By Keith Fisher
The best part of the fiction in many novels is the notice that the characters are purely imaginary. Franklin P. AdamsUS journalist (1881 - 1960)
Last week I published a list of woman of the year candidates that were characters from some of the books I read in 2007. This week I want to share a list of man of the year candidates using the same criteria.
As the beginning quote insinuates, sometimes the characters in fiction are larger than life, but other times they are people who waste the space in a manuscript. If those characters were real, I would be tempted to pull them aside, slap them silly and tell them to wise up. I am often disappointed in the male characters in the books I read.
If the author is a woman, the male protagonist is sometimes portrayed as selfish, whining, juveniles, who the female protagonist can control, dominate, and be better than. In the same vein, women who are written by men, are often brainless helpmeets who wouldn’t think of having a thought of their own. Of course there are many authors who create characters that live. Those characters possess all the good and bad qualities that real people have, and if they are created well, they have something that can be admired, respected, and emulated. Those are the characters we will remember forever.
In my reading this year, I found many men who have taught me something. First on the list is Macon Fallon from the book Fallon by Louis L’Amour the author of this book created many strong male characters over the years, some were revisits under a different name, but I chose Fallon because he came to the realization that having love and respect was better than walking away with everything else. The character was very much a man, even admitting his total lack of understanding of women.
Next we need to talk about Sam Carson. Here is a man who tries hard to fix problems but he knows that he can do little, if anything, that would make a difference. He’s the kind of man who could use a good dose of feminine wisdom but we like him all the same. Sam is on the pages of False Pretenses by Carole Thayne.
Next is Robert Harlan in A Perfect Day by Richard Paul Evans. This man is a great example of what could happen to a writer who finds more success than he can deal with. Almost too late, he realizes what’s most important in life. It is a good lesson for writers but more than that, I can relate to the character. He is real and he is written well. One might suspect there are elements of true story but the author refutes that rumor in the dedication.
Last but not least is a man who reinvents himself several times. He passes through trials most men never deal with in their lifetime. His behavior, at times, is so frustrating I want to shake him, at other times I want to be like him. A man could learn a lot from this character. His name is Gene Thomas from the Hearts of the Children series by Dean Hughes.
After complaining that there was a lack of male characters these days, I set out to find some, and I found a pile. I must not end before I mention two more,
Ken Sugihara is the protagonist in Nothing to Regret by Tristi Pinkston
Owen Richards from Race Against Time and the sequel, Pursuit of Justice by Willard Boyd Gardner.
This list is too short but space is limited. If you think back on all the characters you’ve known over the years, then think of why you remember them, what must be done will become clear. Think about the character of Wil Anderson. He was the character John Wayne played in the movie The Cowboys. It’s true the actor developed that character and made him what he is, but Wayne had great building blocks to start with, and they were provided by a writer.
Good luck with your writing in the New Year. Woo Hoo! 2008, and you thought you’d never get through 2007.