Today I want to talk about two types of characters that never fail to affect me. When I meet them in a book or on screen, I think about them for days or years afterwards. They become prototypes for characters I try to create in my own writing.
The first is the self-sacrificing character. The ones who sacrifice something hugely important to themselves for the sake and love of someone else. Jean Valjean sacrifices his own safety to save Marius, which is actually a double sacrifice because keeping Marius alive means he is also giving up Cozette. Mr. Darcy sacrifices incredible amounts of time, effort and money to save Lydia for Elizabeth's sake. Niles Crane sacrifices seven seasons of happiness to keep Daphne comfortable and keep things on her time table. (Ok, this last one could maybe be considered a stretch, but Niles is one of the best characters ever and it works for me).
What are your favorite self-sacrificing characters and what do they sacrifice? Do you have real-life examples of self-sacrificing people that you know that could maybe be used as creative fodder? I actually have a directly creative reason for asking about this, because getting some self-sacrifice ideas would help me get over the last big plot hole of my current WIP. So ideas would be great :)
The second are the deeply disturbed characters who have a plethora of things wrong with them, nearly everything about them except for the love of someone else. I think I have less company in adoring these kinds of characters then I do with the self-sacrificing ones, because they often come off as mere creepers. But for some reason I think these characters are fascinating. Severus Snape is a rude, bitter dude, but when we find out about his love for Lilly our opinion of him changes. (Makes him one of the best HP characters, if you're me). Claude Frollo is a total nut job, including in his love for Esmerelda, but it is this love that makes him seem, at least to me, pitiable and human. Ben Linus is a psychotic, manipulative murderer, but he becomes much more complex, relatable, even admirable in his love for his adopted daughter Alex, his childhood crush, even in his admittedly creepy love for Juliette. Do you like these kinds of characters as much as I do? Who are some of your favorite?
These are some of the types of characters I adore reading and writing about. Do you have favorite character types? What makes them intriguing to you?
Anyway, happy writing!