Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Characters, bent is better.

Characters -- I prefer characters that are slightly skewed, odd ball people who don't quite fit in.

I'm a Buffy fan, not Buffy so much but as her supporting characters. I've just started watching TrueBlood, the Sookie Stackhouse series. I'm up to episode 6 and enjoying it. I couldn't help compare the characterisation. I'm thinking aloud here ...

Sookie is a sincere southern waitress, who just happens to be able to hear people's thoughts. She's a little but acerbic, which is nice.

Buffy's answer to everything is 'tell me how and I'll kill it'.

Even though we are only just into the first series, I prefer Sookie's characterisation.

Bill the vampire's back story is very straight. He was a poor but honest Confederate soldier, who was turned into a vampire and had to walk away from the family he loved.

Compare this to Spike the vampire's back story. He was a bumbling clerk who wrote bad poetry because his romantic soul outreached his ability.

The Spike character had the advantage of quite a few series to develop his character before his back story was invented and revealed, but I prefer the Spike backstory because he would risk all for love, while Bill would give up everything for love.

For me it is the odd ball person who sees the world in a slightly different way, who is the most interesting.

Are you into odd ball characters?

10 comments:

Chris McMahon said...

I have watched the first series of Trueblood and really enjoyed it. Its interesting what you are saying about liking oddball characters. I much the same, although I am a total sucker for the underdog who overcomes the obstacles and triumphs in the end.
I hope they make a second series of Trueblood. I like the way there are actually bad Vampire in that series -- and good ones too. Its still the moral spectrum of choice that us mere mortals have.
The *nice guy* Vampires are getting a little tired for me - the ones that check their hair and mirror and are a just misunderstood. I like the unabashed nastiness of the more feral vamps in Trueblood, but having Bill as the balance allows this to stand with it too becoming a cliche.

Rowena Cory Daniells said...

Yes, Chris, Bill is a little too white bread for my tastes.

But I am really enjoying Sookie's annoying brother. The episode where he overdosed on V was hilarious.

A little human frailty in a character goes a long way to making them appealing.

Dave Freer said...

Um. If the slanders of history are to be believed Adolf Hitler and Franco were both odd ball characters (and I'm not into either);-) My favorite oddball has to be Mouse Padway, from Sprague de Camp's Lest Darkness Fall - the weedy, academic American archeologist cast back in time trying to stop the dark ages.

John Lambshead said...

Um, I have read all the Sookie stories but keep it to yourself.
John

Rowena Cory Daniells said...

Dave -- I've been buying the SF Classics so I can catch up on ones I hadn't read. Haven't read Lest Darkness Fall but I do have Dunstany's collected works on my bedside table.

I'm very fond of Saki. He's not a Spec Fic writer as such, but a wonderfully acerbic story teller. My favourite story was Sredni Vashta.

Rowena Cory Daniells said...

John -- No one has to eat only steak or only salads. Sometimes a sweet or a savoury dish is a nice change.

I love reading the Janet Ivanovitch books. Tight funny writing.

matapam said...

Humm, risk all for love vs give up everything for love. An interesting question.

Is what he's risking, his to risk? Is removal of the threat by leaving the only option? I'm not a vampire fan, so I can't answer for Buffy vs. Trueblood on how in control of their impulses their vampires are.

But take a character like Barbara Hambly's John Averson. Is he an eccentric knight and dragonslayer or is he boring and reliable? What about Miles Vorkosigan, who gave up an interstellar mercenary fleet to remain true to his world even as it retired him in disgrace?

I think I like the bent characters only if they start bent and _improve_.

hope_fully said...

Matapam, I don't mean bent as in bad, just bent as in odd ball.

I can SO sympathise with Miles giving up his General Naismith life to come home even though he was (not understood) in disgrace.

I empathise with characters who do what they do because they think it is right, even if no one else understands.

matapam said...

Sorry, I tend to automatically consider Vampires bad. And pretty much incurable, so you might as well treat them like oversize mosquitoes and kill them on sight.

I don't mind Bad Guys, if they're trying to reform. It's the unrepentant that I don't cozy up to. Although they can be fun to write, knowing that you have the power to humiliate, torture, disembowel or otherwise punish them as they deserve.

Someone else's Characters that you are powerless to punish for their boring or whiny behavior are just about as annoying as the Bad Guys, whom you can at least hope die ignominiously at the end of the book.

matapam said...

Sorry, I tend to automatically consider Vampires bad. And pretty much incurable, so you might as well treat them like oversize mosquitoes and kill them on sight.

I don't mind Bad Guys, if they're trying to reform. It's the unrepentant that I don't cozy up to. Although they can be fun to write, knowing that you have the power to humiliate, torture, disembowel or otherwise punish them as they deserve.

Someone else's Characters that you are powerless to punish for their boring or whiny behavior are just about as annoying as the Bad Guys, whom you can at least hope die ignominiously at the end of the book.