I wrote a short story last week and really felt like I was inside my protagonist for the whole time: both when writing and reading it back several days later. It is an area I always enjoy – inventing a character, giving them a personality – flaws and fears not excepted. For me, characterisation is one of the most powerful tools in fiction.
A good character can have the reader laugh and cry along with them. It can take them on a journey and help the reader to perhaps understand a little of their own character, their own flaws or fears. There are so many techniques to apply to make a character come to life and I have been working on instilling real human habits into mine. Observing the world and people watching is a great tool for this and highly recommended but no matter how much I take notes about others, those little snippets of myself still end up in my writing.
In this blog I want to celebrate some of my favourite characters from books I have admired during my life so far. I’m sure there is many great ones out there I am yet to discover, but this one is my current favourite. This is a character that stays with me long after reading. His pain, suffering, joys, failures and successes linger on and his voices – yes he has many – tempt me to re-read. Each time I do, I find renewed love of the character and admiration for the writer. Maybe one day I will have accomplished my aim to bring a character to life with as much believable complexity as this one:
The Fool/Amber/Lord Golden/Beloved/The White Prophet.
“I set no boundaries on my love. None at all. Do you understand me?”
This quote from The Golden Fool perhaps answers the biggest question The Fool leaves in my mind. He really did he love Fitz, wholly and unconditionally regardless of anything that had gone before or after and regardless of his aims and motives.
The Fool is first presented in Robin Hobb’s Farseer Trilogy and then takes on many guises throughout the rest of the books set in this world, and no doubt many more names besides these. The Fool is my most favourite character from any work of fiction. He is mysterious, multi-faceted, intelligent and as soon as I think I have a grasp on the who, what and why of the character, another face presents itself.
No other character has behaved so abominably, loyally, and selflessly, nor spun so many strands yet still left me guessing at the end. Each time I read the stories I reach the end desperate to know more about him. Each side of the character is a whole in itself and he transcends normal human emotions of love and loyalty, each side of the personality blending perfectly to the time and situation.
What really makes this character my favourite is the mysteries I am left with. Is he male or female? In what capacity does he love Fitz? Which part of his character is the real one? Or the first one? Why does he endure so much? These unanswered questions are the reasons I know that Hobb’s books will always be on my bookshelf and will always be returned to at frequent intervals. Each reading sparks a new interpretation of the character and I know there are elements of The Fool I still haven’t discovered.