Discussion Post: Main Characters32
May 29, 2013 by Alice in Readerland
This week’s discussion post question came as a suggestion from the Eden’s Root Trilogy author Rachel E. Fisher; she asked:
“Do you prefer a story with a main character who is:
A) A weak or normal character who becomes strong. (Such as Lena from Delirium and Cassia from Matched.)
B) A “secretly” strong character who realizes her strength. (Such as Tris from Divergent or Sam from Gone.)
C) A strong character who becomes even stronger. (Such as Katniss from The Hunger Games or Katsa from Graceling.)
…And why do you prefer that type of character?”
Great question, Rachel! Besides answering the question myself, the fabulous bloggers Kate from WhY.A.not Reviews, Lisa from Lisa Likes Books, and Sunny from Blue Sky Bookshelf, also gave their opinion in this post!
HERE’S WHAT I HAVE TO SAY:
I find this question very interesting because characters and character growth are so important to me in a story; even if a plotline isn’t all that fascinating I’ll still mark a book high if I loved the characters and their development. While I have loved characters in all 3 of the categories, I think my ideal main character is A) with a bit of B). I think there’s something so refreshing about a character who is just your normal, average person, yet grows stronger to conquer what stands in their way and does such extraordinary things. I think it’s great because we see a part of ourselves reflected in the character in the beginning, and then when the character grows, we get to see what we have the potential of being. That being said, I think all these characters have to be a bit of B) in being “secretly strong” because all of us have the potential inside of us and we build on what we already have.
Such a tough question! I would probably pick C, A strong character who becomes even stronger, à la Katniss. I have found that it is easier for me to root for a heroine even more when they already begin strong. I’ll use Katniss as an example again because really, she’s the strongest heroine I have ever read. She already has to be strong, fighting to keep her family alive in the bleakest times, and then BAM! she finds herself fighting for her life now and has to pull herself up by her boot straps again (a phrase that my mother loves to use). Even though I like A and B, but for me, authors have to be careful because their journeys can be a tad more irritating in their narratives. I feel like when I’m introduced to a main character in the category C, I instantly pump my fist and think: She is going to kick some butt. Or as Mushu from Mulan would say, “Let’s go kick some hunny buns!” I hope that wasn’t too rambly, but long story short is that I’m pro-C because those characters are more likely to get my attention and support.
I love characters in all these categories but I have a soft spot for characters who fall into the first option: A) A weak or normal character who becomes strong.
There’s something incredibly exciting about seeing a character who is naturally cautious, unsure and sometimes a little scared finding their own strength. I find it fantastically heroic watching a character overcome their own limitations and fears and defeat the evil in their lives. One example is in Harry Potter when Neville Longbottom faces down the enemy with his head held high and his wand at the ready, it’s one of my favourite moments in the series.
B) A “secretly” strong character who realizes her strength.
This is such a difficult question to answer, because obviously strong characters are likable however they get to be that way.
In general I love it when characters are “secretly” strong. I like to think everyone is strong, just in some cases it hasn’t been realized yet. Even Katniss Everdeen had a time in her life* where she had to pull something from within to become the strong person she was through the Hunger Games.
*When her father died and she had to become the head of the household. I like to think she was pretty much “normal” before that.
I guess putting it like that almost meshes all types of strength together. Quite right, too. There’s so much grey area when it comes to strength. I’ll take any type of strong character, because honestly, they’re all awesome.
I also strongly believe that a single character can be any type of strong depending on which part of their story you walk in at. Are their struggles just beginning or have they been at it for a while? It makes a difference.
Thanks so much Kate, Lisa, and Sunny! I loved reading your answers, you all made such great points! Be sure to check out their blogs!
Which type of main character do you prefer out of the choices, A), B), or C), and why? Make sure to let us know in the comments!
It was so interesting reading everyone’s answers! Reading the others’ answers made me go, “Okay, she has a great point, maybe I agree with her a little more now…” And love the cat gifs :) I had such fun participating, thanks, Alice!
Thanks for participating, I really enjoyed reading your answer! You had really great points, & I smiled at the Mulan quote! :)
Wow, what a great post! Everyone had good points. The “A” character alone annoys me, but like you said, A with a bit of B makes for good character growth. Still, I’m with Sunny and Lisa. I like my characters already strong (even if they don’t know it) and if they become yet stronger, all the better.
Thanks for sharing your opinion! :)
I love all three types of characters, but my favourite types of characters are probably the ‘B’ characters, because I love watching those characters come into their own. I do love ‘C’ characters, and I agree with Sunny when she says those characters are more likely to get her attention, they definitely do with me!
Thanks for commenting, I loved hearing what you had to say! :)
I’m with you on the A with a bit of B but really, I agree with Lisa, at the end of the day, all characters can be placed into them all at some point. But I like to see growth in stories no matter where from. It’s nice to see that every day we’re changing to become better than we ever where.
As for the Neville Longbottom example… I just <3 He is one of my FAVOURITE characters because he was just so well written, everyone forgets about him but I think he is one of the strongest characters in the book because he had so much more to fight within himself <3
I really enjoyed how Lisa brought out that point! I also loved how Kate chose a character who really overcame their inner struggles. :)
Wow, what an interesting question… I have to say I’ve enjoyed books with all 3 types of characters. I think I usually prefer A’s and B’s, because it’s easier for me to immediately relate to the characters who start out on the more subdued side of things. However, if a book can get me to connect with C’s, there is no stopping my love for those characters. They’re people you can really admire, but also relate to, at the same time. A winning combination.
Awesome discussion topic!
I loved reading your answer! I agree, I like how A’s & B’s start out on the subdued side, & then grow fiercer. An instantly relatable C character would be fantastic! :)
I would lean towards B or C, maybe B more so. I like characters who have a strong will, but they don’t necessarily have to be able to kick people’s butts or anything (though that is an added bonus!). The A type annoys me generally, or at least the two examples given do. I didn’t even finish Delirium because I could care less about Lena, and Cassia annoyed me in Crossed and Reached, I think largely because she was suddenly like, “Wow! I can be strong! Watch me be strong! Yay me!”. I get it, Cassia. Anyhow, I think I connect the most with B’s.
Thanks for sharing your thoughts, I’m loving the chance to read everyone’s opinions on this topic! :)
LOVE all these answers! It’s so intriguing to see the significance of the difference in people’s preferences. I’d never have expected such Divergent (ha ha) viewpoints, but at the same time, why not? I’ve had people fault my story for the MC not being tough enough as well as for being too soft. NOW, I know why, lol! Long live personal preference and stories that inspire!
TY Alice! You are the absolute best!
Thanks for the great question, I had fun with it and I’m loving seeing everyone’s answers! :)
I’m going to go with B. I love seeing characters find their inner strength and potential that’s been there all along. There’s something so great about watching them develop. While I love characters who are more A or C, they sometimes can be a little TOO A or C. Like to the point where they become unlikable. Great discussion!
I agree, when an author writes a character too A or C, they get on my nerves! When I see an “overly A” character (that ends up too whiny and weak) or an “overly C” character (that ends up being too perfect/not having to really try at succeeding) it feels too forced. Thanks for sharing your thoughts! :)
What an interesting question! I think I’d be happiest with a B or C character, because A type characters are often insecure or whiny to the point where it’s annoying. A type characters can also be done really well though and as long as there’s some character development, I’ll probably end up enjoying the book :)
Thanks for sharing your thoughts!!! :)
I loved reading everyone’s opinions. They brought up some points that I probably wouldn’t have thought about otherwise, but totally agree with. I was reading the comments and agree with some fo the people saying A characters can be a little whiney. If they’re well written they’re good to read about, but sometimes it’s like you want to reach into the book and shake them. Haha. The same with all of them really.
Man, I really like this discussion. Haha.
I’ve been having fun seeing all the different opinions too! With all the “whiny A character comments,” I’ve been realizing how many weak/whiny A characters I hate; but when they’re written well I love them a lot!
Good point, I’ve wanted to reach into the book and shake so many characters in all the categories…but I’ve also loved so many characters in all the categories. I guess it really boils down to the type of writer that’s writing them! :) Thanks for commenting!!!
What an interesting question! Everyone has such diverse opinions. I guess I would need to think about it a bit more, but I think I am a mix of A and B, because I like seeing the growth in characters. Great post! :)
Thanks for sharing your thoughts, I really like seeing growth in characters too! :)
This is such a hard question. I like the strong characters because they still have moments of fear, but ultimately get over it. And I admire that. But I also like B because they’re discovering who they really are and watching them grow. I can’t stand weak characters who rely on others to save them. Great topic!
Thanks for sharing your opinion! :) I admire watching the characters discover who they are and grow, too. Weak characters who only rely on others to save them instead of growing stronger themselves are so annoying!
This is such a hard yet super thought provoking question. I would have to say A. A weak or normal character who becomes strong. I pretty much agree with everything Kate said! I’m a huge fan of character development. Neville Longbottom is one of my favorite fictional characters ever because of his character development throughout 7 books. I really love the quote in The Sorcerer’s Stone when Dumbledore says about Neville, ““It takes a great deal of bravery to stand up to our enemies, but just as much to stand up to our friends.” I just remember reading this part and smiling, then I see how much Neville has grown in the last book. This is an awesome question!
Thanks for sharing your thoughts! I love character development as well! :)
Great discussion post! I’m a more plot-centric person, and I also care a lot about characters, but for me, it’s plot first and foremost. So I usually will like any character and their development if the plot was done well enough so I could fully invest myself in the story and the character. But I think I like someone like choice B, because it kind of means that they grow a little more from being a kind of normal person who doesn’t realize what they’re capable of to someone who can pretty much take on the world :)
Thanks for sharing your thoughts! I love watching someone who doesn’t realize all they’re capable of take on the world too! Those stories are so great! :)
I prefer Choice A. I think character development is awesome, and I really love watching a character change into a stronger person. I also don’t like characters to be too weak, though. It’s definitely a toss up between A and C. Love the post!
I love character development too, watching a character become stronger makes me love a story very much! I agree, I don’t like it when A characters are portrayed as too weak/whiny/cowardly either, but I love seeing your average person grow strong! :) Thanks so much for commenting!!!
This is a really interesting question, although I would argue that Katniss and Katsa are strong characters who don’t realize their true strengths. In most cases, I think I prefer B.) but with the right author any of these characters can be fantastic!
Thanks for sharing your thoughts! :) I agree, with the right author any of these characters can be fantastic!