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The Difference Between a Good Character and an Exceptional Character

Recently, my Handsome Rouge and I have become obsessed with a fantasy show.  It is based upon a very popular adult fantasy novel that I, GASP, have not read yet.  Initially, my husband watched it on his own while I wrote (thinking I wouldn’t enjoy quite so violent a show), but I was immediately sucked in.

As we have watched the show night after night, we have become attached to certain character, whether they are the “good” or “bad” guys.  I also realized that we were both drawn to the same characters.  At first it wasn’t entirely clear why we were so compelled by these particular ones, but it slowly became apparent that they were more complex than the other characters.

Two of them are noble, brave, and loyal to a flaw, characteristics that have won our hearts.  But one of them is neither good nor bad.  He’s intelligent, cunning, and glutinous, but oh so terribly interesting to watch.  His every decision, whether we agree with it or not, is fascinating as we watch him unweaving the impact his own choices will make on the world.  He feels a deep loyalty to his family even though they lack even the smallest ounce of humanity, and yet, he is also deeply loyal to the truth.  Many times his two loyalties tear him in opposite directions, and he betrays one of them.  And even though this may seem like a sign of a disloyal man, his desire to do what is right makes us forgive him.

As you can see, I’ve given his character and the others a great deal of thought, which makes me appreciate this writer’s skill even more.  None of his characters are forgettable.  Some are a bit more stereotypical than others, but they are all fascinating to watch.  And, I think my favorite part is that no matter how well I feel that I’ve begun to understand them, they constantly surprise me in ways that make their characters even more exceptional.

So how do I create characters as compelling as his?  My only hope is that I understand them so well that they become real to me, as real as any person, because people may appear stereotypical at times, but there is always more to a person than what meets the eye.

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