Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Characters We Love

Happy Valentines!

Today on the Alley we couldn't help but talk about the characters we love and why we love them. These protagonists and heroes have inspired us to write the great characters in our books.

Curious who we're talking about?

Pull up a chair and join us. AND then in the comment section tell us your favorite character and why you chose that character.

Mary Vee says:
I chose Liam Neeson's character, Jean Valjean, from Les Meserables. After release from jail, Valjean reforms his life by learning how to read, becoming elected as a city official, owning a business. Despite Javert's intense desire to put the ex-convict back in jail, Valjean holds no ill feelings. He fights throughout the story to live the life God would have him do, forgiving others for what they do to him, and helping those in need. I prefer the ending of this version, the look on Valjean's face in the closing scene, when he knows he is free. A powerful character demonstrating forgiveness and choosing to do right even when it's difficult. 

Pepper Basham says: 
Okay, I'm going to be totally weird here and put Aragorn from The Lord of the Rings - because he's a compassionate, gentle, and courageous man who is insecure and has to find confidence to express the 'king' inside

Sherrinda Ketchersid says:

Okay . . . let's see. How about Sandra Bullock in Miss Congeniality! She loves her job, doesn't care about appearances, doesn't mind just being one of the guys and yet, she comes to truly care for those around her while undercover. While she might disdain their vanity at first, she comes to respect and love them in the end. And she is an ugly duckling who turns into a beautiful swan who gets the guy in teh end. (Always a great thing!)

Krista Phillips says:

Oh this one is EASY!!!!!

Kathleen Kelly played by Meg Ryan in You've Got Mail.  Oh my goodness, what is not to like! She has spunk and a bit of whit and loves books and is just a wee bit sneaky. I rooted for her even though she was "technically" online cheating on her current boyfriend, which is not something I'd normally root for.

Casey Herringshaw says,

Kate, from My Stubborn Heart by Becky Wade!! She's spunky, sweet and a wee bit sassy. She's got that great mix of won't back down, but sweet heart/innocence. Ahh, love her!

Julia Reffner says, 

OK, I have lots of favorites but here's one: Peter Joshua (AKA Cary Grant) in Charade. The viewer LOVES him, wants to see him with Regina Lampert (AKA Audrey Hepburn), but we remain unsure of his motives until the bitter end. Great mystery, great chemistry between him and Audrey, and lots of funny lines.

Angie Dicken says:
I love Helena Bonham Carter as Lady Jane Grey. It's an old movie (Lady Jane). She is a true heroine in the movie because she finds a pure love with Guilford, and together they fight for their faith (eventually dying because of it). It's a beautiful picture of sacrifice and eternal focus. She quotes Plato in the movie, and it keeps her strong until the end:

"The soul takes flight into the world that is eternal, and there arriving she is sure of bliss and forever dwells in Paradise."

Chills! And I haven't seen that movie in years! Love!!!

Ashley Clark says, 
I KNEW Krista was going to take Kathleen Kelly! Girl, we are so on the same wavelength.:) 
Mary interrupting here, I wanted Kathleen Kelly too. Krista was quick on the draw

I'm going to go with Susan, Katharine Hepburn's character in Bringing up Baby. I like her because she's clever, witty, and hilarious. She follows her heart, and she's sassy. Also, another thing I think makes her a great character is that she defies our expectations. We know she's quirky, and yet she still continues to surprise us when she takes David's golf ball in the middle of his business game, steals a car from downtown, and cares for a leopard without the least bit of fear. She keeps us guessing--and more importantly, laughing--and never fails to sparkle.

Karen Schravemade says,

I'd have to go with Hadassah, from A Voice in the Wind by Francine Rivers. I love how her insecurities and fears make her so relatable - how she struggles with real life temptations - but her faith in God gives her a rock-solid strength she doesn't even realize she possess. All throughout the book, she sees herself as this timid mouse of a thing, and worries if she would have the courage to profess her faith in God if the outcome is death. In the end, God gives her the strength to stand strong, even when she's thrown to the lions. The character of Hadassah has stayed with me for years. 

Amy Leigh Simpson says,
Okay, so not fair! Karen took mine!! soul sister.
I'm gonna go with Meg Ryan's character, Kate, from French Kiss. She has a great balance of spunk and vulnerability. She fights for her heart, hangs on to her bravado even when torn and defeated. And even though she is stubborn, she knows when to surrender and dare to dream of something more.
Great flick!

So What stands out in the characters we love?

*compassionate, gentle, 
*and courageous man who is insecure and has to find confidence to express the 'king' inside
*an ugly duckling who turns into a beautiful swan who gets the guy
*spunk and a bit of wit and loves books 
*just a wee bit sneaky
*great mix of won't back down, but sweet heart/innocence
*spunky, sweet, and a wee bit sassy
*great mystery, great chemistry, funny lines
*a beautiful picture of sacrifice and eternal focus
*she fights for her faith even to the point of death
*clever, witty, hilarious, sassy
*defies our expectations
*her faith in God gives a rock solid strength
*insecurities that make her relatable
*balance of spunk and vulnerability
*fights for her heart
*hangs on to her bravado even when torn and defeated
*knows when to surrender
*dares to dream of something more

Notice the themes in the answers? 

*courageous, won't back down, sacrifice, fights, hangs on to her bravado, knows when to surrender, dares to dream  Readers want to identify with characters who are willing to fight, take on challenges that are bigger than life, and yes, sometimes the fight means sometimes possessing the strength to surrender.

*insecure, vulnerability  Readers want characters to show a human side. What is their weakness, how do they need help. One of the songs from Princess Diaries has this line: "I'm super girl and I've come to save the world, but I want to know, who's gonna save me?" This moment of vulnerability draws the readers compassions into the story.

*beautiful swan, sweat heart, great chemistry Readers, of course are drawn to stories with the sweet character, the couple with a great chemistry. Sometimes these characters melt our ugly, real circumstance into a cozy story and help us view our own circumstance differently. 

*spunk, sneaky  Readers root for the spunky/sneaky character. The one who shows spirit and is willing to fight back not just with strength, but with attitude.

*hilarious, funny lines What reader doesn't like a spice of humor?

*clever, witty Readers want the character to be be more than average. Think things through, quick on their feet, even if mistakes are made he/she gets back on their feet.

*faith, eternal focus Why do stories like Hadassah-A Voice in the Wind, Redeeming Love, Ben Hur, and other stories of faith hold such power? Even if the character dies in the end? Because the tremendous power of faith, the choice to hold fast to a conviction against any end. Readers become empowered with these works.

All right. You've heard our answers. Now, tell us yours. 
What character do you love? 
Name the book or movie the character is from and tell why you love the character.


photos courtesy of

This blog post is by Mary Vee

Mary has moved to Michigan with her husband, closer to her three college kids. She misses the mountains of Montana, but loves seeing family more often. She writes contemporary Christian fiction with a focus on the homeless population and loves to pen missionary and Bible adventure stories on her ministry blog, God Loves Kids.

Visit Mary at her website and her ministry blog to families: God Loves Kids. Or chat on Facebook or Twitter


Sherrinda Ketchersid said...

Oh this was so much fun! And may I just say that I want Kathleen Kelly's HAIR! She has the best short hair ever. Of course, it doesn't hurt that she is just adorable anyway.

And I should have remembered Hadassah!!! Oh my goodness, what an awesome character. Francine Rivers wrote the best book ever with that character. it.

Pepper said...

YAY, Mare!
AWESOME post. Meg Ryan is just adorable in almost every movie she's in.
Wonderful 'tips' on why we LOVE characters. Humor is a big one for me! So is vulnerability.
But I'm a big fan of chemistry too :-)

Karen @ a house full of sunshine said...

Mary, you are so clever!! I love how you pulled patterns out of what we said! So fascinating to look at it that way. You're right, too, even though our characters seem quite different in many ways, we're all drawn to some really similar key things.

Beth K. Vogt said...

This was such a fun, fun post. The Alley Cats know how to have fun, that's for sure and certain.
And yes, Meg Ryan knows how to rock short hair in You've Got Mail.
You all picked some great favorite characters (must watch Lady Jane now -- it's my favorite tea, don'tcha know)
but I digress ...
Another favorite character is Jimmy Stuart in It's a Wonderful Life. He nails so many emotions: dreamer and disappointed young man, falling in love (in spite of himself), hardworking husband and father, hopelessness ... He's every man ... and then we can see the value of life -- the value of each individual person -- as we watch him see the lives of those he loves go on without him.

Amy Leigh Simpson said...

Love this post! So fun!

And I have to agree with Beth... Jimmy Stewart is the quintessential male character!

Mary Vee Writer said...

Oh, Yes, Jimmy Stewart in Its a Wonderful Life is a great one to add to the list.

And Beth, I love Lady Gray tea, too. In fact, I think I'll have a cup right now. :)

Edie Melson said...

Love this post! My favorite character is Joan Wilder, played by Kathleen Turner in Romancing the Stone. I soooo wanted to be her!

Edie Melson said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Unknown said...

Bring Up Baby!! That's one of my favorite movies ever...and Charade...two Cary Grant movies, this is good. Oh, and Aragorn...swoon!

Let's see, one of my favorite characters is Barbra Streisand's character from What's Up Doc...hilarious! I love her randomness. :)

Mary Vee Writer said...

Yes, Edie! So agree
ooooo Joan Wilder? The Joan Wilder? You can ride my little mule. I love this movie. Joan changes from timid, sheltered writer, to adventure woman. And she gets her Jesse.

Mary Vee Writer said...

I haven't seen that movie. And I love hilarious movies. This one is definitely on my list.

Jeanne T said...

Ohhh, this is so hard! I can only pick one? Really? Sigh, okay. Since you all have made me wish I could throw out the to-do list and watch these great movies all day, I'll go with a movie. I love Lucy in While You Were Sleeping. Just to see her sweetness, her vulnerability and desire to belong to a family, to see how she tries to get the truth out there but just can't, and to see how she does what has to be done, I just love her. :) I watch this movie regularly and cry accordingly. Of course, Jack is pretty darn good too. :)

Great post today, Mary!

Debra E. Marvin said...

oh. wow. what a question. I have to say now I just want to go home and watch movies. THanks a LOT!!!

Okay. I just sat here for five minutes unable to come up with an answer. Maybe Scarlett O'Hara?

Such a intricate character--fascinating, compelling... it's hard to like her yet watching her grow through those years is an incredible experience. I read the book three times in a row when I was a teenager.

Mary Connealy said...

My favorite heroine ever is Sandra Bullock in While You Were Sleeping. So perfect.

A strong second is Katherine Hepburn in The Philadelphia Story.

And from my own books for some reason I have never loved a character more than Belle Tanner in The Husband Tree, though little Ruthy MacNeil in Swept Away is a tough, competent, sassy western spitfire.

Debra E. Marvin said...

PS = enjoyed seeing two alley cats hanging out together this week. What a sweet treat for the two of you!

Mary Vee Writer said...

Lucy definitely! Especially at the end when she risks her whole dream to tell the truth. Gotta love Sol too. What a rascal.

Mary Vee Writer said...

I was hoping someone would choose a tough character like Scarlett. She is the one we all hate but love. What drive, what courage. And how many of us in the end think she would get Rhett back in a sequel?

Mary Vee Writer said...

You've given Lucy her second vote! Yeah.
And I have to admit, I do love Bell from the Husband Tree, love her humor.

Ashley Clark said...

LOVE all these characters being brought up-- especially Susan in The Philadelphia Story and George in It's a Wonderful Life. :D

Great job with this blog, Mary!

Mary Vee Writer said...

Thanks, Ashley:)

Julia M. Reffner said...

All great choices both in the comments and the post. I love the way you brought the themes together here, Mary. Fantastic post!

Mary Vee Writer said...

Thanks, Julia.
Glad you stopped by:)
I like your choice.

Casey said...

This post is GENIUS, Mary! I had to go pin it. :D