Characters. Without them a story can’t be. Characters are the pawns we use within the environment we write to create each scene. Without them we can have no conflict, we can have no dialog and the story will be pretty dry and boring. There is a reason why we remember characters years after we read the book or watch the movie. They burrow into our minds, causing us to reflect back on their trials and tribulations. We want them to succeed, we want the good to win over the bad but inevitably we want each character’s arc to reach a conclusion. A conclusion that satisfies the reader or viewer.
I love grabbing a book, finding a main character, sometimes even a secondary character to get behind. I care what happens to them as I’m going to spend a good number of hours or days with them, following their journey. I even care what happens to the antagonist, the enemy, the bad guy. I want them to have a fulfilling conclusion also. It is as much part of the story as our main protagonist and their many supporting crew.
This leads me to the book I recently read and I’m sure many of you have also, ‘Gone Girl’. There wasn’t one character I liked in the whole book. I didn’t care what happened to them, they were all contrived and wholly unlikable and I just couldn’t get behind any of them. The only reason I finished the book was because I am heading to see the movie today and always like to read the book first if I can.
Before I go on, I know that likability of a character is subjective to the reader and each person will find different aspects to like or dislike. Now, making a character a sweetie pie, ‘everyone has gotta like me’ type of character isn’t an option either. Giving your character a little flaw is good. I makes them all the more real. We all have flaws in real life and what shouldn’t our characters but the problem is when you flaw them and give them nothing likable, that’s a problem. I feel Gillian Flynn did this in Gone Girl. The story is really good, there are nice twists as you’d expect and it’s a really smart read. Well written with just enough complexity for it not to be utterly convoluted. It’s just the characters. I couldn’t like any of them. None. I realized that without them I couldn’t enjoy the read. (We all remember the drab characters of the new Star Wars movies compared to the wonderful characters of the old one’s)
Not only are character an essential part to the story but their likability is too. For conflict to really take effect, really drive it to the next level of enjoyment, you’ve got to be emotionally involved in the story, care about the characters.
Anyway, that’s enough from me moaning that I didn’t like Nick or Amy Dunne… or anyone else in the book for that matter.
Let me know if you’ve have this happen to you? Did it ruin the story for you or could you grasp aspects of it that you enjoyed?