[The Story] Characters I Like

The characters I like most represent one of two character archetypes: characters that either learn about some kind of personality trait about themselves, or, help serve as plot surrogates for some kind of greater theme. Not every character tends to be that lofty, but when I like the characters for more than just a witty line or aesthetic, it typically tends to be something deeper like that. How about John and Trishna in “The Story?”

Spoilers?: Minor (characters overcoming situations)

John and Trishna are just two good, hardworking kids.

What I like most about them is that when they’re teenagers, in the years when they chat online before they meet, they face constant and near-unbearable struggles, yet even through their distance, they still try to connect and help each other grow. Maybe one evening, John might have a difficult evening, so Trishna would be there to help him through it. Maybe the reverse. If not, then they’d just appreciate their friendship from a distance. Through those years apart as friends, where they learned to look out for each other, perhaps they learned the value of each other so that when they finally meet and can have a proper romantic relationship, they can trust each other more fully. They’ll still have arguments, but those arguments would be less about miscommunication and more about differing perspectives.

I’ve generated some random characters or media properties.

X-Men: I generally like all of the characters in this franchise. The overarching plot invites you to like all of the characters because the good guys are all misfits trying to do good, generally, and all the bad guys are misfits looking out for themselves. Their designs, powers, and personalities are diverse enough where you can like characters for one or many reason. If I were to name my favorite character, I’ll go with Rogue.

Refreshing this list a few times actually changed my thoughts slightly.

Of the characters in the franchises listed, I like them because of their narrative contexts. For X-Men, you can remove or adapt them into many sorts of stories and their personalities will generally carry them through. Rogue has a seductive angle but is insecure over her powers. Other characters, like Wolverine and Cyclops, fit into rough rapscallion or responsible leader archetypes. For these other characters: I like Amélie because she is an endearing, honest character in the situations she’s involved with throughout the movie, Hellboy gets himself into and out of many fun or wild adventures, but Joker represents many aspects of an empathetically rascally mindset, so these characters could stand alone.

I guess the question would be whether they could be action figures.

This does bias X-Men, but by action figures, I do mean more than that – a physical representation of a character implies both the financial and spatial respect to displaying that character properly. I own many characters in physical form that I’ve had in storage for over a year now, so that isn’t to imply that I disrespect them, just that now wanting to buy a new action figure would mean that character would have to represent something special.

My latest physical object character acquisition was Sun Wukong.

Honestly, I’m not a fan of Journey To The West because it’s too plot-focused and while I can appreciate The Great Sage, Heaven’s Equal’s self-confidence, he’s an overpowered character that’s not really interesting to follow. His only flaw is that he’s too angry. Otherwise, it’s just a story exploring the countrysides of China and India, but from a heavily fantastical perspective that just isn’t interesting to follow for someone whose interests in characters are more about what they’ve learned [if this were Sun Wokong’s story of redemption] or how they can show others what they learn [if Sun Wokong were an example of what to do or what not to do].

I have become less interested in characters over the past few years.

For me, as a writer, I prefer to see multi-faceted characters where they can express good and bad traits while still generally being agreeable. My first novel has some characters with easily identifiable antagonistic traits. With more planning, I would have tried to feature more of their positive traits, but for some of the early protagonistic characters, I tried to show some of their negative traits to help balance things out. Characters lie or act in ways that harm others.

I find these characters to be more likable.

I like enjoying aspects of a character then finding out something repulsive about them and seeing how they react. If a character has done harm to someone then does what they can in repentance toward forgiveness, then isn’t that a more interesting character than just one that goes about their life without any bumps in the road? I’m not the biggest fan of characters that are terrible just because, but if they hurt others, I like seeing them act toward repairing that situation.

[I guess I talk from experience on that one.]

I enjoy characters that have all sorts of perspectives, but I suppose if I had a particular type of character I liked most in the media I consume, they would be characters that act toward the greater good or their best situation. To go with three easy aforementioned examples, Wolverine might fight with the X-Men or the Alpha Flight or by himself depending on which serves his best interest. Amélie and Joker, similarly, act in their best interests, whereas Hellboy just does his job.

Where is that line, and what makes a character special?

I’ll conclude by answering why I’ve dedicated 60,000 words and counting to exploring the story of Trishna’s sister, Sammohini. I like her character because she’s honest, hardworking, and willing to throw herself into new situations. That sort of steadfast dedication to working toward her career is empathetic. Seeing characters like that work toward their goals, fail, maybe succeed, and otherwise try?

Those traits make her the most interesting, readily-available character I can write about currently.

Endtable:
Quotes: None.
Sources: The Story’s Imaginarium. My first novel.
Inspirations: This essay is part two of “Characters I Dislike,” only, I hadn’t read it since I wrote it, so it’s more about just a jam on what I thought about when I thought of characters
Related: Essays building “The Story.”
Photo: I love this old template photo.
Written On: December 27, 2019 [44 minutes, from 7am to 7:44am, listening to JESUS IS KING then Lateralus, written in WordPress.]
Last Edited: December 27, 2019 [First draft; final draft for the Internet.]

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Draft number one:

I can’t point to specific character traits I enjoy when reading or watching characters interact within their worlds. It’s not like a charismatic character with some identifiable ideology and outstanding outfit will immediately impress me. Superficially, I’ll pick characters in boilerplate RPGs with cool designs over not, but otherwise, it’s ambiguous. As it should be, really. Characters, like people, are so multifaceted that like Trishna and John in “The Story,” it can be one thing.

I like their earnest friendship most.

Through having them float around through my imagination for nearly twenty years, I’ve got to know John and Trishna very well. They are prideful, insecure, and overly ambitious. But I’ve seen them act in countless situations with respect and love for the other. In a frequently repeated scene, Trishna goes to John’s bed and cuddles with him, having just been retrieved from the rain in “The Scene” for the primary reason that he’s cold and she wants to warm him up. There is additional sexual tension subtext here, but primarily, it’s to help him through a rough patch.

I see this in countless other examples.

John acts in ways where he considers Trishna before himself. He would rather Trishna have the last bite of something than himself because he enjoys seeing her happy most. Likewise for Trishna but to less of a self-aware sort of way. These are great character expressions, but how do they compare to characters I respect and admire? When I go about my day, the actions of characters that resonate with me in random situations are the ones I treasure most.

Repo Man is full of these characters.

I couldn’t tell you their names or how they dress without reference, or even hardly any of their quotes verbatim, but the characters in this movie have a weight and resonance to them because they go through realistic situations in unique ways. It’s not even like we’re watching a movie as much as just hanging out with friends. This might be why deep characterization is difficult for me.

Opposing character traits are easy.

Tall versus short, loud versus quiet, A versus B. These are useful introductory character traits, and I enjoy the subversive narrative slight of hand when the tall meets the taller, the quiet gets loud, and more. It’s just I think these are only smaller pieces of a story. Yes, we consume stories that have empathetic characters, but I think it’s seeing how characters react to situations that really help us cheer or jeer for characters.

I do like characters that guide situations.

Not so much of the character that gives the inspirational speech just before winning the pivotal moment of the climax, more the character with an ideology that gives her or him the persistence to press on through those obstacles. Trishna goes over to warm up John against her parents’s wishes. She does so because she feels it will be better for John.

Her persistence of her belief is what compels me most.

Endtable:
Quotes: None.
Sources: The Story’s Imaginarium.
Inspirations: I wrote this in a different time and place. I’m adding it here so it doesn’t get lost.
Related: Essays building “The Story.”
Photo: I love this old template photo.
Written On: 2018 November 15 [Unknown, but published to my Trello, where it nearly got lost to time.]
Last Edited: 2020 January 1 [Rather than put it into a text document, I figured I’d just leave this down here.]
My big goal is writing. My most important goal is writing "The Story." All other goals should work toward that central goal. My proudest moment is the most recent time I overcame some fear, which should have been today. I'm a better zombie than I was yesterday. I'm not better than you and you're not better than me. Let's strive to be better every day.