In my opinion one of the key components of a character is making their personality realistic. If the character’s personality isn’t realistic the reader will have a hard time connecting to the character, and the fewer characters a reader can relate to the less they will enjoy the book.
After personality the next important thing in my opinion is the character’s background. This is because a character’s background explains their personality, acts as the foundation for development, and gives reasoning to a character’s actions.
As mentioned in a previous blog one of my favorite series is the Inheritance Cycle by Christopher Paolini, and one of the main reasons for this is the series does a wonderful job of establishing the characters’ personalities and backgrounds throughout the series and using that to establish how the character will develop. This makes for realistic and relatable characters even in a fantasy setting.
For instance one of my favorite characters from the series is called Murtagh. Murtagh is first introduced as a teenager fending for himself on the streets in the middle of the fictional dystopian continent of Alagaësia. This causes him to be naturally good in battle, and a little closed off from others. As the series goes on you learn that Murtagh had an abusive father, and that is why he so closed off. The reason this gets revealed is Murtagh was abducted by the dictator like King Galbatorix who informed Murtagh that the main character Eragon was actually Murtagh’s step brother. The combination of Murtagh’s envy at Eragon being sheltered from Murtagh’s father who was Eragon’s step father combined with the torture that Murtagh experienced at the hands of Galbatorix caused Murtagh to turn against Eragon to protect himself and the ones he loves. As the series progresses you see Murtagh once again join the fight against Galbatorix when aiding him put Murtagh’s loved ones in danger. After Murtagh helps defeat Galbatorix he actually leaves his loved ones behind because he is afraid that society won’t accept him do to his past. This character was so amazing because he was realistic. He had a rough past that made you sympathize with him, but also explains his actions and why he spends the whole series fending for himself as he had no other option growing up.
This is similar to the characters of Victor Frankenstein and his Creation from Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein. This can be seen in the Creation’s rejection from society due to his appearance and origins. Murtagh is also similar to Victor in the sense that throughout the story both are trying to protect not only themselves, but their loved ones leading them to do things they would later regret. The main difference between Murtagh and Victor is Murtagh completely regrets his mistakes, but Victor only completely regrets a few of his mistakes. The main difference between the Creation and Murtagh is that even though both have been beaten, and at one point rejected by society, Murtagh had people that loved and accepted him where the Creation had no one.
Character development is what makes characters like Murtagh, Victor Frankenstein, and the Creation so memorable. They act and behave according to how their past shaped them just like anyone else would.