More specifically, I like to be able to engage very quickly and very powerfully if my opponent makes a mistake. In the meantime, I like methodically advancing my position and dealing good, safe damage with my normals. Good focus/throw/slide is a plus, I abuse those. I'm definitely pretty bad at this point, but I want to pick a character whose playstyle I won't hate as my skills grow.
I have a few characters I'm leaning towards, but I'm looking for confirmation so I won't mention them until after I get a good round of responses.
EDIT: I ended up choosing Guy. He's versatile offensively with a strong mix-up game and the ability to engage quickly, forcing conflict.