The Beloved Character

Budding writers are really getting into perspective shifts now. The ability to shift points of view makes writing in first person so much easier a feat, since otherwise it is so limiting. But I must admit, as a reader I tend not to be a fan of P.O.V. shifts–usually because I only really care for one particular character. In rare cases, I may care for more than one character, and then I find myself enjoying the current perspective but constantly looking forward to the next shift.

Oftentimes P.O.V.s are done by chapter, remaining in one perspective for the duration of a chapter, and then choosing whether or not to switch for the next chapter. But I had just about enough of that with J. R. R. Tolkien’s The Lord of the Rings series. 30 pages of one character, and then I wait 100 pages for that character to turn up again? I couldn’t even concentrate on the next chapter because all I cared about was the previous character! Plus he was tracking so many characters, that by the time he came back around to one, I had already forgotten all about them, because I could only keep so many life stories in my head at one time (especially when getting distracted by scenery). Did anybody else have that problem?

The annoying thing about first person in general is that you can only view an event from one person’s perspective. Even with P.O.V. changes, most authors I’ve read rarely take the extra pages to recount the same event from a different character’s perspective. Perhaps they find it unnecessary, or overkill. And in some instances, given enough detail, I am sure they are correct. But in other instances, the reader really doesn’t know what a particular character is thinking. Sometimes that just adds to the suspense of the story. But sometimes, not knowing actually becomes a distraction while reading the story; for the next 10 pages you’re still trying to puzzle out one character’s reaction, and every word you read you hope is the secret decoder ring. So until you get that decoder ring, you miss everything that is said in the next several pages. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve had to flip ahead in a book to find a mini resolution, so I could go back and read the pages in between. (Though, thankfully, I don’t suffer that ailment with actual book endings, mostly because when you’re reading a series, book endings rarely make sense unless you’ve read the book all the way through.)

As those of you who have read the first volume of my series have undoubtedly noticed, my story features two strong characters–two main characters. This is unusual. Usually there is only one main character (though they may have a lover or sidekick who is constantly at their side). In the event that there are two, one of the characters is typically “weaker” than the other–for instance, the scrawny geek who is smart enough to think himself out of any situation, or the warrior who calls upon his remarkable strength or strange powers to change the tide of the battle. But most fantasy novels feature a strong hero (who may or may not know they are strong) and a strong villain (who usually knows or figures out that they’re strong enough to oppose the way others want things to be).

However, Beauty and the Beast is by nature a story that defies convention in these respects. Even the title portrays each character as not any more significant than the other. Traditionally, Beauty is physically attractive, practical, self-sacrificial, and strives to see beyond appearances, while the Beast is lonely, defensive, stubborn, and has an appearance that is unacceptable to society. These attributes can take many different forms, and do not have to be dictated by any particular circumstances, which is what makes renditions of the Beauty and the Beast story so unique from one another. Beauty may be smart and well-read, but that doesn’t necessarily make the Beast less so–in fact, usually he has a library with more books than Beauty has ever seen. So Beauty and the Beast are not necessarily opposites. And even the Disney version shows them more than capable of arguing, making Belle quite the rebellious damsel in distress. If Belle wasn’t so stubborn, the Beast would probably have pushed her around all the time, and he might never have fallen for her.

It is very important to me that my Beauty and my Beast are STRONG characters. Strong characters aren’t always going to get along, and there is not always going to be a clear victor when they don’t. But strong characters make for an extremely passionate pairing. In other words, the couple can be counterproductive at times, but when their priorities align, they make a powerful team. The only way to take down such a team is to separate them.

Labriella may seem like a weak character because she gets blown around a lot. But the only reason she gets blown around a lot, is because she cares about Rome, who is not at all an easy person to have any sort of relationship with.

Rome, on the other hand, is extremely indecisive. He has no problem making definitive decisions and sticking to them, but he overthinks things when it comes to Labriella because he cares too much.

But do not make the mistake of thinking that either of these characters is weak. They are human–in soul at least. Good and bad, strong and weak, aren’t so clear-cut.

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