Ink People: Dorothy–my first true love

The angst has got to stop. What better way to stop self-obsessing than to turn the page to somebody else? So, let’s take Dorothy Gale on the farm in Kansas, fresh faced and about to go a witch-killing spree. Okay, maybe two doesn’t count as a spree, but she’s a killer nonetheless.

wizard of oz - dorothy

Why has Dorothy stuck with us after all these years? What makes a character memorable? A favorite? Someone we want to be on Halloween? Do we (and I’m roping you in here whether you like it or not–forgive me if you can) love her because of herself or because she gets to go to Oz, have adventures, and wear cool shoes? The adventure itself ought not be enough to make the book loved. Character alone doesn’t drive the love either. How did L. Frank Baum find the point where the plot met the character and a passionate reader was born?

I loved Dorothy because she was fearless, straightforward, and she got to kill the bad guy, all while never once falling and twisting her ankle just so a cute, personality-free guy could scoop her up and carry her away. Dorothy was an ordinary girl from an ordinary place and at the end no secret birthright was revealed. If she could get survive a twister, save her friends, take care of herself, and speak her mind without needing princess blood in her veins, then any of us could.

Who was the first fictional character you loved? And if you’re writing a novel, do you have a character who can compare?

7 thoughts on “Ink People: Dorothy–my first true love

  1. Tom Fox

    Who was the first fictional character I loved?

    I’ve loved and still do love many fictional characters, but the my first would have to be more of a ‘inspirational’ character, because a) it was a guy and b) he isn’t real unfortunately.

    The Alex Rider series is a childrens series which is based on a teenage kid being forced to join the MI6 because of his families close connections. I loved him as a character because that he was one of those Kids who didn’t want to become a spy, something that many readers including myself at the time were totally awed about. As the series flung on we saw that even though he hated going on missions, that in the end he always did it for the sake of restoring balance to the world, and when being forced into bad decisions, always making good ones instead. A strong willed person who has escaped so many things, it’s like a kid James Bond but cooler.

    Nice post by the way, I also enjoyed Dorothy but liked the Scarecrow much more as he had a sense of common surrounding him. Dorothy seemed a little ‘too’ nice for me.

    Thanks for the read,


  2. You don’t know about me without you have read a book called The Adventures of Tom Sawyer, but that ain’t no matter.

    It was a matter from me, because after listening to a teacher read that to assuage the pent-up energy of kids forced to take their recess inside on a rainy day, I was transformed from a mere listener to a wonderer. One of the things I asked the teacher was if the man who’d written that stood any chance of making a living from that sort of thing.

    You mean telling stories? the teacher asked.

    Yes, I said,

    Yes, the teacher said, but it is something that takes more effort than you might think, and even then, you might test you beyond your imagination.

    I didn’t care. That’s what Huck Finn did for me. I love Dorothy and use her as a teaching tool for discussing the novel. But Huck was destiny. It took me nearly twenty years, but I actually worked for the paper where Twain got his start.

    So yes, Huck Finn. Again and again.

  3. Tom, I’m not familiar with Alex Rider, but you make him sound cool, and so I’ll remember him for my son.

    Shelly Lowenkopf, I guess sometimes gender does influence these things because I had to go for a girl. But anyone who can fall in love with a character and have that character change their life–that’s gold.

  4. I think it might have been Anne Shirley (of Green Gables). She got into trouble for dreaming too much, and for losing her temper, but she made a good life for herself, surrounded by people she loved, and she never gave up what made her her.

    Also, reading this entry may have helped me put my finder on what annoyed me the most about the recent ‘updating’ of Oz, Tin Man–they made Dorothy the princess of Oz. Bah. Boooo-ring!

  5. Sarah

    Two stand out- Harriet, of Harriet the Spy and Harriet Vane, the Dorothy Sayers character in her mystery series- especially her struggles with career identity in Gaudy Night. No coincidence that these two females are writers 🙂
    Neither are represented in my novel- but they keep my company when I am feeling anxious.

  6. I don’t remember the first fictional character I loved. I have loved so many. You ask such good questions. I think I love Dorothy because she is ordinary, and she looks at the world and the fantasy world much like I would – or hope I would. Yes, she was everything I wanted to be when I was young, and she had a wonderful wizard of oz to boot.

    I think I love my main two characters in my current novel because 1) the fifteen year old is like me at that age but she learns what took me so much longer to learn and 2) the elderly woman is who I’d like to become.

  7. I love your website….My fingers were racing to find the next gem in your gold mine.

    I landed in Land of Oz as this is still one of my favorite all time fantasies!
    Although I have to admit my first love was with curious George as I am the queen of curiosity. My second was Little Lulu because she too went on big adventures (so it seemed!) And Babar and friends…I always peered through the bars of the Zoo looking for the cute lil’ elephant who wore those darling lil’ jackets?

    Dorothy & Toto, the Scarecrow, the Tin Man, the Lion and Glenda the Good Witch are all symbols of life. If you think about it Frank Baum was truly ahead of his time and a wise ole wizard is he! For it was he who pointed out through his cast of characters it’s human nature we are always dreaming about something “better on the other side of that fence” that keeps us within our boundaries, when so many times it’s right in our own back yard!
    We need to have heart in most everything we do! At every turn we need courage to go forward!
    We need our brains to think about our choices!
    There are so many timeless lessons about good versus evil woven into that story!

    Stephen gave me your card! Your website and artwork is inspiring!

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