Whatever your opinion on "good guys" is, we all have come to the conclusion that philosophers have inserted the word "good" into the title for a reason, right? Sure, our good characters struggle with fleshly desires and perhaps even are bad at a turn in our stories, but overall they exhibit good morals, good grooming, and good manners.
This first part of "Good Guys" focuses on character. What type of character does it take to make your good guy likable or even lovable by the general audience?
There are several examples I must first go through:
- Frodo Baggins.
Frodo is my absolute most favourite character in all of fantasy (not to mention I really liked the actor in the movie XD, but even before that he was my favourite). What was it about Frodo that drew my attention? It was undoubtedly his character. If you've read all of the LOTR series, you'll remember that Frodo was a very kind-hearted, forgiving, compassionate individual who sometimes fell into a trap because of his character. The Ring changed that character...which caused agony for both the individuals in the story and us readers, out of the story.
- Lucy Pevensie
Lucy, from CON (Chronicles of Narnia), was a different type of "good guy" (actually, she was a good girl). She dealt with doubt and envy once in a while, but overall she was a perfect princess who didn't seem too uppity for readers to become annoyed with. Her purity seeped through the pages...from mind to hand to ink to eye. How can we capture her "goodness"? Let me ask you a question first. How can you create a character like Lucy without having experienced her character yourself? How is it that some authors (good Christians ones at that) are able to come up with such heavenly characters? It starts with their own character first.
Let's assume that you've been a perfect individual all your life. Would you be able to write about evil men? Would you be able to comprehend how it feels when anger bubbles up from the middle of your chest and pours out through your eyes and hands...and you feel like you want to squish someone? Uh uh. No way. In fact, when C.S. Lewis wrote the Screwtape Letters, he had such a hard time trying to capture the character of a demon (and his writings aren't even as monstrous as some of the ones currently published!) that he wanted to quite writing because of the stress it was placing on his spirit.
Now think about good guys/gals. How is it that some people are able to make these characters come alive with a meaning that bangs on the bell inside of us that makes our spirits resound? Although this is just a theory, I believe it has to do with their character. So, if you want your good characters to exit the paper and charm the nations, you have to write from your heart and pour your own character into your book. It cannot be meaningless nonsense that you yourself cannot connect with, rather it must be something that you can understand and therefore write from the bottom of your soul. That is how you capture people with your characters...let your character mirror yourself.