Thursday, July 14, 2011

Great Characters Reflect Real Life Qualities

Great characters whether they are in a book, play, movie, or television program have one thing in common... real life qualities that people can admire. Qualities we wish we had, qualities we have and can relate to, qualities we wish more people around us had.

Take for instance the character Ralph (played by William Katt) in the 80's television series Greatest American Hero. At first glance Ralph seems a little comical in his long red underwear and cape, wobbling precariously as he attempts to fly. But upon closer reflection Ralph has some pretty amazing qualities.

To begin with, Ralph, who is a teacher by day and hero intermittently while wearing the red alien suite, truly cares about the students in his charge. He not only wants them to learn to read and write, he wants them to learn to respect each other, to dream, to look to the future. He also possesses the quality of being able to enjoy the little things in life like meeting his boyhood hero The Lone Ranger or dressing up like a clown complete with the little red nose. And despite the disruption both the suite and his partner Maxwell bring to his life, Ralph is always a loyal friend.

He has a propensity towards concern and compassion for others and goes out of his way to encourage his students, fellow teachers, and friends. All of these qualities...kindness, compassion, concern for others, joy of living, loyalty, etc... are qualities I hope people see in me. They are also qualities of which I would like to instill in my young daughter. I want her to grow to adulthood able to find the beauty and joy in everyday life. I want her to strive to make this world a better place simply by her ability to be kind, patient, loyal and so forth.

These are also the qualities that I strive to create in my Fern Valley characters. Although my characters are most definitely fictional, I hope that children love them and go away wishing to emulate them. I'm sure they will not say, "Hey I think I will imitate Betsy's work ethic or Kimmy's kindness." But if subconsciously they integrate these qualities into their life, then my characters will not only be entertaining, but valuable as well. Signing off for now with wishes for a bright and beautiful day!


  1. You're certainly right Aileen about liking characters that have qualities people admire. I'm always brought back to Atticus Finch. I always teach my students that he's "downright, upright".

    As for your Fern Valley characters, their traits are what helped me to want to integrate your stories in my classroom. If a few of my students can gain from the values in your stories...this upcoming school year will be well worth it!

  2. Thanks Lisa. Your words of praise are most kind. Wishing you much success in all your own writing endeavors!