Our first tip was have bold characters that are unique. The second tip was, once creating bold characters, make sure they have integrity and remain true to who they are. Character development is fine, but don’t have a silly character randomly get all serious, and don’t have a quiet character randomly give a speech.
And now, for tip #3.
Love your characters.
We all want readers to love our characters…and thus, the first thing we must do is become invested in our characters ourselves. I know it seems obvious, but it’s true.
How can we make readers care and feel for a character if we don’t take the time to do so ourselves? How can we portray characters with integrity to their character if we don’t THINK about how they would act in a certain situation?
If we want others to fall in love with our characters, we must do so ourselves.
There’s a serious temptation to for us to be unfaithful to our characters and wish that they would change; we don’t want to love them for who they are. Fight this temptation! You must love your characters for who they are. Characters can change…but not without reason. If you feel like changing a character just because you’re bored…then you don’t love your characters enough!
Love your characters. That’s how you make others love them.
I hold them tighter, allowing the moment to last. Finally, finally, they’re safe once again.
Then Cassie grunts. “John!” she exclaims, the maturity and earnestness of her tone surprising me.
I whirl around. Perhaps I thought too soon. He’s standing there, beside the body of the dead giant Evil, watching us.
The Red Captain…Nirak.
Crouching, I don’t remove my gaze from him. I sink until I feel my fingers close around the hilt of my sword, and then I stand upright. I slowly, cautiously raise my hand, and in a gentle, drawn out motion, remove my cloak from my shoulders. It jerks and waves as it flows away from my body, alighting delicately on the ground to my right, the way the wind beckoned it.
“I’ve been watching you, ever since you entered Howaito Maki,” his voice comes to me from across the distance of twenty feet between us. “At first, I didn’t know why I found you so interesting. But now, I think I understand.” He gestures with his sword, pointing at me, “Who are you?”
“Do you remember me?” I question. “Your Evil left me for dead in the middle of my own home, and you kidnapped my little brother and sister.”
Nirak pauses, thinking for a moment, and then smiles, “Yes, I remember you. You were the first family we found. I had given my Evil orders not to kill any of you three, so that I might have a higher number for the sacrifice, but my Evil didn’t listen very well. They were too…excited. They felt too…challenged.” I grunt, unnerved and uncertain as to the meaning of his words, and then he speaks once again, “I ask you once more: what is your name, human?”
I grit my teeth and state boldly, “My name is John Hedekira, son of Anthony!”
“John Hedekira,” the Red Captain repeats. “Indeed, you are interesting. Do you even know what ‘hedekira’ means?”
I grunt; I don’t know. I didn’t even know my last name had any significant meaning. “I’d stop acting so confident,” I say, trying to change the course of our conversation. “You’re outnumbered and the prisoners have been saved! You can stop asking questions, because I don’t feel like answering anymore!”
Nirak lowers his head, baring his white teeth, his yellow eyes both glaring and smiling at me, and he questions, “Are you sure?”
The sound of feet pounding against the ground fills the air. Across the courtyard, exiting the gate in the next wall, a squad of thirty Evil emerge, each one bearing a long pike and a short sword. I look about warily, watching as the thirty Evil fall upon the dazed army of Castrum Fortress, and then I swiftly return my gaze to Nirak. The Red Captain raises his sword. “This fight is not over.” And he charges me.
I hop backwards, accepting his blow against my blade, making sure I’m covering both Cassie and Luke. Out of the corner of my eye, I see Faith and Bernard approaching. Good, maybe they can get Cassie and Luke out of here. But Nirak…I’m focused on him. I feel as if…this is destiny that we should fight, and I kill him—
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Two days ago, I posted an article about how disturbing it is that we humans, as a society, have a twisted appreciation for violence. I was condemning the fact that we enjoy watching violence and stated that violence desensitizes us, thus making violence more acceptable in society. I wanted to know why we felt this way. Why do we enjoy violence? We do we even, at time, crave seeing it? Why does it feel good (say, from a contact-sport perspective)?
One blogger, Karandi over at 100WordAnime, challenged me in the comment section, stating that she disagreed with me. Most people are not desensitized by the violence in movies or video games, and their feelings of real violence vs. story-violence are quite separate.
Now I don’t know if I agree with Karandi entirely, but I had an experience this morning that caused me to consider her words in greater detail.
If the following makes you feel uncomfortable, please forgive me.
I’m in college and I live in an apartment with my sister and one of her friends. We noticed, to our dismay, that we have a bit of a mouse problem. So we bought a mouse trap–the sticky/glue kind, that traps the mice but doesn’t kill them. My sister forgot to buy mouse poison to place on the glue traps, so, while the mice would be stuck, we would still have to do the dirty work of getting rid of them.
Being the man of the house, I stated quite calmly that I would be happy to “finish the job”, in the event that we caught a mouse.
Well, I walked downstairs this morning to find not one but TWO mice caught in a trap. One of the critters was smack-dab in the middle of the trap, the other one was caught only by the tail. Grimly satisfied that we had caught them, I proceeded to get the broom…but then I decided that the broom was too soft, and I probably wouldn’t be able to kill the mice.
So I went back upstairs to get my shoe. After pulling the mouse trap out, I looked down at the two little things. And hesitated.
I wasn’t sure what made me pause. Maybe it was the fact that, with a shoe, I would have to get close to them in order to smack them. Maybe it was because, when they saw me, they started panicking, and writhing, trying to get away.
Did I feel bad that I was going to kill them…? Was I just afraid of them?
I didn’t really get it. I watch plenty of violent shows; some of my favorite anime are very violent. I imagine myself as the characters, taking down Homonculi, Titans, you name it. I’m positive that, if I were in those same circumstances, I would be powerful, strong, determined, and fearless.
And now I’m looking down at two mice, trying to be a man, but afraid to finish the job.
I didn’t have my contacts in, so these things were just two brown fuzz balls. There was no sense of empathy as a result. Honestly, I believe my hesitation simply arose from the fact that killing them was going to take deliberate action. I didn’t feel “guilty” for what I was about to do. I think that, at heart, I was afraid to kill, simply because…
…well, just because.
There’s something about killing that I find scary. Even if I’m killing two pesky mice that keep on eating our food. Once you kill something, it’s gone, and you are responsible. It doesn’t matter that it was for a perfectly good reason. There is still something scary about hitting something until it’s dead.
Well, once I reasoned that they could possibly escape, I did it. I was, after all, the man of the house. It would’ve been wrong for me to leave the dirty work to my sister or her friend. We also had another woman and her 5 year old sister sleeping over. I had to finish the job before any of them could wake up and witness the dirty work.
After I hit the mice once, any hesitation thereafter was nonexistent; it seemed nicer to end it as quickly as possible.
Once the deed was done, I felt satisfied with myself, but I was also shaken. It wasn’t death that bothered me, but killing specifically. I find it interesting that, although I thought I would’ve had no problem killing them, I ended up feeling disturbed. Even though I thought violence was cool and empowering, I really didn’t have it in me to behave in such a manner.
And…well, that’s my story.
Violence, I suppose, oftentimes IS separated from what we see in movies or anime. We are not what we watch.
Whether we like to admit it or not, we all enjoy watching a well-choreographed fight scene. It’s impressive to us. It’s artsy. It might even be “beautifully” done.
Let’s not forget that it’s exciting…it’s attractive…and we can even find ourselves “getting into it”, throwing punches at bad guys and delivering the final blow with the hero or heroine.
Does it ever bother you that we are like this?
Think about it.
I’ll never forget the time I was watching the Hunger Games in theaters, back in 2011. It was the scene where Clove gets killed by Thresh. Thresh takes Clove and slams her against the wall of the Cornucopia until she’s dead…and everyone in the audience cheers.
I was honestly bothered by this. Who cares that Clove was about to kill Katniss? Who cares that Clove was definitely messed up? We’re still talking about one human killing another (Thresh killing clove). Why does this merit a cheer?
I don’t think cheering is the response that Collins (author of the Hunger Games) wanted.
Why are we obsessed with violence? Why do we enjoy it, laugh at it, or think that it’s cool?
Is there some deeper meaning behind our desires?
Not to get too philosophical, but I personally believe that humanity has a fallen nature. It’s not hard to see evidence of this. That being said, I believe that we formerly had a pure, good nature before the Fall of Humanity (yes, I’m talking about Adam and Eve).
Thus, I’m wondering, does our desire for battle, our love of violence and action, come from our fallen nature? Or the original human nature God gave us before the Fall?
These are questions that the characters in my book struggle with. Is there a right or wrong reason to fight? What should your intention be while fighting? What should your disposition be? Angry? Calm? Indifferent? Passionate?
What do you think? Are you bothered by how “into” action and violence our culture is? Do you see this in yourself? Is it a good thing or bad thing?
Interested in buying Elithius, my fantasy novel? For a limited time only, Elithius is 99 cents as an eBook here. Don’t miss out.
Faith Pinck is the female lead in Elithius. She starts out as an innocent 16-year-old, wanting to “make the world a better place” and “find something fulfilling to do”.
She never thought that she would end up doing that alongside John Hedekira, becoming a full-fledged warrior in the meantime.
Faith’s theme is about the courage to do what’s right, to stand up against evil, even though you might be small. It’s about hearing the voice of truth underneath the lies that world tries to tell us. It’s about retaining innocence and a sense of honor and virtue, even though the circumstances make us feel like turning into monsters. It’s about holding on to love and teaching others to do so, even when they are tempted to hate.