What I Want in a Character

Sometimes I read non-fiction but it never grabs me. It’s novels that grab and shake and catapult and expand me. I read novels to get immersed in the lives of people I can care about. I don’t have to like them. I hope they will be complicated, not trivial or easy to understand; nothing better than a character who baffles me – so long as I perceive that the author isn’t B.S.ing me, that the mysteries and the discrepancies are resolvable, and that once I spend more time with the character, I will start to understand.

Authors don’t fully understand the characters they “create”, even when they think they do.  There’s a part of me that has the chutzpah to think that I design my characters. There’s another, dazzled part of me that senses them flying in through a door I’ve managed to open, just a crack.

The best characters are like great song lyrics. A few twists of phrase and they change me, profoundly and forever.


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