Thursday, March 19, 2015

The Times, They Are (or Aren’t?) A-Changing

by Alan

In a series, do you prefer a protagonist who changes over time or one who stays the same?

What’s that saying? Half dozen of one, half dozen of the other?

Actually, I suppose I have a slight preference for characters who change over the course of a series.

I think it adds depth to a story/character/make-believe world when characters undergo change, and I like it when a character grows from book to book. It’s more believable (and more relatable) to read about people changing as they age (I know my hair’s gotten a bit grayer over the years). About people getting married, having kids, losing jobs, retiring, getting hip replacements, and all the other life milestones.

So, if fiction is supposed to reflect life, then writing about characters changing is only natural.

On the other hand, we ARE talking about fiction here, so if a writer wants to maintain a certain feel or time period throughout a number of books, who am I to argue? I don’t see anything wrong with that. After all, writers handle the passage of time differently (some try to keep in step with the “real” calendar, while others pick arbitrary timelines. Others write prequels and sequels and alternate universes, etc.). As long as writers are clear about what they’re doing, I’m okay with whatever decision they make. (And as Tracy said yesterday, there is something mighty comforting falling in with an iconic character who NEVER changes. Sometimes it’s nice to have one constant in an ever-changing world.)

Having characters change during a series does present certain challenges, especially to me as a reader. You see, I have trouble remembering what’s happened in books I’ve read, so I often don’t remember the changes a protagonist has experienced from one book to the next (What? When did he get married and have kids? And, more importantly, what the heck happened to his ’82 Mustang?). This means I sometimes find myself lost when I’ve set aside a series for too long, and I have trouble getting back into it.

Of course, maybe I’m just getting old. RUNNING cover

1 comment:

Meredith Cole said...

Ha! I remember when I found out in a recent book that Kinsey Millhone no longer drove a VW bug--and I just couldn't picture her in any other car! I think I'm getting old, too, Alan...