Friday, January 18, 2013

Can Characters Make or Break a Story?

What do I remember most about a story?

Occasionally, it's the plot.

But most of the time I fall in love with a story because of the characters. Many stories are plot-driven, but what makes those stories memorable for me is when the characters grow from their journey. Characters need to be flawed, but I have to like them. I have to relate to them. I have to care whether they live or die.

Has anybody seen the Walking Dead? (I know, silly question. I'm probably the last one to see it.) Well, I decided to see what all the fuss was about and watched the season three premiere back in October. The characters don't talk in the first few minutes of the story. I had no background on who they were. All they did was run into half-dead, rotting, sick people and kill them. Frankly, I couldn't figure out what all the buzz was about. I shrugged my shoulders and went on about my way.

Well, a few months later, I came across a copy of the first season and decided to try it again...this time from the beginning. I popped in the first dvd, but I didn't stop there, I had to go on to the next, and eventually, on to season two. Now, I'm trying hard to catch up on the third season before it starts again this February. I'm not really a zombie fan, not even close. I really don't get into many horror films either. (I scare pretty easily.) But I've gotten into Walking Dead.

Why?

Because of the characters. Robert Kirkman does an amazing job with his characters. I care about them. I even cry when they die, (and they're going to die, otherwise it wouldn't be a zombie show). He gives them compassion, humanity in an inhuman world, and love. And the characters that don't, I tend to dislike- like I should- and be frustrated with them.

The plot is kind of crazy. The gore is over the top. But I keep watching because I care about the characters. I care about what happens to them. The goal is simple...survive. The characters are not. How they survive, how they interact, how they react, that's what keeps me coming back.

When I finally made it to season three and re-watched the first episode, it all made sense. I got it and it was perfect. The characters didn't need to talk. By not talking, you knew they were a cohesive group under Rick's leadership. You could tell they were on the move, trying hard to stay alive. You knew they were starving for more security.

I'm excited, just like everyone else, for the second half of season three to start up. I want to know what happens to those amazing characters. Who will rise? Who will break? How will they continue to survive?

What makes a story good for you? Do you get caught up in the characters or the plot?

 
Written by Robert Kirkman. Illustrated by Tony Moore, and Charlie Adlard
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