My Favorite Character: Fantasy and Characters
Do you love it when your favorite character feels like they could be your best friend or do you prefer when you feel like you are the main character of the story?
It is a subtle difference but shapes what books you read and which ones you absolutely love.
For me, I tend to like it when the character feels like my best friend and I could step into the world of the story as another member. I don’t like being forced into being the character and being forced into making her choices whether I agree or not. Those moments have me groaning at the author, character, and book!
What it comes down to is which point of view (POV) the story is written in. Really!
George R.R. Martin wrote the Song of Ice and Fire series in third person multiple – in other words, every chapter is in the voice of a different character and the whole story is told using the “she” and “he” pronouns. This is very similar to how Harry Potter was written too!
I get into this type of story and it is very common in epic fantasy where multiple characters abound. For the author and reader, it is easy to switch between character voices after scene or chapter breaks. Multiple story lines diverge and recombine to cataclysmic results.
Yes, ok, you can tell I love this type of story telling. That is why I use it!
Seriously, all of my fiction novels are written in third person multiple. I love developing characters and juggling several important plot lines at once while writing. It is challenging to keep everything moving when one character is in a desparate situation and a friend doesn’t realize it… yet. Those are the tense moments that made me curl the pages of books as I held onto it for dear life as a teenager. Oh the drama and excitement all building to the cataclysmic finale!
But not everyone is a fan. Multiple characters and multiple POVs can be overwhelming as you juggle different plots and views, especially after a reading break like, oh, work or sleep. These stories can test your memory and are often best when binge read and then re-read. So if you like getting a lot of mileage out of a story, look for this type of writing. lol!
A totally different experience happens when an author writes in first person POV. This is how the Twilight Series by Stephanie Meyers and Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins are both written as well as a lot of urban fantasy books too. The story is told through one character, usually, and uses the “I” pronoun. Stephanie did switch to Jake’s POV in the Twilight series which totally threw me off, and out of, the story until I realized what was going on. A switch like that is unusual in first person books because it can be so disconcerting.
But when done right, and well, a first person story line is so immersive. You feel like you reside in one character’s head, rooting for her success while yelling, ineffectually, for her not to make a dire mistake. You become the character or are so close that you might be her subconscious, one that she should really listen to. The story becomes powerful and immediate. That is why so many readers love it.
I can’t stand it.
Maybe I’m not that bad, lol. But I do avoid books written in first person, even though I occasionally write short stories in it. It is a fantastic method of developing a character voice because you write as that character. But I can’t stand reading all of the “I’s.” To me this writing style often makes characters sounds whiny and indecisive. Ugh.
And, I hate to admit it, I have a pretty strong personality. So putting on someone else’s skin is uncomfortable to me! If the character starts ticking me off and I just don’t like them (cough, Bella in Twilight, cough, cough), I have a really difficult time finishing the book. I usually skim sections (I’m embarrassed to admit that).
But lots of readers love it so I can’t complain or knock it. It just doesn’t work well for me. As long as readers are reading, I’m happy. But knowing what you prefer so you can pre-screen books helps. But really, it shouldn’t matter. If the writing is gripping and pulls you in from page one, it shouldn’t matter what POV the story is written in. It only matters if it helps you fall in love with the story and writing, and doesn’t detract from it!