One for the good guys

July 31, 2010 at 5:27 am (Character, Thoughts on Writing) (, , , , , , , , , , , )

I love watching old movies. The good guys all wear white or at least tan and other pale colours and manage to keep their hair in perfect formation (maybe one strand will blow across their face) and they save the day with minimal loss and pain. Perfect feel good moment. I hate reading stories like this though.

Maybe it is because I look for different things from the movies I watch to the books I read. Movies can have a terrible story, bad acting, awful effects, it doesn’t matter as long as I’m being entertained. Yes, I prefer movies that actually have a story and good actors, the effects can go either way, but entertainment is all that is required. From books, I expect far more. I expect an intelligent and intriguing story and characters with depth that draw me in. I expect that the good guy won’t just be good because he’s (she’s) written that way but that they are actually given some sort of purpose and motivation.

My favourite protagonists when I read, have flaws. Massive and horrible character flaws usually. While I love reading David Eddings stories (the Elenium Trilogy is amazing) there is only one David Eddings character that ever made my list of favourite characters and that was Althalus. All of his other heroes are good because they are good and work together because it is the right thing to do. Althalus on the other hand was a thief and was coerced by a goddess disguised as a cat into saving the world. That appealed to me on a number of levels.

People in real life are never all good or all bad. And they aren’t the same in every situation and around different groups of people. I think characters in stories should reflect that to an extent.

That said, just going entirely the opposite direction and having an anti-hero can feel a bit old as well.

Who is your favourite good guy and why?



  1. Agatha82 said,

    Ah, one of my fave “good” guys is Joe Creed, from James Herbert’s Creed. He is a sleazy paparazzi photographer and not the most likeable character at first, but Herbert writes about him in such a way that you really change your mind about him and whilst he never really turns into a perfect man towards the end of the novel, you are rooting for him and that’s to me, the key to a good character. They haven’t got to be a perfect goody two shoes to be likeable.

    Oh and I agree with your point about films, I can watch rubbish like Alien vs Predator and be entertained but a book like that would not really be worth reading.

  2. Brown Eyed Mystic said,

    We share the same view about movies and books.
    I am okay with watching a “creatively-abused” movie as long as it somehow entertains me–and that is not difficult given that a movie has many aspects: background music, the way the actor drives his car or the girl’s red coloured stockings–could be anything. But for a book to keep me entertained, it takes much more, and that is why I believe writing a book is a much difficult task since it has to conjure up all those images.

    Thanks for the good share!


  3. Alex Willging said,

    I like what you said about movies that entertain even if they’re aren’t well-produced. But I think more’s required from a novel because you have to actively follow the story, rather than a movie which tells a story by itself.

    I have to say that my favorite good guy is Obi-Wan Kenobi. He’s an unabashed Good Guy who just follows the flow of things and acts whenever action is required. He admittedly is a bit stern and traditionalist in his younger days, but he grows into a more unpredictable and uncanny master (and consequently, a much funnier person). Probably my favorite rendition of him is in Matt Stover’s novelization of Star Wars: Revenge of the Sith. From beginning to end, he is nothing if not the paragon of Jedi Knighthood.

  4. Cruella Collett said,

    I agree – I expect much more from books than movies. The other nigth I saw an old James Bond movie, and while I loved it as a movie, it really struck me how terribly unlikely the whole thing would have been as a book.

    As for favourite good guys? Not sure. I tend to like those that aren’t entirely “good”, such as Jack Sparrow…

  5. Cassandra Jade said,

    Seems we all seem to agree that we like our good characters to have a little bit more edge, and our books have to work harder to keep us interested.

  6. Carol Ann Hoel said,

    I can’t think of a favorite good guy in fiction, books or movies. The Bible has some very admirable characters, and of course, they all have their flaws, mentioned in scripture or not. We are all flawed. I think Joseph and Daniel are two of my favorites. Jesus is the only one not flawed, and he is my hero.

  7. Mason Canyon said,

    I agree with you. The good guy/gal has to have a few flaws. No one is perfect and I don’t want my hero or heroine to be that way. They don’t seem real and we want them to be as real as possible.

    Thoughts in Progress

  8. catwoods said,

    I like imperfect MC’s too. My faves are as follows:

    The mouse in The Gruffalo. He’s devious, yet smart; motivated and humorous. All in a quick picture book.

    I also adore Katniss Everdeen in the Hunger Games and Fire in Kristine Cashore’s Fire.

    Angel in Redeeming Love is also amazing, complicated and very human.

  9. Jemi Fraser said,

    I like the imperfect mcs as well – nothing more boring than reading about the perfect human. I learn to dislike them pretty quickly. 🙂

  10. amkuska said,

    Cimorine from Dealing with Dragons. After all, she rejects the prince who rescued her in favor with being a dragon’s princess. ^^

  11. AlexJ said,

    As long as I am entertained, I can enjoy a so-so movie as well.
    I don’t like anti-heroes, either.
    As for movies, Tony Stark as Ironman is a great hero, because he’s so narcissistic and yet likeable and charismatic at the same time. In books it would be Lincoln and Child’s detective Pendergast.

  12. Hart said,

    It’s funny actually– since I started trying to publish, I am reading AND watching movies differently, and I look for the PIECES on movies… where they fall down and where they succeed. I think my overall assessment is I am more generous in seeing ‘what they were trying to do’ than I used to be–where in books it is a much more honest ‘works/doesn’t’ analysis. I should point out about half the movies I see are chosen by my 11 year old and while I have VETO power, I am not the driving force, so some of them are pretty darned bad–all they need is decent cover copy…

    • Cassandra Jade said,

      I find a lot of kids movies really well done – mostly because they know that their audience can be hyper critical and also have a very short attention span. That said, the story lines aren’t exactly complex, but that sometimes works in their favour because they don’t trip over themselves with twists that don’t work.

  13. Glynis Smy said,

    A good storyline with believable characters is my type of movie and book. I enjoy a slight flaw in my ‘good guys’, it makes them believable.

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