome and mysterious. They are experts at brooding and hint often at dreadful secrets in their past. The Tortured character is usually wrestling with their past or their future. They're often in love with someone that they try to stay away from, or they may give up love for the greater good. Immortality is a frequent attribute, but isn't necessary.

Movies with Tortured characters: Twilight, Aragorn from The Lord of the Rings.

Coming-of-Age or Coming-into-Power:  This character usually starts out as an insecure, doubting person, who sees themselves as ordinary. As the events of the story unfold, they grow in confidence. In fantasy lit, this character often turns out to be possessed of unusual powers, or someone with a great destiny.  In current day novels, this character is usually a teenager, or a twenty-something finding their place in the world.  Coming-of-Age characters are usually taught by the Wise Mentor.

Movies with Coming-into-Power: Shopgirl, Garden State, Harry Potter, Luke Skywalker in Star Wars, Frodo from Lord of the Rings

The Screw-Up: This character has messed up beyond all recognition, whether through addictions, misunderstandings, or selfishness.  They have a tendency to ignore signs of disaster, and often believe what they want to believe despite the evidence. The story here is a redemptive one, the characters, once confronted with the truth,  are generally forced to make amends in some way. At the end, they usually achieve a sort of peace.

Movies with Screw-Ups: My Best Friend's Wedding. Twenty-Eight Days,


That's all for now. Questions? Comments? Snide Remarks?
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