Our schedule is a little different this week, as we’re joining in with Armchair BEA. For anyone wondering about upcoming books, you can always check what we’re reading in the sidebar see a list of titles in the Goodreads group. If this is your first time visiting The Socratic Salon—welcome! We’re a group blog focused on conversation and bookish interaction. If you want to know more about us and what we do, you can check out our welcome post.
Part of Armchair BEA is a focus on specific bookish topics and today it’s all about Character Chatter.
It’s time to give your favorite characters some love! Characters are essential to a story, and they can make or break a book for some readers. Now’s your chance to shine the spotlight on your favorite characters, or maybe your least favorite. Who’s your favorite couple? What are the components of a well written character? What are you favorite or least favorite cliches associated with characters?
I love this question about character cliches, or even archetypes. I know one of my favorites is the fierce older woman who can’t bother to give a shit about what anyone thinks. I’m thinking of Florence Gordon by Brian Morton and Jeanne Anne from The Son by Philipp Meyer.
Or Dolores Claiborne—or her boss. Darn, there’s a woman in Of Things Gone Astray who is like that and I loved her.
I want to be that woman. Ha!
I find older (or even elderly) people who are bold enough to be completely and utterly themselves are empowering, regardless of gender. That’s what I loved so much about Allan in The 100-Year-Old Man Who Climbed Out the Window and Disappeared.
My favorite cliche has to be the precocious child. Scout Finch (To Kill a Mockingbird) is the epitome of that. She is character perfection to me.
Ohh you just reminded me of a recent child character I loved: Peggy from Our Endless Numbered Days. She also isn’t the most reliable narrator (through no fault of her own) but I have to say, unreliable characters can make for a very interesting read.
We dug pretty deep into unlikable characters not too long ago, and settled on the fact that they’re actually quite likable, but only dipped our toes into what we think makes for a good or bad character. So, what elements do you need?
I need depth. One note bad or good does not work for me. Nuance, shades. Unless I’m reading a satire and then a good old-fashioned villain can be a lot of fun.
Agreed. I can love a good old fashioned villain, they tend to be more interesting than heroes, but other than that I need depth and personality. My all time favorite is Owen Meany. I can’t imagine what an author would have to do to push him out of the number one spot for me.
Owen Meany is one of the finest characters in all of literature. I’ve run into a villain or two that were evil for the sake of being evil. That is incredibly boring to me. Snore. I need depth and personality as well, even in those old-fashioned villians.
Echoing everything, particularly the personality. I love some good quirk, as long as it’s not done just for the sake of being quirky. I like my characters to be different and feel like real people, whether they’re people I’d like to be around or not.
Agreed. Liking or not liking a character has nothing to do with whether or not I like a book. Whether I believe a character, that’s what matters to me. They need to be REAL. Do you know anyone in real life who doesn’t irritate you at least once in a while? No one’s perfect. In books or in life. That’s the way it ought to be.
How about you, readers? What are your favorite (or dreaded) character cliches? Are there any you have mixed feelings about? Whether a character is a hero(ine) or villain, what elements need to be in place for you to love (or love to hate) them?