What Can True Blood Teach Us about Crafting Characters

A writing post today and just my opinion, as well.

I do not pretend to be an expert on True Blood, the hit HBO Series based on the books by Charlaine Harris, but I have become a fan of the TV series. A romance with a vampire hero is not exactly my cup of tea, and I rarely read a paranormal (but I love that friends like Carolyn write them!), so why am I tuning in every week?

I think it has to do with the characters. I love complex characters, those who are not wholly good or wholly bad but a mixture of the two. They experience pain, make mistakes, have flaws, but also are courageous, heroic, loving, loyal. Almost every character in True Blood is complex (except maybe Sookie, the primary heroine, although she is brave, loyal, and interesting in her own right).

The male characters are especially compelling.

Bill, of course, has all kinds of dark secrets. He is a vampire, after all. What I find most compelling of him is his single-minded love of Sookie. Even though external events and their differences (one being human, the other vampire) drive them apart, he is always there for her when she needs him. If he cannot reach her, you see his pain for not being able to save her. The hero who is unwavering in his love for the heroine is one readers can love.

Sam seems to be the Beta hero of the series. He is the perennial good-guy, but also has the dark secret of being a shape-shifter. In season two he is battling the mysterious Maryann, with whom he has a “past.” As a hero, a Beta with secrets and private suffering is also a great addition to any story. We want him to find love, because he so clearly deserves a good woman to love.

Eric is the darkest, most Alpha of the True Blood heroes. A vampire leader, he is dark and dangerous and powerful, but he also leaves the impression (to me, at least) that he has a secret good side. It keeps us guessing on whether he will be proved good or bad in the end.

We know Bill will protect Sookie at all costs; we know Sam will behave with decency; we don’t know about Eric. In the right story any one of these heroes would make the reader fall in love with him.

One more thing I want to say about True Blood. Each episode ends with a strong hook, one that makes you want to tune in to the next episode. This is the way to end a chapter! Keep them turning the pages.

What do you think of the heroes and characters of True Blood? If you don’t watch the series, what do you think makes for complex characters. Who is your favorite complex character (in the series or not) and why?

(Note: Anna Paquin, who plays Sookie, and Stephen Moyer, who plays Bill, just got engaged in real life!) Photos by Creative Commons

I’m almost done with my second “soldiers” book! Stay tuned to my website for the latest news about my books.

About diane

Diane Gaston is the RITA award-winning author of Historical Romance for Harlequin Historical and Mills and Boon, with books that feature the darker side of the Regency. Formerly a mental health social worker, she is happiest now when deep in the psyches of soldiers, rakes and women who don’t always act like ladies.
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