Thursday, April 12, 2012

K is for Knockout: What makes Katniss Everdeen a Knockout Character?


To be honest, I planned to base this post, "K is for Knockout" on a method in James Scott Bell's book called, Revision & Self-Editing. However, I've been referring to him so frequently in past posts that I recommend buying the book if you want a detailed breakdown of his revision method.

Instead, I'm going to continue from where I left off yesterday in terms of the 3 key character questions that dig deep into your character's psyche. I found these questions on the Storyfix blog, and I believe they can really help to transform your character(s) from one dimensional people into living and breathing beings.

The questions were:
  1. What is your core need (and what you will do if you can’t get that need met)?
  2. What is your greatest fear?
  3. What is the incident(s) that wounded you early in life that got you believing a lie? (And just what is that lie?)
In terms of the questions above, let's take Katniss Everdeen, the lead character in the bestselling series, The Hunger Games, as an example.

Therapist: Hello Katiss. Can you please tell me your core need in life?

Katniss: My core need is to ensure that those I love are always protected and safe. I will go as far as sacrificing myself to make sure this need is met.

Therapist: Hmmmm . . . interesting. So tell me a bit about your greatest fear.

Katniss: That I'll lose the ones I love, especially my sister, Prim. I also have horrible nightmares that if I ever had children they would die.

Therapist: Uh huh. Very deep. What is the incident in life that wounded you so much that it got you to believe in a lie, and what is that lie?

Katniss: The Hunger Games of course! Seeing innocent kids die. I don't believe in having children and I think it's dangerous to fall in love because children become a real possibility then.

Therapist: Fascinating. Well, our time is up for the day. We'll continue tomorrow.

Okay, so this is a really bad therapist. I can't even say his or her techniques are based on any psychological theories--definitely not Rogerian, and no trace of Cognitive Behavioural Therapy at all. In fact, Katniss should find herself another counselor because this guy is getting paid way too much  to say "fascinating."

All that aside, hopefully you can see that Katniss is a well thought out character. She's not just a surface character who is thrown into a fight to the death. She seems very real because she has fears, emotional needs and misguided beliefs. That's one of the reasons people buy books about her, or see a movie.

Until tomorrow.


  1. love this post! These are such great tips--though I don't think Katniss would willingly seek out a therapist:)
    Happy A-Zing!

  2. I agree. I don't think Katniss would be the therapist type, but, you know ...

  3. I like your careful analysis. I don't think that anything we learn ever goes to waste; it's all up there in that magical brain to use when we need the information.

  4. Great post and I'm a big James Scott Bell fan as well. New follower here. I’m enjoying reading my fellow “A to Z”ers. I look forward to visiting again.


  5. Awesome. We really need to know who our characters are if we want to write about them!

  6. Interesting. Not sure one has to dig this deep into characters in lighter books, although if it's a series, the MC definitely needs to remain consistent (or show growth). I'm trying to visit all the A-Z Challenge Blogs this month.