Thursday, May 20, 2010

Characters in Pain

This is inspired by the most recent installment of David Farland's e-newsletter "A Daily Kick in the Pants."

So first, a minor recap:

Farland states that the best way to make readers sympathize with characters is to put them in pain and then force them to confront said pain.   He says that American readers don't like characters who suffer from self-inflicted pain.  Apparently, we like only characters that are hurt by others and find a way to deal.

I'm not going to argue with this.  Not really.   But I do think that characters suffering psychologically are more real than those who are merely react to those around them.  But the best way to convey psychological issues is to have characters undergo self-inflicted trials.  I love it when an author can take a character, shove said character through crap and have them suffer internally, only to reach the main goal despite their shortcomings. I don't want a character who can triumph and remain unscarred at the end.  I don't want to read a character who changes only for the better.

I love escapist literature. Still, I take the more realistic characters more seriously.  We can't overcome everything.  So give me a character, scarred and likely to never fully heal, but who will face all of his/her trials and come out on top. That will make me feel that I, lowly and struggling, can reach my goals as well.  These characters can provide therapy in escape.



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