Today I Learn… I make a point of learning something new everyday. This is what I learn each day

1, Feb 26, 2012

Good Readers and Understanding Characters

Filed under: Writing — admin @ 12:07 am

Continue on being a good reader…
Reading is like writing, in that it involves a good understanding of many things, such as, setting, development of character, plot, ending. There are different genres of books, even among fictions.

For some people, they like a book because of its charater. The character is so well-written that he or she remains with us long after we close the book, like the hero in “To Kill a Mockingbird” or in “Anna Karenina.”  When I was small, I preferred this kind of books. For a long time, the characters in the book were like my invisible friends.

For some other people, they prefer mysteries and thrillers which are not good at character development when their main purpose is to solve a mystery and they move fast to the solution. These readers are more interested in the solving of the mystery, like reading Dan Brown’s The Da Vinci Code. If you want to study character development, stay away from books like this. I believe real good books always provide readers with unforgettable characters.

There are normally two kinds of characters: flat one and round one. The flat one is predictable, that is, there is no surprise. His actions are always consistent to his character. You know he is a good guy, so without exception he does good things at every turn of event. Of course, if he is a bad guy, he is bad all the way to the end, like characters in Tess of the d’Urbervilles.

A round character is just the opposite. That is, he is full of surprises and the unexpected. And these surprises do not appear too far-fetched. Sometimes, he is presented as a heartless villian in the beginning, then as the story goes, he is showed as the opposite to the initial villian, like Anton Chekhov’s The Lady With The Dog.

As far as I know, most characters are flat and predictable. A good exercise on analyzing character is to trace the development of the character and ask yourself why you like or dislike the main character.

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