Childish Nonsense

Exploring Children's Literature

To Kill a Tribble

on June 2, 2013

Maintaining a blog, especially with relevant posts, is often a challenge. It’s not like I have nothing to say, but there is always a question of whether anyone will care. I often crack people up with my off-hand remarks, but they’re so often situational that I get no help for the written word.  I have strong political opinions, but I have yet to meet anyone who agrees with me on everything. It’s not my goal here to piss people off, though I would like to provide food for thought.

People who know me well know that I’m, at heart, a Trekkie. But am I? The conventional wisdom is that science fiction fans are drawn to plot-driven stories. I couldn’t care less about special effects or plot. Unless they directly affect my favorite characters. I can name episodes from TNG that still annoy me because of what the writers did with MY characters. Thinking about Spock and Dr. McCoy’s interactions in the original series still makes me smile. Although I’m enough of a purist that the new movies irritate the crap out of me – for so many reasons – I do appreciate the filmmakers’ attempts to be true at least to most of the characters from the original series. (Even though the new Spock is definitely losing control of his emotions.)

So, what makes a good character? (By the way, this is a question writers ask themselves pretty much daily.) Obviously, there must be some overriding character trait with which the reader or viewer can identify. I admire Dr. McCoy’s loyalty and passion, Scotty’s inventiveness, Spock’s self-confidence.  One of my favorite books of all-time is To Kill a Mockingbird. I can’t say enough nice things about Atticus or Boo.  Atticus commands respect, even from his enemies.  Boo is innocence personified.

Foibles are also important. It’s very hard to love a perfect being. Would we love Kirk as much if he never took unwise risks? (Seriously, I can do without the womanizing, though.) Even Atticus doesn’t know everything.

Although readers should be made to feel they know something no one else knows about their characters, there should always be hidden details. Without them, there would be no story and no surprise. Atticus’ hard-nosed honesty causes him to question the sheriff’s decision to fudge the facts surrounding Boo. Mercy and his children turn out to be more important to Atticus than honesty.

Beyond that, I do love a good space western. And a world in which Justice may not be perfect but she sure is blind.

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