6-Hera Syndulla

Favorite Character Types, Part 2

So, it turns out that I left out some character types from my last post!  And it’s becoming a tradition for me to publish 2-part posts–and on that note, Part 2 of A Few Note About Christine Daae is coming up, so stay tuned.  🙂

But for now, on to the character types!

The Responsible Eldest Sibling

Without, being over-protective, mind; it is possible to be responsible without being neurotic.  Right, siblings of mine?

*cricket chirps*

Anyway, I greatly respect the eldest child who takes the responsibility and power that comes with being the firstborn.  Younger siblings are watching, and they will pick up on the attitudes and actions of the eldest.  The eldest child also is the first to take on more chores, the first to drive the car, the first to have to balance school and social life, and so on–and therefore, they can help teach those things to the younger kids.  Also, I have a thing for protective characters.

Katniss Everdeen fits this category, as does Gale Hawthorne (if you’ve read the books, you know that he has younger brothers and one sister).  So does Peter Pevensie, Maedhros from The Silmarillion (to a degree), Rachel Lennox from Dancing Shoes, Roberta from The Railway Children, Ben and Polly Pepper from Five Little Peppers and How They Grew (Ben is the eldest, but he and Polly share the responsibilities of looking after the younger children), Dominick Rigonda from The Island Queen, and Sir Percy Ashwell from Elisabeth Allen’s The Abolitionist.

The Cynical Softie

This is the guy who seems hard, bitter, and tough, “like an India-rubber ball,” as Mr. Rochester says, but who is really a softie at heart, more caring than he lets on, and was perhaps hopeful and idealistic before he got knocked around by life.  This doesn’t excuse his behavior, by any means–but it does mean there’s more to him than meets the eye.  And it means the potential for redemption as well.

Sydney Carton is probably the poster boy for this type, but Mr. Rochester fits the bill too.  Puddleglum from The Silver Chair also fits this category; he isn’t exactly cynical, though he does believe in taking a serious view of life.  But he looks after Jill and Eustace with determination and puts very odd twists of cheerfulness on the situation–because one good thing about being stuck underground is that you don’t get any rain.

The Optimist

To be honest, I fit the category of softhearted cynic.  ‘Cause life is a total bed of roses, don’t you know.  But even in this sin-cursed world, there is hope and light and happiness.  And I love those ever-optimistic characters who remind me (and readers) of that truth.

The optimist is the guy who can’t be discouraged for very long.  He always hopes–always, even after being disappointed multiple times.  He may develop a slightly less rose-colored view of the world as the story goes on, but he refuses to be beaten down and given into despair.  He can always find a reason to be cheerful–and a reason to persevere.

Sam Gamgee is definitely one example; Pippin Took is another; and Bilbo Baggins has shades of this in The Hobbit.  Other characters of this type are Caspian and Lucy from The Chronicles of Narnia.

Outgoing & Bookish

This is the character who is definitely an extrovert, but who isn’t the empty-headed, party kid stereotype.  On the contrary, this characters loves to be around other people, but loves to read and learn just as much.  They handle their problems, goals, hobbies, and conflicts differently than the introverted characters–but they are no less intelligent and focused.

Unfortunately, I can’t think too many characters who fit this label except the ones I’ve written (writers–be nicer to extroverts, please.)  I consulted with Gingersnap, and she came up with Nim from the movie Nim’s Island (yes, it’s a book too, but I’ve seen only the movie).  Edmund Pevensie also fits this type–he’s stated outright to have read several detective novels, but he also is the sort to say what’s on his mind.  And then after the events of Prince Caspian, Caspian himself is far more outgoing than he once was, but he was also bookish to a degree when young.  Also Jane Porter from the Disney cartoon Tarzan and Henry Tilney from Northanger Abbey.  And Anne from Anne of Green Gables.

The Sharp Wit

Have I mentioned I love a sharp wit?  From the outgoing sassmasster to the deadpan snarker, I love quick-minded characters.  This guy is never at a loss for words, but rather than being a blabbermouth, his lines are clever and witty.  And he often makes a good point about the situation (though his remarks can easily turn into complaining).  No matter what situation or argument you throw at this guy, he can fire back an answer and usually dismantle your point in the process.

Tony Stark fits the outgoing sassmaster type (though he does overlap with Deadpan Snarker as well), and so does Legolas from The Lord of the Rings (this may come as a surprise–but read his dialogue again.  He’s not exactly the subtle, deadpan type!).  Also Peter Parker/Spiderman, and Anakin Sykwalker.

More character than I can name fit the deadpan snarker category: Haymitch Abernathy, Sydney Carton, Captain America, Clint Barton, Natasha Romanoff, Bruce Banner, Jane Eyre, Mr. Rochester, Edmund Pevensie, Aragorn, Merry, sometimes Gandalf, Bruce Wayne, Alfred Pennyworth, Selena Kyle, The Phantom of the Opera, Obi-Wan Kenobi, Han Solo, Eames and Arthur from the film Inception, and so many others that I can’t recall all their names.

And believe me, I write this type of character too.

The Reasonable Authority Figure

Authorities get a bad rap in fiction, don’t they?  They’re often overbearing, un-listening, and always block the protagonist’s path.  If they’re fat and they have a mustache, you know they’re a bad guy.  And if he’s a bigwig in charge of a lot of companies/employees/whatever, he’s bound to let it go to his head.

Which is why I love the reasonable authority figure.  He is dedicated to his job, but also willing to listen to the protagonist.  (Which is no easy feat; lest’s face it, the trouble protagonists run into are often really, really hard to prove and convince others of.)  And though he’s patient with the main character, he will not hesitate to call out our hero if he’s being a jerk.

James Green from Mercy Street fits this type.  So does Doctor Thorne from the TV drama of the same name (yes, I know it’s a Trollope novel too, but I haven’t read it).  Alfred Pennyworth (from The Dark Knight trilogy) is a reasonable authority figure, as is Jarrod Barkley and Victoria Barkley from The Big Valley.

So there you have it!  What are your favorite character types?  Are there any others you’d add to these categories?

6-Hera Syndulla

Favorite Character Types

I loved Chelsea’s post about her favorite types of characters, and she kindly let me borrow the idea for my own blog!  These are the folks I most enjoy reading about:

The Principled/Steadfast Fighter

Captain America is probably the poster boy for this type!

This character may fit into the generic “good guy” category, but his (or her) defining feature is dedication to what he believes is right.  Characters such as Captain America, John Blake from The Dark Knight Rises, Jarrod Barkley from The Big Valley, Jane Eyre, Fanny Price, Peeta Mellark from The Hunger Games, King Tirian from The Last Battle, and Puddleglum from The Silver Chair.  (Gloomy as Puddleglum is, when things are on the line, he’s steadfast in his principles!)

And this kind of character doesn’t always win the battle–Travis from The Alamo is this type (though, in a twist, definitely not a generic good guy).  But while winning the battle is important, for this character, doing what he believes is right is the ultimate fight.  And I love these kinds of characters because they give me hope, inspire me to stand up for my principles.

The Gentle/ Good-Hearted Fighter

Hugh Dancy as Daniel Deronda from the 2002 mini-series.

This is the guy who may seem like he’s too mild or gentle or soft-hearted to fight–but for these guys, Good Is Not Soft.  This is the character who cares deeply about his world, his loved ones, and his morals, and because of that deep love, he fights as fiercely as any hardened warrior.  Frodo and Faramir from The Lord of the Rings are the prime examples, but others are Jean Valjean, Samuel Diggs from Mercy Street, Igor from Victor Frankenstein, Fanny Price (again), and Bilbo Baggins.  Possibly also Daniel Deronda.  Steve Barton’s portrayal of Raoul also fits this category.  Just listen to his rendition of “All I Ask of You”–he’s understated, but earnest, and you can tell that he’d be willing to walk through fire for Christine.

This character is a subset of the principled fighter, but I enjoy this type because their fierceness is unexpected.  They get the upper hand because they look too tender to  do any damage–and yet they ultimately care so very deeply they’re willing to lay down their lives to defend what they love.  Durant from my story Gentle Fire is definitely this type.

The No-Nonsense Mentor

A comic I drew back in 2013!

Forget the wise old man smoking a pipe and delivering quiet (if vague) words of wisdom; I like the mentors who tell it like it is and won’t put up with your whining, who whip ya into shape, and have a sharp wit to boot.  Think Gandalf, Alfred Pennyworth, Obi-Wan from the prequels, and Captain Pellew from the Horatio Hornblower TV series.  Dr. Livesey from Treasure Island kinda fits this category as well.

I think I like this type because the “wise old man” mentor type seems to deliver very vague advice and let the hero figure out the context/deeper meaning on his own.  And if I were a young hero-in-training, I would be incredibly frustrated.  Either tell me what to do point blank, or let me do it my way.  No waffling in between those options, please.  And the no-nonsense mentor does not waffle.  Their advice is “take it or leave it.”  That, and I love a sharp wit.  🙂

Honest, Honorable Men

These guys get labelled “bland” or “boring” because All Girls Want Bad Boys–until we’re pestered by that one boy who won’t take no for an answer, and then our distaste for honorable men comes back to bite us.

Ahem.  Sorry, got sidetracked.  But seriously, what’s wrong with a respectful and honest guy?  Just because they lack an edgy dark side doesn’t mean they’re boring.  Case in point would be Charles Darnay from A Tale of Two Cities.  Many people compare him to Sydney Carton and declare Sydney a more interesting character.  But that doesn’t mean Charles is one-dimensional.  He makes mistakes.  He should have told his family he was heading back to France.  His pride was nettled as Englishmen ridiculed the French aristocracy, the class to which he belonged–even though he had renounced his heritage.  And just look at his interactions with Lucie—when alone with his beloved, this honest, straightforward, principled young man turns into a sentimental softie who calls her pet names.  It’s adorable.

(And from a story analysis perspective, if Charles hadn’t been honorable and honest, Sydney would probably not have been inspired to change.  Comparing himself to Charles showed him what he could be, if he just made the effort.  But that’s another topic for another post.)

Other honest, honorable characters are Jarrod Barkley, Daniel Deronda, Mr. Darcy, and Edward Ferras from Sense & Sensibility, and James Green from Mercy Street.  A female example would be Jane Eyre (actually,  we could use  more female characters in this category.  I specified male characters because I respect those qualities, and I”m tired of the bad boy attraction, but women ought to be honest and honorable too.)

The Leader

This is how I picture Peter Pevensie!

I love a man who takes charge (without being a bully) and who knows what to do in the situation.  A man with initiative and willing to plunge right into things and get involved.  I can’t express how much I love the leaders!.  Characters like Jarrod Barkley, Captain America, Peter Pevensie, Aragorn, Hadley Fraser’s Raoul from The Phantom of the Opera, and  Lucky Jack from Master and Commander: The Far Side of the World.

I like the leaders because, first of all, that is the role God assigned to men.  And I respect a man who embraces that role and doesn’t let the culture dictate otherwise.  It’s also quite admirable when a man sees what needs to be done and steps up to the plate, takes the responsibility of handling a sticky situation and tries to solve the problems that get thrown his way.

The Tragic Hero/Antagonist

Henry Jekyll

Often presented in a cautionary tale, I like the heroes who definitely have a downward arc, but who also have either a valid point about the situation or good intentions.  Characters like Javert from Les Miserables: he’s often viewed as the antagonist with no room for mercy or grace in his mind–but think just how sad that is!  Also, as much as I root for Valjean, he did break his parole.  Javert was justified in at least locating the fugitive.

Other such characters would be Robert Angier from The Prestige (film), Dr. Jekyll from the 1994 concept album of Jekyll & Hyde.  Oh, and Boromir, my goodness.  Possibly also Maedhros from The Silmarillion; I relate to that guy more than I should (we’re both the eldest, both responsible, both very honor/duty driven, devastated by any mistakes that violate those last two values…)  And I would argue Gale Hawthorne fits into this category.  Because he was determined, intelligent, intuitive, and creative.  And he misused all that, even though he was trying to help win the war.

I am honestly not sure why I like this kind of character.  I don’t enjoy watching someone destroy themselves–maybe it’s a combination of respect for whatever good intentions the character has, plus a sobering warning.

Silk Hiding Steel

These are the ladies who seem like products of their time (in historical fiction) or the so-hated doormats in a contemporary setting.  These ladies are actually not doormats.  They are quiet but firm, gentle but principled–and as such, when push comes to shove, they are unflinching, industrious, and intelligent with spines of steel.  Lucie Manette, for example.  She was gentle and compassionate, and she spends most of the book caring for her family.  She also followed her husband to France when he was unjustly imprisoned, worked bravely in a foreign country where she was in constant danger of being also imprisoned herself, and every day, journeyed to a corner of the street where her husband might be able to see her if he could get to one of the upper windows of the prison.  And she stood there for two hours to let him catch a glimpse of her when he was able to.  Every day.  Just to encourage her imprisoned husband and remind him that she was there for him.  She also suffered no breakdowns, and she persevered through apprehension and uncertainty for two years.  Oh, and the Reign of Terror was going on during this time.   Lucie swoons only after her husband is unjustly imprisoned for the second time and sentenced to death.  How in the world is she a weak character?

Or take Christine from The Phantom of the Opera.  She seems naive and overly-trusting–but notice that she trusts only those people she considers friends.  Which at first included the Phantom, but after she learns his true identity, she flees from him and never ultimately trusts him again.  She also, after being lied to and betrayed by the man she considered her mentor, was not afraid to love again, and trusted Raoul to protect her (even though she disagreed with his methods later).  And after all that–she remained compassionate toward the man who had hurt her so badly.  Christine is awesome, guys.  For deeper analysis of her character, check out my post here.

Jane Eyre also fits this Silk Hiding Steel category, and Elinor Dashwood , Fanny Price, Emma Green from Mercy Street, and Lisa Carew from the 1994 concept album of Jekyll & Hyde.  Probably others I can’t think of just now.  🙂

So there you have it, some of my favorite character types!  Are there any more you would add to the list?


6-Hera Syndulla

Picture Friday

Posting a day early because TOMORROW IS CHRISTMAS!  And I shall be busy either celebrating or chilling with my family–Chris and I have a tradition of watching A Child’s Christmas in Wales together every Christmas Eve.  So, long story short, I shan’t have the time or interest to post on Saturday.

Sydney Carton must be my art muse.  A reasonable explanation for why I draw him all the time.  Wonder what he would think about that if he knew?  He probably wouldn’t care and would ignore me whenever I sat near to draw him.  Which, on the one hand, means he wouldn’t immediately get up and leave in a huff,  ruining the pose and reference.  On the other hand, he wouldn’t necessarily bother to sit still.

It suddenly occurs to me how insane I sound to people who are not writers, and who therefore do not have conversations with imaginary characters, their own or others’, in their heads on a daily basis.  🙂

Anyway, this is the scene from the book in which Sydney wanders Paris the night before Charles’s second trial and after gaining secret entry to the prison if needed.  That wandering scene haunts me; in a way, Sydney is lonely in the sense of being physically alone and also alone in knowledge, having formed his final plan and resolved to act upon it.  But it’s not the utter isolation, the void of comfort and cheerful company, that he faced earlier in the story.  Not to mention the fact that we get a little of Sydney’s backstory here, and that he remembers Scripture for possibly the first time in years.

On a whim, I drew Christine Daae getting ready for a performance.  Hence the slightly exaggerated facial features (I love drawing actor/actress characters in stage makeup).  In my imagination, she’s in a play or opera centering around the Greek myth of Persephone.

Michael Maguire as Enjorlas from the 10th Anniversary Concert of Les Miserables.  I drew this as a last-minute present for Gingersnap, and I do mean last-minute.  Around 2:00 p.m. the day of her birthday, I realized I hadn’t gotten her anything–my contribution is usually a decorated cake, which was out of the question due to my recovering from sickness–and the drawing idea popped into my mind.  I found and printed a reference photo, dashed back to my bedroom, and sketched and erased with all haste.  Approximately 5 hours later, the drawing was finished–and even then, I had to dash back to my room while family and guests served themselves dinner (it was a buffet-style spread) and finish the jacket.  But Gingersnap was pleased; Michael Maguire is one of her favorite singers.

I had “Red and Black” in my head almost the whole time I was drawing.  Not that that’s a bad song to have stuck in your head…

Finally, the happy Sydney picture I promised!  Here he is with little Lucie and in a scene that isn’t exactly from the book, but one that might have happened.  And it makes me happy.

Merry Christmas to all my readers!












6-Hera Syndulla

Picture Saturday-From the Archives

I was tired this week and didn’t have time to draw.  So this Picture Saturday will be artwork done within the last year or so, and all of it from Dickens’ novel A Tale of Two Cities.

I love that story.  It’s beautiful, tragic, thought-provoking, and funny, with the usual Dickens hallmarks of dry wit and multiple characters.  On that note, I admire how Dickens handled all of those characters: he shows right off the bat how they are connected to one another (the Defarges were servants of Doctor Manette; Mr. Lorry was a friend of Doctor Manette; Jerry Cruncher was an errand-runner for Tellison’s Bank where Mr. Lorry worked; Sydney Carton was the lawyer that got Charles Darney freed from English prison, and so on).  But as the story unfolds, Dickens shows that these characters are actually connected in a darker, deeper way.  I’ve watched too many films in which a bunch of characters appear in an opening montage, but it’s unclear how they influence the story or each other.  Dickens, however, reveals the relevance and some connections at once, and lets the deeper connections unfold as the story.

I told a friend in an e-mail that I’ve read blogs of young ladies who write, who deeply admire Jane Austen, and who aspire to her level of writing.  But I’ve never read of a young lady who aspires to the level of Dickens.  It’s interesting and perplexing; I like Jane Austen’s works too, but Dickens has such a high scope in his stories, tackling social issues of the day, writing with both passion and intellect, creating characters so very distinct, characters admirable—or despicable.  The kind of writing that makes you think, makes you laugh, requires repeated readings to understand more and better.  I love the complexity and high concepts of Dickens’ novels; it’s the kind of thing I want to write.

Okay, enough talk.  On to the drawings!

As I re-read the book last year, I got the most vivid mental image of Charles Darnay.  And anything vivid, I have to draw.  So…


This turned out almost exactly the way I imagine him.  There’s a funny story behind getting there, however.  I initially sketched a profile and features that was almost perfect.  Elated, I tried to polish the shading—which promptly destroyed that perfect detail.  It was no longer exactly like my mental image; close, but not as perfect as it had been.  Bother.  I tweaked it, risked destroying what remained, and decided to make myself stop.  Then I rethought that, tweaked the picture further—and finally got it back where it had been before my perfectionism messed it up.  Perfectionism is what also fixed the problem.  Paradox, anyone?

Anyway, I’m happy with how this turned out.  And I think Simon Thomas (the singer who plays Charles in the UK theatrical concert) influenced my design, or at least those cheekbones, which were a whole lotta fun to draw!



And here’s Sydney!  This too is almost exactly the way I picture him—and if you’re wondering why his profile is so nearly identical to Charles’s, it’s because I got lazy and just traced Charles’s picture to create this.

I like how this sketch turned out too.  I also succeeded in one of my goals: getting Sydney and Charles to be nearly identical at a glance, but revealing subtle differences when you look closer.  (Differences other than Sydney’s messy hair, loose cravat, and grumpy expression, for the record.)  Dickens never said the two men were identical, though they were “sufficiently like” to inspire a double-take in the onlookers.

46-Lucie Manette-sketch

The scanner messed up the shading here.  Artist problems.

Ahem.  Here’s a rough depiction of Lucie—“rough” because this isn’t as close to the way I picture her as my drawings of Sydney and Charles are to the way I imagine them.  Lucie, in my mind has finely-cut but softly-cut features, a narrow chin, and a small-is nose that turns up ever so slightly.   Which is what I tried to capture here, though I didn’t make it match ex-act-ly to my mental picture.  Early versions of the drawing looked like Brandi Burkhart, interestingly enough.

I’ll probably tweak this design later, but it works for now.  Her hair and her dress came out well, though.

68-Sydney glowering

Grumpy Sydney.

3-Sydney frustrated and sad

Discouraged Sydney.

I draw Sydney a lot.  He’s such a vivid, complex character that I have to depict him in pictures.  Also, his messy hair is fun to draw.

5-Smiling Sydney!

Enough angst—here’s Sydney smiling at something!  Or someone; perhaps Little Lucie.  And he cleans up nicely, doesn’t he?

10-Charles, translating French

Charles translating French literature.  Or maybe marking student papers.  It’s amazing to consider that this young aristocrat renounced his social position and title, and determined to earn his own living to separate himself from the atrocities of his kinsmen.  Renouncing the status of a gentlemen (a nobleman, no less) to earn your own living was a huge drop in social status, and kind of a big deal back then.

Have I mentioned I really admire Charles Darnay?  He’s so honorable and humble and committed to his values—yet so ridiculously adorable with Lucie.  The pet names he calls her are precious, and it’s funny how he’s so proper and serious among others, and then he turns so sentimental when he’s with his wife.  I love it.

I also like how this drawing turned out; although note to self: practice drawing hands.  Handses, precious.


22-'Little one'

“[Sydney] was the first stranger to whom little Lucie held out her chubby arms, and he kept his place with her as she grew.”

~ Book 2, Ch. 21

Oh, the feels I had while drawing this!  Happy, sad, grieved, utterly excited, adoring…  A Tale of Two Cities and its characters has that effect on people.  Well, on me and my friend Bella at least.  🙂  Speaking of Bella, she wanted a drawing of Sydney and little Lucie, and I was only too happy to oblige.  We’d discussed potential scenes between the Darnay family and Sydney, how little Lucie might run to greet him and ask why he didn’t brush his hair like Papa did, and Sydney tidying up a bit before coming to visit…it gave us so many feels.  And I want to capture all those imagined scenes eventually.


32-'Carton, Carton, dear Carton!'

“Oh, Carton, Carton, dear Carton!” cried little Lucie, springing up and throwing her arms passionately round him, in a burst of grief.  “Now that you have come, I think you will do something to help mamma, something to save papa!”

~ Book 3, Chapter 11

While reading that scene, I pictured it so vividly that I had to draw it.  (And meant to draw a background but got lazy and didn’t.)  It’s heartbreaking and precious; little Lucie is certain that because Carton is here, everything will be fine.  She trusts him completely.  And her trust is founded well.  *melts in a sobbing puddle*

It pays to read the book carefully before illustrating a scene.  Dickens mentions little Lucie is six years old in one chunk of narrative; but then slips in a little “three years later” remark before Charles sets out for France.  And since Charles was in prison for 1—2 years, little Lucie would be about 9 when her father left for France, and about 10 or 11 when he was arrested for the last time.

Hopefully, next week I’ll have new artwork to post!