Friday, November 12, 2010

Characters That Got on My Nerves

You know how sometimes there's just this one person (or several persons) who just get under your skin and don't want to leave?  Well, the same thing happens in every fiction medium.  The upside?  We get more to laugh at later.  When in doubt, spoof.

So here's my list of genuinely annoying characters (in no particular order.)

1.  Padme Amidala
So I've pretty much been a Star Wars fan since I was nine.  My favorite character will always be Obi-Wan Kenobi, the perpetually classy English gentleman who can wield a lightsaber like nobody's business, but Princess Leia is somewhere at the top of the favorites list.  I mean, she's cool.  She's calm, collected, has awesome aim, is ready to tell off any Empire official that she needs to, and marries Han Solo.  After all this epic amount of tell me that Amidala is the mother of Princess Leia?

Yes, Padme did have pretty good aim, but she was annoying, partly because of the abrupt change in her nature.  She goes from being a strong teenager, and later a strong if grating grown woman, to being the almost picture perfect description of the infamous "delicate condition."  Now, it's true that pregnant women can get a little emotional, but...really?  Even as a Galactic Senator with attitude, her tendency to be a touch idealistic got old.  Fast.  Her dialogue started to sound a lot like "Make love, not war" and "Let's talk about this, we can work out something..." and "War is never the answer; Galactic hugs can solve it all!"  At least her offspring weren't afflicted in such a way.  Thank goodness.

2.  Jacob Black
Yep, I admit it.  I'm an intelligent adult who read and *gasp* liked Twilight.  Well, mostly.  There's some funny stuff in the books, some interesting characters (multi-dimensional secondary characters that are likable aren't common, especially in romance.  Nicely done.)  No, this is not an endorsement for Team Edward.  (Go old school; choose Team Barnabas.  Yay, Johnny Depp.)  Regardless of any criticism of anything else in the books, when I read them, Jacob got on my nerves the most.  From the second book onward (because he was like a cute little kid in the first book and movie; what's not to like, right?  Everyone likes the nice guy) all he does is whine and get PO'ed at, well, everything.  He's like one of those guys who just wants to pick a fight because he wants to be a big boy and hit someone.  When I read Breaking Dawn, I was a little disappointed that 1/3 of the book was spent in Jacob's point of view.  Here's a paraphrase.

"I was seething.  I just got like, really mad, man, so I brooded a while.  Then I hit something, ate a steak, and drove my car really fast, then followed that up with some more brooding, and I took my shirt off.  Then I stared at Bella some more, and got mad again 'cause she was having her husband's kid." 
One chapter, plus  1/3 of a novel, plus way too much of the above keeps this character from being likable, at least for me.

3.  Anakin Skywalker (Younger Version)
I think he married Padme because annoying people are generally attracted to each other.  Or something.  At any rate, more could have been done with this character, considering he later became Darth Vader (who was awesome.)  All Anakin does, after he grows out of his 9-year-old perkiness, is have a tortured soul.  Here's another paraphrase.

Yeah, definitely a weak beginning for the baddest dad in the galaxy.

4.  Wesley Crusher
Need I say more?

5.  Christine Daae
"There's a voice in my wall teaching me how to sing.  Huh.  Must be the ghost of my dad.  I think I'll follow him into the mirror just to make sure."  This chick gets in my nerves.  When she and the Phantom are singing the title piece as she's going down to his lair, I cringe when she sings, not because of her voice, but because she gets on my nerves.  (Mostly I laugh, though.  That song has 80s guitar riffs.  I think I'll definitely just go see Wicked on Broadway.)   It would be one thing if the Phantom was a nice guy with some dermatological issues, but he's not.  He's a controlling pervert who will kill anyone he wants to get his way, and she still takes the whole story to decide between Raoul and the Phantom.  I like most of the music in the movie, though (never seen the actual stage musical, but yes, I am aware that there are differences.)  In the end, I want to tell poor Raoul to run away, because he could have done so much better.

 6.  Arya and Company
 I am a fan of Christopher Paolini's Inheritance Cycle.  Yeah, there are some things in there that ring a little familiar (as a fan of both Star Wars and The Lord of the Rings, they're a little obvious), but I am willing to overlook this because I like the characters and the story's well written.  Arya, though, and all of the other elves, just feel vaguely like the time I got chiggers in my legs when I was 11.  This girl, and her people, are too perfect and just a little out there for my taste.  Like literally out there.  Despite being immortal and probably being witness to the events that led to the formation of the Empire, many of them don't seem to have a clue as to what's going on in the rest of the world until the second book and seem happy to just make flowers grow and craft magical dragon tattoos.  Seriously, they don't care until someone starts burning trees.

7.  Lucy Westenra
Dracula is a great book.  As an epistolary novel, it draws the reader in because we're just as clueless as the characters as to what's going on, though there's a skillful bit of foreshadowing.  Good story, but Lucy really got to me.  She is a helpless character who I think could have been more.  (Sorry Bram.)  For crying out loud, the girl has to pick from three different potential fiances.  And she catches the eye of Vlad the Impaler.  Seriously?

I feel that she could have either been a stronger character or a nonexistent one.  Most adaptations of Dracula omit either her or Mina (or someone just falls in love with the Impaler himself.)  The latter is the better character, in my opinion.  She's smart, helpful, and strong and actually helps the guys find the offending vampire instead of sticking around her house and whining and fainting and stuff.  Granted, it's not like they know the source of Lucy's anemia in the beginning, but still.  I'm not going to re-write the book, though.  Lucy's fun to ridicule. 

8.  Estella
I can't let up on Feather.  Estella is a Mary Sue who is perfect, pretty, and, alas, a Chosen One.  She admires herself in the mirror, wonders why others aren't admitting that she's better looking, and pretty much hates on her peers because they supposedly don't like her due to her astounding good looks.  I found myself rolling my eyes at most of what she said.  She needed a lot of work that the author was not willing to put into her, and the books suffer because she's the main character.

So why this borderline hostile post?  I'm not trying to be hostile; I'm just showing you some things that you might want to keep out of your writing.  All characters deserve the work it takes to flesh them out, and your audience expects the same from you, and that's your responsibility as a writer:  to show your readers a good time.

Now just imagine a Jacob, a Wesley, an Estella, and a Lucy all in the same book.


1 comment: