Recently, a good friend of mine (shout out to Jen M.!) and I were out celebrating a big birthday– we’ll just say somewhere between 29 and 41. It was my turn to treat her so it was her movie pick. We went and saw Hunger Games.
I’m a movie fan, though maybe not the normal chick flick type female you might expect me to be. After all, I am a suspense author so I do enjoy getting the pants scared off me from time to time. When I was in high school, my bedroom was in the basement, one of two finished rooms in a mostly cement space. I’d seen Nightmare on Elm Street and let’s say I was having difficulty sleeping after that.
I think my mother may have slipped some whiskey into my tea after several nights of insomnia imagining Freddy Kruger’s blades sharpening on the pipes in our basement. If anyone wonders about the scene in Proof with Nathan, Brett and the old lady with the tea– that gives you a hint of its origin, minus the underwear issue.
Needless to say, watching movies is different now that I’ve been studying the craft of writing for a number of years. Upon leaving the movie, I asked my friend how she liked it. First confession, neither one of us had read the novel, so this comes from just seeing the movie.
She said, “I really liked it– makes me want to read the books more.” I agreed, but I said, “From a writer’s standpoint, it had some really good teaching points.”
Literally, she rolled her eyes at me (no liquor on board yet) and says, “You are such an author!”
I took that as a great compliment.
But, since I’m an author, what I identified most with was the female protagonist, Katniss. I think this recent post by Mega author Dan Walsh over at Novel Rocket speaks to this.
People remember characters.
I recently judged a contest in which the first few pages included a male and female nurse doing demeaning things to a patient. Really, horrible things. Things even bad nurses I’ve known in my life would never do. In fact, when my first novel was going through some freelance edits, the editor I was working with said, “I need to sympathize with Lilly more.”
That’s what Hunger Games did a fantastic job of. Creating a sympathetic heroine. In Katniss’s choice to offer herself up as a replacement for her sister, she automatically gains the sympathy of the audience. Her sacrificial act immediately bonds us to her.
Hmm– reminds me of someone else.
So, authors, are you bonding your readers by creating a flawed, sympathetic hero? And readers, what are some of the more memorable characters you’ve read lately and why do you remember them?