Monday, September 14, 2009

Highest Two Qualities for Breakout Characters

According to Donald Maass, that is.

Drum roll please. . . can you guess them?


Maybe not?

For some reason I'm feeling very devilish this evening as I set up my posts for this week. I wonder why? Oh, perhaps it has something to do with what this week is.

It's ACFW Conference week! I'm going to learn, learn, and learn some more and I'm so excited and anxious all rolled up into one, and having a very difficult time concentrating on any task at hand. Can you tell?

Okay, seriously, I must admit that I can see why Maass picks these as his top two character qualities. They are both qualities I believe we all struggle with, and wish we had a better handle on. They are:


Who doesn't empathise with a character who has the strength and graciousness to forgive those who trespass against him? Forgiveness isn't easy, especially if the wrong has cost you so very much, but it certainly reveals a strength in character that many of us strive to achieve.

Self-sacrifice? Well, need I say anymore on this one? It's heroism at it's very best, indeed. And I think it's this characteristic in Edward from Meyers' Twilight series that builds him up to be bigger than life. Edward refuses to fold and weaken to the inner force within him that craves Bella--not only her tantalizing smelling blood, but his desire to love her too! He fears hurting Bella, and since he's a vampire, rightfully so, and so he does all he can to drive her away from being interested in him. Of course eventually Edward weakens and accepts Bella's love, but even after that, we are constantly reminded of the struggle he has within to protect Bella from the part savage that he is. And so throughout the series, until Bella becomes a vampire herself, we are continually seeing Edward sacrificing his inner desires to keep Bella alive and human, and that to me speaks volumes about his love for her. How could I not route for Team Edward? It's a no brainer to me!

So now that you know the top two characteristics that repeatedly appear in the main characters of breakout novels, how are your characters fairing? Are they the forgiving type? Have they even got something to forgive? Are they giving up something sacrificially for the good of another, be it a character or cause? If not, could they?

Surrendering to Him,



Tabitha Bird said...

Wow, that is so interesting. Well, the character, me, in my memoir has plenty to forgive... glad the hear that trait is in demand :)

Wendy @ All in a Day's Thought said...

I enjoyed reading this b/c I would not have guessed both. Maybe one, but not both.
~ Wendy

Kristen Torres-Toro said...

Hmm... This is definitely something for me to think about as I plot/brainstorm. Thanks, Eileen!

Terri Tiffany said...

Oh dear--now I want to write a whole new book with those huge characteristics!!HAVE a wonderful time at the conference! I am so jealous but rooting for all of you!

Rebecca Nazar said...

Currently I'm working on something with zombies; maybe adding these two qualities will add an interesting twist. ;-)

Lazy Writer said...

Thanks for sharing this information. I would have had no idea.

Jessica said...

Yikes! I def. got the forgiveness theme running through mine, but not sure about self-sacrifice...
Interesting to know though. Thank you for sharing that!

Cindy said...

That's interesting! I can definitely see forgiveness. Self-sacrifice is a surprise to me, though it makes sense. I love books that have characters with these characteristics. I think trust is a big theme in a lot of mine. But the manuscript I'm going to start submitting soon is definitely about forgiveness. It's the thing that ties up the end of the book and makes everything fall into place.

Jeanette Levellie said...

I am fascintated by this, since my DH and I just watched "Fireproof" last night for the first time. The author of the screenplay uses these two characteristics in the hero in several poignant way.
And I love the twist at the end!
Have a great time at the conference!

T. Anne said...

Wow for a secular book, he sure chooses some good Godly principles to model our characters by! I have to say, my MC fits neatly in both boxes. It doesn't hurt that she's a Christian either ;)

Jody Hedlund said...

I think DD has stopped throwing up finally. It's been a couple of hours now. Whew! She doesn't seem to have a fever, so I'm praying that this is just a reaction to something she ate. Please Lord!!

Eileen, I can just feel your excitement!! I'm right there with you! And boy, you'll show up with thighs of steel from all that treadmilling! And a twenty-one year old body! :)

Thanks for sharing those two characteristics. I think I'm getting them into my next novel, at least in my early stages of plotting!

So, will you bring some of your book so that I can read it?

Jill Kemerer said...

Perfect timing, as usual Eileen! Thanks for the top two!

Susan J. Reinhardt said...

I must get this book!

Have fun at ACFW.

Susan :)

Katie Ganshert said...

I completely agree about the self-sacrifice and forgiveness. Now I've got to find a way for my hero and heroine to show these qualities! Can't wait to meet you this weekend, Eileen!

Keli Gwyn said...

My characters often have to deal with forgiveness. It's a lesson I think we all have to learn repeatedly.

I hope you have a wonderful time at the conference.

Stephanie Faris said...

I think just, in general, being a good person. Sympathetic and kind to others. Those are the qualities I strive for in my main characters.

Warren Baldwin said...

Both of these qualities were clearly visible in Francine River's Redeeming Love.