Monday, August 16

The Darcy Factor

You might love the character of Mr. Darcy from Jane Austen's Pride and Prejudice...or you might not.

It's a shame if you don't understand the appeal of the character of Mr. Darcy, because then you cannot emulate it in a piece of fiction. Anyone who can is very clever.

'Or a copy cat!'

Not at all. If you can see an element in a story that works, and incorporate it into your own work so that the effect is the same, then it's not copying at all. It's understanding an effective element and being able to execute it.

'Yeah, but if I don't see the appeal, I wouldn't want to emulate it anyway.'

It's fine if you don't like the character of Mr. Darcy...but have you ever felt drawn to a fictional character? If you could figure out what the author did to make you feel that way, you might be able to emulate it under completely different circumstances in your own story.

That is "The Darcy Factor."

'Ohh, okay.'

In my opinion, this is why Stephanie Meyer hit the jackpot with her Twilight novels. You may have heard that Twilight was very loosely based on Pride and Prejudice. Why is this? I think it is because she utilised "The Darcy Factor." People can say what they want about the plot being rubbish or the characters being whiny, but Meyer knew how to build excitement in her readers toward Edward Cullen's character. Some might say the readers are just obsessive but I think it's a sign that the author is intelligent.

Of course, "The Darcy Factor" has nothing to do with characters that are like Fitzwilliam Darcy in any way. It is not even restricted to characters at all. If you can pin point an element of a novel that intrigues you or pulls you in and find the technicalities behind it, you can work it into your own story.

My favourite fictional character is Severus Snape from the Harry Potter books. The reason I love his character is because J.K. Rowling built intrigue around him in the Philosopher’s Stone, and that caught and held my interest. In the subsequent novels, every time he entered the story I knew there would be conflict. Something interesting would happen. Also, he has a sharp tongue and wonderful, sarcastic wit.

Another character I really like is Howl in Howl's Moving Castle by Diana Wynne Jones. In fact, I pretty much inhaled that book. It's looking at stories and characters that captivate you and figuring out why your attention is held that really allows you to understand how you can better your own writing.

A few key words: intrigue, excitement, obsession.

If you can instill these feelings in your readers - in that order - you've got them.

Maybe you don't like the character of Mr. Darcy, or maybe you do. If you don't, I'm not going to argue. I am sure you feel strongly about other characters and novels you've read. Figure out what hooked you, excited you, and left you wanting more. Then try and work that into your own fiction.

That is the magic of "The Darcy Factor."


Joycelyn said...

Ooo, interesting post. I've never actually put these thoughts into words, but now that I think about it, it's my relationship with the characters that give strength to the story, and help to drive it forward.

Of course, there are other elements too, but I think it's this relationship, whether positive or negative, that adds excitement to the story. I wouldn't read a story, no matter how good the plot, if the characters are boring and unreal.

When I write, what I focus on is not actually the telling of the story itself, but on manipulating the emotions of my readers. To me, that's what a mark of a good story is, when your readers are emotionally involved in some way.

SherBear said...

I seem to be unwillingly attracted to "the bad guy". In a movie or a play or definitely a book. I watched Howl's Moving Castle and I haven't read it yet, but I'm sure I will a fluttering of the heart whenever his character comes into play when I do.

Celesta said...

a very well thought out idea. I am a fan of Darcy and can totally understand what you mean for him and a hole slew of others amazing characters. Thanks for helping me think deeper behind the draw these characters have!