Friday, October 1

Compelling Characters

As an avid reader and writer, I love characters that won't let me go. I've even been known to continue reading a poorly written story simply because I liked the author's leads enough to care what happened to them (even if that included inventing my own version of their story once I put the book away).

Unique and sympathetic characters are one of the hallmarks of a great novel. I might even posit that without a main character exhibiting these qualities no reader will make it through your incredible plot idea. After all, I have to like someone in order to care what happens to them, right?

So, in that spirit, I am sharing four characters who keep me thinking about them long after I've turned off the TV or put down the book:

1) Todd Spencer (The Christy Miller Series, Robin Jones Gunn). I was introduced to Todd when I was sixteen--two years older than Gunn's protagonist, Christy Miller. Christy is ordinary, responsible, and a little desperate for love. The series follows her from this impressionable age through her graduation from college, and Todd is present for it all. Unlike Christy, Todd is a mature, God-seeking, purity-protecting, sixteen year old surfer with "screaming silver blue eyes." And I fell in love with him. Throughout high school and college, Todd was my ideal. I may have even prayed that God would give me a man like him. And while Todd was never perfect--he is uncommunicative to a fault--he represented something I was looking for. I still take these books out once a year to re-read Todd and Christy's story. And maybe even hope a little.

2) Lt. Walter Novak and Allie Miller (A Distant Melody, Sarah Sundin). A Distant Melody is a fairly new book, published this year as Sundin's first novel, but it is easily the best World War II fiction piece I have read. And this has everything to do with Walter and Allie. Allie is beautiful and well-off but longing for a love that is more than convenience. Walter is the stumbling, shy airman with a kind heart. Both consider themselves unattractive. Both struggle with what truth is. And both are delightful. Their chemistry and the appreciation they find in each other hooked me by page thirty-six. Love changes the way we see ourselves and that is definitely true of Walt and Allie's relationship. I couldn't wait to read their happy ending fast enough.

3) Neal Caffrey (White Collar, USA). Neal Caffrey, played by Matt Bomer, is a suave and slick criminal. The intelligent con man who can flirt his way into any situation. Neal could be the poster child for the bad boy every woman thinks she can save. And in his case, she might be able to. Neal's world thrives on shades of gray--except when it comes to his friends and the woman he loves. He'll do anything for her and is trusting to a fault. He's the con man with a heart of gold. And he's a genius creation. One of the best I've ever encountered. I just can't get enough of his story.

What about you? What do you think makes a great character and who are some of your favorites?

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