Quick apology for not posting over the weekend! BEA/BookCon ended up being way more hectic than expected, and it was either blog or sleep. (We all know how that situation turns out.) I promise I WILL gush all about the weekend soon, though!
In the meantime, today I’m participating in the new Today’s Word Nerd Ponderings blog chain. (Learn more about it here.) The prompt for this month’s chain is:
There are all sorts of characters that we create and read about, but like people in real life, we are only drawn to some. What makes you love or hate a character? What do you love about your favorite character(s)? And that’s it. You can talk about one of your own characters you really relate to, or I don’t care, a TV show you watched as a kid. Tell us about why you are going to name your kid after Blues Clues when you grow up.
So, the characters I like are pretty across the board in terms of what they look like, and what they’re into, and all the rest of that stuff. But I’ve found that I’m definitely drawn to a certain type of personality. Specifically: snarky, vaguely selfish characters.
A character doesn’t necessarily have to be all witty-one-liners and talking-back-to-authority to fulfill my definition of snarky. I’m more into the sort of pokes-fun-at-everything or slightly-annoyed-by-everything internal monologue. Think Katniss Everdeen (The Hunger Games), or Anna Oliphant (Anna and the French Kiss), or Simon Spier (Simon vs. The Homo Sapiens Agenda).
I’m into this obviously because it’s super entertaining, but also because I too am a snarkmonger in my internal monologue (but generally not so much out loud). So I connect a lot with that type of voice in first person narratives, because it’s similar to what runs through my own head. (Although, let’s be honest, I’m not nearly as witty as YA protags.)
Likewise, I really like selfish characters because I’m selfish myself. As much as I love Katniss, I’m not the person who would volunteer as tribute. (I’d be like, “Tough break, kid,” then feel guilt and shame for how terrible a person I am for the rest of my life.) (But I still wouldn’t change.) (Because hello, the Hunger Games are scary.) But even Katniss isn’t always selfless, and it is these parts of me that make me connect with her (although it’s her selfless parts that make me admire her).
One of my favorite protagonists of all time is Sam from Lauren Oliver’s Before I Fall. I’ve heard a lot of dislike for her, because she spends the majority of the novel as kind of this self-centered brat. But I love her because of her brattiness. She doesn’t conform to the usual “likeable” character status quo. She doesn’t always try to do the right thing and she spends a good deal of her story mired in her flaws. But she still does grow as a person and finds redemption in the end.
It’s lovely to see someone like that–someone who feels just as messed up and terrible as I am, who still manages to turn things around and find the strength to be a good person by the time her book closes.
So yeah. That’s a basic overview of the traits that define some of my favorite characters. (To recap: I like not-good people who are funny.) (Which explains why I was totally Team Ultron during Avengers 2.)