Blog of a Writer on the Go and Barely Here.
Here by accident?
Looking for something more 'family-friendly'? Check out my Children's & Young Adult Blog:The Wide Writing World of Emily McKeon

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Make me Feel Something! Or - The Importance of Characterization

I just had the chance to finish reading The Hunger Games trilogy.  My husband loved the first two but, like so many others, wasn't thrilled with the third.  He insisted that I read them as well.

*Disclaimer - I am not a pop culture junkie.  I will, however, give things a chance.  Like Twilight.  I read the first book and realized I didn't want to waste anymore of my time reading the rest of the series.  Harry Potter, on the other hand, was the opposite, and I read the entire series.

With my disclaimer in mind, I finished Mockingjay, but didn't feel the same excitement everyone else seems to have for the books.  I was a little bit excited for the movie when my hubby told me Donald Sutherland was playing President Snow --- until I realized I was thinking of Donald Pleasance.  (Seriously, how perfect a casting choice would he have been?  Too bad this didn't come out 15 years ago.)

After much discussion with my husband, I realized why I wasn't as taken with the books.  Sure they had a lot of action, but the characterizations never felt real.  I never was concerned about Katniss, Peeta or Gale.  Here they are, supposedly starving and fighting for their lives, but there's never that urgency about their situations.

Katniss is quick to pull her bow on Peeta (twice, in fact) but just as quick to lower it when she deems he's not a threat.  There's no thought behind either action, she simply does it.  I don't know about you, but if my life were at stake, I wouldn't be making inconsistent decisions so quickly and accepting things at face value.

There were only two points in the entire series that caused me to cry/tear up.  The first was Rue's death.  This, to me, was one of the few moments when Katniss seemed human.  The other was when Buttercup mourned Prim's death.  That's right -- I didn't care that Prim had burned in a horrible death until the cat made me care.

There's more, but I'm interested in hear what everyone else has to say.  I know a lot of people will disagree, but I want to hear why you care about the characters.  If reading this series has taught me one thing about my own writing it's that people need to feel connected to the characters themselves, not only to the circumstance surrounding them.

1 comment:

  1. I think that has to be the case for the handful of books that I've always hoped would get better-and never did. Creating 'real' characters is SO important to a story. Without them, the story will fall flat no matter how exciting you try to make it.

    I've tried explaining to other people that, when I do my job right, the characters sometimes 'take over' the story I'm writing. It's almost as though they know when I'm trying to take them in wrong directions.

    But it takes time to create real, believable characters, and some writers take shortcuts.