Friday, September 18, 2015

Ask the Readers: Character Types

My brain is not braining just now, and today will be an incredibly busy day, fraught with disruptions and likely somewhat frustrating, and anyway I need more sleep before I can be creative again. So, instead of trying to be clever myself (when I'm clearly not feeling it), I'm going ask you -- you lovely bunch of fun, interesting, and clever people -- something instead. The question, basically, is this:

What are your favorite kinds of characters, and why do you enjoy them? Are the characters you enjoy in books and movies different from the kinds of characters you like to play in games (tabletop or video games, either or both)? When you're picking out a bit of entertainment, are you most often hooked by characters, or by settings, or by plots? What kinds of genres do you most enjoy, and do your character preferences change if you're looking at a different genre?

It's not a questionnaire, obviously; it's just a topic about which I'd like to hear people's thoughts. Feel free to digress if you have something else you'd prefer to talk about; this can double as an open thread.


  1. One of my early favorites characters has always been "Dirk Pitt" for the Clive Cussler novels. Two (that I know of) of which were made into movies - "Raise the Titaninc" and "Sahara" - both MUCH better books than movies although Matthew McConaughey did make for a decent adaptation in Sahara and the movei was more true to the book ... "Raise the Titaninc" failed on so many levels but leaving out huge chunks of integral information.

    Anyway, Enough on the movie/book review ... the character "Dirk Pitt" was a fave because despite being relatively human (no "superpowers"), he was like a James Bond/MacGuyver/Sherlock Holmes/Indiana Jones mash up - describes as handsome, intelligent, adventurous, rugged, sexy, inquisitive honorable and good.

    My 2 cents... since you asked :)

  2. I'm attracted to smart characters.

    I read a lot of horror and science fiction. In order to get certain plots to work, authors often write characters who are far too naive and dimwitted because they need someone to go explore that dark basement and figure out what that weird noise was.

    So I love it when I meet characters who actually have logical reactions to the stuff that happens to them.

    “My Real Children” by Jo Walton is a good example of this.

    So is the main character in Rio Yours' "Westlake Soul."

    “The Blue Castle” by L.M. Montgomery isn't scifi or horror, but I loved the main character's reaction to the news that she was going to die soon.

    I can't say much more about any of them without giving away spoilers, but I really like how they were written. I have the same standards for characters in any genre, I think.

  3. You know, I wasn't really looking for reading suggestions, but... I may have to check those out anyway.

    For books, I tend to like loners and outsiders, and I'd second Lydia's vote for intelligent and Robert's vote for honorable. I'm generally more comfortable with unwilling heroes than I am with people who actively want to save the day.

    For gaming and writing my own stuff, I tend to like characters who straddle the line between warrior and sorcerer (e.g. Squall from Final Fantasy VIII, though Jedi would fit the category too), or shapeshifters of various sorts. I'm particularly fond of the trope where the character's special abilities are derived from the very threat that they're fighting (e.g. the Alien: Resurrection version of Ripley, Blade, or Alex Mercer from the game Prototype -- that one hits a sweet spot, since he's also a shapeshifter).

  4. I too like outsider characters, since they study and critique society from the outside and offer fresh perspectives. Nonconformists make good protagonists!

    I think this explains why I was always drawn to the outsider characters in the Star Trek franchise. The struggles of Spock, Data, Odo, and Seven-of-Nine to understand humanity help viewers understand humanity as well.

    As for role-playing games, I enjoy characters that live close to nature. I always played druids during Dungeons & Dragons games for this reason. Werewolf: The Apocalypse was endearing because of the Garou Nation's devotion to Gaia.

  5. For D'n'D, I tended to go with Rangers; they had that connection to nature, but they could also hit things. For some reason, hitting things always figured prominently in my D'n'D games. And there's that "straddle the line between warrior and sorcerer" thing again; apparently I consider versatility a virtue.

    Though I think my two favorites, at least the characters that have stuck with me the longest, were a half-orc barbarian (big-time outcast) and a half-elf illusionist/thief (who was also an outsider, come to think of it).


Feel free to leave comments; it lets me know that people are actually reading my blog. Interesting tangents and topic drift just add flavor. Linking to your own stuff is fine, as long as it's at least loosely relevant. Be civil, and have fun!