Kootenai River in NW Montana, near Canadian Border

Kootenai River in NW Montana, near Canadian Border
photo by Gene Tunick of Eureka, Montana

Friday, December 30, 2011

Tip O'Day #252 - The Likeable Hero

Guest blogger Bob Stewart on “every novel ever written.”

It was the first day of a college creative writing class. The professor wrote the following sentence on the blackboard: “A likeable character battles against great odds to achieve a worthwhile goal.”

He turned to face the class. “That is the one sentence description of every novel ever written.”

Over the years I’ve measured many of literature’s great stories against this one-sentence description, even novels and motion pictures built on characters with major flaws, but who possess an indomitable spirit. Great stories pretty much hold up to this writing truth and I try to infuse my own writing with that element. No character has a more indomitable spirit than the literary classic, The Count of Monte Cristo, a tale of a hapless son of the sea who spent years in a dungeon planning his revenge after he was betrayed by his best friend over a woman.

I’m sure you have your favorites. I can’t resist the impulse to challenge you to read my favorite book, The Watchers by Dean Koontz. It is a love story on many levels – man for woman, woman for man, animal for humanity – about a failed scientific experiment. Very flawed characters here – a man on the verge of suicide, a woman who is a virtual recluse – and a dog that’s one of the most likeable characters you’ll ever meet. The three join forces to achieve the worthwhile goal – love.

The character of the dog may be one of the prime influences in the creation of one of my novels, Alias Thomas A. Katt, written in first person from the cat’s POV. The cat switches bodies with his mistress’ boyfriend only to discover the boyfriend is a serial killer. I call it “feline noir.” The cat’s major flaw? A fear of becoming too human.

To learn more about Bob, check out www.writerbobstewart.com/
Dixon say: Bob contradicts my post yesterday, when I wrote that a book featuring an unsympathetic antihero can just as valid as the “likeable hero” paradigm. That’s okay – there are many opinions on what makes a good novel, and who’s to say what’s right or wrong? If you have a thought on this or another subject and would like to try a guest post, send your submission to me at montananovels@yahoo – Happy New Years to all!

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