Books can be character driven or plot driven or a nice mixture of both. Some readers say that without a great plot there is nothing, and that may be true to some extent, but I’m such a sucker for those characters.
I can almost overcome a few weak points in a plot if there are strong characters that I’ve been able to make a connection with. If I care about the characters, then storyline similarities to other books become less noticeable.
The connection doesn’t always have to be a love connection. I can feel just as much of a connection when I hate the main character. It’s really just about having that link that makes me care one way or the other. I need to have that passion and that fire for them. I don’t always need that passion for the events in the story when I have such a strong character connect.
If I want to see them burn for an eternity in Hades or meet their end at the tip of a sword in battle, then I know I’ve connected with them. If I care enough to choose a side, I know I’ll follow that series to the end. If I rant and rave endlessly after finishing a book on just how frustrating or stupid the main character was, there is no question that I’ve gotten attached.
And if my heart drops to the pit of my stomach, if I can’t stop the tears, if I feel like I’ve lost my best friend in the world, I know that character will be with me forever. Because all of those reactions mean that a union has been forged.
As beautiful as Cassandra Clare’s writing is, and how original her The Mortal Instruments books are, without my love for Clary, Jace, Simon and Magnus, it just wouldn’t be the same. If she hadn’t crafted each of those characters in such a way as to make me feel for them, want the best possible outcome for them, and cry when things didn’t always turn out the way I’d hoped they would, my love for the books wouldn’t be nearly as deep.
If there was no character connection in many of the books I’ve read, then it would be difficult to read subsequent books in the series. As much as I want to know what happens next in the story, what I really want to find out is what happens next for the characters. I would have followed Rose and Dimitri anywhere that Richelle Mead took them. It was the hope for the two of them that kept me coming back for more, time and time again.
And there is no set formula that will make me connect with a character. The attachments we make and the characters we choose to bond with are all very personally ours. The only real foundation that needs to be in place is that the character must be well-written. Readers have to know enough about a character to be able to make even the simplest of connections.
But whatever vehicle the author uses to help their character connect with a reader – be it a love triangle, the sympathy card or a nemesis – as long as we do make that connection, it’s pretty likely we’ll stick with them to the very end and even be left wanting more.
Here are just a few of my favorite characters I connected with: (Aside from Roland and Ray, they are in no particular order)
* Roland Deschain of The Dark Tower series – my all-time hero and my biggest heartbreak
* Ray Garrity of The Long Walk – my devastation
* Eric Northman of The Sookie Stackhouse novels – my favorite, sexy vampire
* Lestat of The Vampire Chronicles – my favorite evil but gorgeous vampire
* Clary Fray and Jace Wayland of The Mortal Instruments series – the most adorable heroine, the most perfect couple
* Rose Hathaway and Dimitri Belikov of The Vampire Academy series – my favorite heroine, the perfect hero-turned bad boy-turned hero
* Kaylee, Tod and Nash of the Soul Screamers series – my favorite bean sidhes, my favorite boy I love to hate, my favorite taker of souls
* Aura and Logan and Zach of the Shade series – my favorite most tormented heroine, my favorite third wheel, my favorite musician
* Calla and Ren and Shay of the Nightshade series – an ideal character trio
* Nick Ryves of The Demon’s Lexicon trilogy – my all-time favorite bad boy
* Frannie, Luc and Gabe of Personal Demons – the most steamy and my favorite heaven and hell love triangle
* Luce, Daniel and Cam of the Fallen series – my favorite good-boy bad-boy angels
* Meghan, Ash and Puck of The Iron Fey series – my favorite faerie love triangle
*Helen and Lucas of Starcrossed – my newest favorite ill-fated lovers
And these are only a handful of the many characters I’ve made that connection with. Without them all, and the many others I neglected to mention, stories about angels and demons, faeries, shifters, vampires, shades, gods and goddesses would just not be the same.
Do you make a character connection?
Are there characters that you will feel bonded with for eternity?