15 February 2009

101 Ways to Love Your Characters: Neil MeqVren

I think my favorite thing about reading is being in a character's head. Nothing is quite like it. Movies, for instance, are great and I love them, but they can't ever come close to the experience of almost being someone else that you can have when you're reading a story in a well-written, really tight POV.

My favorite example to give of this is Greg Keyes' Kingdoms of Thorn and Bone series. It's a great, great series and an amazingly told story. Four books follow a handful of characters caught up in a battle between good and evil. In a nutshell: there are kings, queens, princesses, knights, demons, aliens, assassins, religious cults, magical creatures, and dangerous secrets as old as the world. (Yeah - it's awesome.)

What I really love about it, though, is how the POV switches between the 4 or 5 main characters - a young, very headstrong princess; her mother, the queen; a knight in the queen's service; the "holter" in charge of the king's forest; a novice priest - and several of the minor characters to tell the complete story. Every time the POV changes, the whole feel of the story changes - a whole new world within the world of the story opens up. It's a whole new experience. Sometimes it's amusing, because each character's perception of the other characters is, of course, vastly different from character's views of themselves. Sometimes it's terrifying, because you find yourself in the head of a character who is being murdered. Sometimes you're in the head of the villian. Each time, though, you are totally immersed in that character's experience - to the point where you find yourself missing that character as his or her chapter ends and another character's POV takes over.

Neil MeqVren. Neil is my favorite character in this series and one of my top five favorite characters ever. He has one of the best journeys of any character I've ever read in a book. He is endearing in his innocence in the beginning, then tragic as his all convictions about honor and loyalty are slowly and brutally shattered, then he's charming as he begins to accept that if something might go wrong, you can count on the fact that it most definitely will, and then you cheer when he finally takes matters into his own hands.

The fact that you are so tightly in his head the whole time makes the experience that much better. You are privy to the thoughts he will not allow himself to speak aloud and the feelings he can barely stand to acknowledge at all. I suppose it's the juxtaposition itself -- knowing what he's thinking and observing that he won't say it -- that makes him such a powerfully memorable character. It's what makes him spring off the page, because haven't we all had thoughts we dare not voice and feelings we dare not admit? It says volumes about him without saying anything at all. Brilliant!


1 comment:

Cindy said...

I'm really enjoying reading about your thoughts on character creation...my process is much the same.

Mostly I came to visit to thank you for your kind words at another blog...

Thank you!

Cindy Lynn Speer