I hope you’re having a nice week. Unfortunately mine has been incredibly busy at the office as we are reaching the appraisals season and that means I hardly had any time for reading. I haven’t picked up a book in over a week, but I found some time to read the guest post from my visitor today, and I enjoyed it immensely! It reminded me of why I like guest posts so much. They are opportunities to discuss not only the books we love but also literature, and there is nothing I enjoy more than analysing and discussing literature 🙂
My guest is Audrey Ryan who has just released a Pride and Prejudice modernisation called All the Things I Know. You can read the blurb below, enjoy her guest post about flat vs round characters and participate in the giveaway!
Lizzie Venetidis is confident in her decisions. Moving to Seattle with her sister Jane after she graduated from Stanford, for instance, was a no-brainer. Adult life, however, turns out to be more difficult to navigate than she expected.
What career should she pursue with a bachelor’s degree in art history and no marketable experience amongst a tech-heavy job market? How responsible is it to drink that fourth cocktail while out with friends? And what should she do about Darcy—the aloof yet captivating guy she met her first night in town?
All the Things I Know is a one-mistake-at-a-time retelling of Pride & Prejudice, set against the backdrop of modern-day techie Seattle. Full of wry observations, heartache, and life lessons, All the Things I Know shares the original’s lessons of correcting ill-conceived first impressions and learning who you really are.
You can find All the Thinks I Know at:
Thank you for giving me the opportunity to do a guest post! I thought for this blog post, I would share my thoughts of “flat” vs. “round” characters and how they influenced both Pride & Prejudice and my own retelling.
So, what is a flat character? A flat character is one who doesn’t change through the course of the story. According to E.M. Forester in Aspects of the Novel, flat characters have had a lot of definitions through the ages,
Flat characters were called “humours” in the seventeenth century, and are sometimes called types, and sometimes caricatures. In their purest form, they are constructed round a single idea or quality: when there is more than one factor in them, we get the beginning of the curve towards the round.
In essence, a flat character is a personality made simple, even though such a thing doesn’t exist. We all know that each human being is complex—it’s part of human nature. A round character changes and grows throughout the course of a novel. As a reader, you learn the characters background and motivation which leads to finding empathy for them. I myself adore the round character because I believe all people are “round”.
Jane Austen is one of the few authors who uses flat characters expertly to show just what she wants about what the character represents. Their flatness is a device for the narrator to illustrate a value. For instance, Mrs. Bennet and Mr. Collins are not meant to represent a person, per se, but a point of view or value in society. Because the flatness is portrayed by a seemingly omniscient source, it is more likely to be interpreted fact by the reader. Yet these aren’t truisms, but commentary in a “novel of manners”. Our narrator is taking societal norms and poking fun at them through this device. The way this device is manipulated is what works for Austen’s use of flat characters.
All the Things I Know, in contrast to Pride & Prejudice, is not told from a witty omniscient narrator’s point of view. By filtering thoughts and observations through Lizzie’s first-person point of view, we as readers understand that it’s her perspective that prevents her from perceiving a character as “round”. In fact, part of Lizzie’s journey is learning how to see people beyond their stereotype. This means she needs to find the roundness in a person’s character. The recognition of this roundness is part of her maturation.
As I mentioned before, I adore round characters and there are very few authors (Austen aside, because she’s the master) who I think can pull off a flat character. I often find them annoying and can’t wait to get past their scenes. I like to understand people, especially when jumping into a fictional world. Did I keep some characters flat when I wrote All the Things I Know? To a degree, yes. Colin (Mr. Collins) and Geoff (Wickham) don’t change over the course of the book. However, we as readers understand that since we learn about them through Lizzie’s perspective, there’s probably more to the characters then she can see. To Lizzie, these two characters don’t do anything to redeem themselves and act at all in anything other than their best interests. They are flat to her.
In contrast, Barbie (Mrs. Bennet) and Lydia are given a much rounder treatment in All the Things I Know. There may not be a lot of change in their character development, but their background is fleshed out and their motivations are much more understandable. In some ways, we don’t blame them for the behavior we wish they’d change. This was done on purpose because these two characters are much more important to Lizzie’s internal life. Her development as a person is influenced by these two personalities, so these two characters ought to feel more real.
What do you think of flat characters? Who have you seen write them well?
Audrey Ryan is the nom de plume of Andrea Pangilinan: daydreamer, wife and step-mother, and obsessive story consumer. She studied writing in college, dreamt about becoming a novelist and slowly forgot about it when real life took over. With a particular affection for contemporary retellings, adapting Pride & Prejudice to modern day has always been a dream.
When she’s not reading and writing, Andrea is a marketing slave to the internet industry. She enjoys talking crazy to her weirdo cat, consuming copious amount of wine and coffee with her girlfriends, and record shopping with her husband. Oh yeah, and there’s that small Jane Austen obsession. That doesn’t take up any time at all.
Audrey’s Goodreads is just as a reader, but it’s here: https://www.goodreads.com/user/show/3797528-audrey-ryan-andrea-pangilinan
12- 3 Austenesque Reviews; Author Interview, Giveaway
12- 4 My Jane Austen Book Club; Guest Post, Excerpt, Giveaway
12- 5 Babblings of a Bookworm; Character Interview, Giveaway
12- 6 From Pemberley to Milton; Guest Post, Giveaway
12- 7 Night Owl Reader; Review, Excerpt
12- 8 Just Jane 1813; Review, Giveaway
12- 9 My Love for Jane Austen; Vignette, Giveaway
12-10 Darcyholic Diversions; Author Interview, Giveaway
12-11 Of Pens and Pages; Review, Excerpt, Giveaway
12-12 Margie’s Must Reads; Review, Excerpt, Giveaway
12-14 My Vices and Weaknesses; Character Interview, Giveaway
12-15 Diary of an Eccentric; Guest Post, Excerpt, Giveaway
12-16 More Agreeably Engaged; Vignette, Giveaway
Meryton Press is offering 8 e-book copies of All The Things I know to readers following the Blog Tour. To participate in the giveaway leave a comment on this post and click here.
Good Luck everyone!