Tuesday, December 19, 2017

[Link] Famous characters teach us about characterization

From Anna Karenina to Jon Snow, Don Quixote to Harry Potter, famous characters from fiction worm their way under our skin. Here are lessons from several memorable characters in classic and modern novels:

1. Give characters internal and external conflicts

Most famous characters from books have this in common: They grapple with internal and external conflict.

Internal struggle might stem from difficult decisions or else the lingering psychological effects of past experiences. Characters also face external conflicts, from defeating villains to overcoming harsh, unforgiving environments.

Take, for example, the fictional character Jon Snow from George R. R. Martin’s A Song of Ice and Fire fantasy series (the source material for HBO’s A Game of Thrones).

Snow, the illegitimate son of Ned Stark, has limited prospects given the negative social status of being born out of wedlock. This is a typical issue for characters in fiction set in medieval and other earlier times involving nobility. (Illegitimacy is an important plot thread in Shakespeare’s King Lear, for example.)

Snow’s backstory shapes the character’s internal conflict. He is constantly reminded of his ‘illegitimate’ status, making him an outsider.

Besides the internal conflict this yields, it also launches external conflict. Jon’s father’s wife, Catelyn, for example, resents him because he is a living reminder of Ned’s infidelity. Together, internal and external conflict make Jon a sympathetic character, since he faces adversity through no fault of his own.

Internal and external conflicts advance plot. Jon joins the Night’s Watch that guards the borders to the north of Winterfell fortress. His decision is driven, in part, by the desire to escape the limitations imposed by his birth status. Jon Snow’s arc shows how internal and external conflict can shape a character’s psychology and choices.

Read the full article: https://www.nownovel.com/blog/famous-characters-teach-characterization/

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