author C.C.Cole's blog

Monday, July 22, 2013

On the Tragic Characters

Harvey Dent "The Dark Knight"

I’ve found in creating stories, creating a character beginning at the pinnacle of achievement and having the reader witness the fall from grace adds a deep tragic drama to the tale.  From heroes becoming anti-heroes to a loving mother devolving down a dark path of destruction into criminal elements. 

What I’ve always been told about tragic characters is that they must have a capacity for greatness.  For it’s the greatness we readers experience in the story to become reeled in, as we cheer our upcoming hero or heroine taking on the challenge to achieve the great deeds.

Then, the downfall happens.  Why?  That’s part of what’s great about writing; these characters open up wide areas for authors to ponder about what would bring a good, honest character to madness or evil.  Also, it may not be that extreme, such as indifference but to me, as a fantasy writer, extremity is the point. 

Characters fall from grace the way people do, such as loss of a loved one, betrayed by a trusted friend, or temptation by greater powers.  Either way, they fall and the impact they make reverberates throughout the rest of the story.  If the character begins great enough, the fall will affect everyone in one way or another.

This can be looked at another way, of course.  Evil can be changed to good.  I don’t see this written as often, but redemption certainly has its place in my own writing, and rising from the bottom can impact the reader as equally as falling from the top. 

So, writers go out and write something awesome.  I think tragic characters bring an element of humanity to stories, to remind us of what is important to us and how fragile life can really be.

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