When I start reading a book, there are many factors that might prevent me from being able to immerse myself in the story. One of the biggest is unlikable characters. I imagine that’s the case with many readers, especially if you enjoy character driven books. We don’t want to cheer for a character that we just don’t like. Sometimes I don’t like characters because they’re boring, other times it’s because I don’t respect them. Whatever the reason, the fact remains that writing likable characters is essential for an author’s success.
What’s the first step to writing likable characters? You have to actually like them yourself. If you don’t love the characters you create, then how can you expect readers to love them? Continue reading
I spent the second half of last week in Bear Lake with five other writers. It was our second annual writing retreat. The point is to get away from our usual days of work, family and kids, and focus just on our craft.
Took this during one of only two times that I bothered enjoying the view.
If you’ve read my books, you know that I don’t follow the damsel-in-distress-is-saved-by-Prince-Charming model. Yes, I like a heroic man, but I don’t want my heroes’ merit to be based entirely on their status as a Prince. My heroines are the royal ones, and because you’re in their head, you get to see their flaws and insecurities. It’s more fun for me to write that way.
Another question from my FB page. Someone asked where I get inspiration for my heroes. So here’s my attempt to answer:
Firstly, none of my characters are based on real people. I have utilized little quirks from people I’ve known and incorporated them into some of my characters, but that’s the extend of it.
Short answer: Yes.
I’ve been surprised at how many people ask this question. I doubt it will come as a surprise that out of all of the sisters, Lorraina was my least favorite. But I couldn’t just keep her as the token brat throughout the books. It didn’t feel realistic. So when her storyline started to progress in Missing Lily, I appreciated the chance for her to grow. Yes, she was still selfish and overly critical, but I started to better understand the reasons behind it, and I was able to make some headway with her character development. However, by the end of Missing Lily, I still didn’t like her enough to want to write from her point of view. I couldn’t empathize with her enough.
I’ve read a lot of books. (Shocker.) And most of those books are romance because I love reading about those feelings—the discovery of attraction, then waiting on pins and needles to find out if the other person feels the same way. There is something so basically human about finding love. However, I think many authors get stuck on attraction and have a hard time moving on to meaningful relationships. When I’m reading a book, there is only
so much physical description that I can take. If the hero’s rock hard abs are the main focus, it’s tough for me to take it seriously. I tend to roll my eyes when the heroine’s berry red lips and tiny waist are expounded on. Physical description is fine. It’s good to know that the hero and heroine are attracted to one another. However, should that really be the characteristic that is focused on the most? Do we need to keep going back to the fact that she is the spitting image of Aphrodite and his physique is like the statue of David?
My objection isn’t just that it’s redundant, or that it flattens the characters into nothing but their physical attributes.
I went to see Into the Woods the day after Christmas. I love that musical to the moon and back, and I’m still just a little bitter that I wasn’t cast in it that one time in college. Granted I wasn’t actually enrolled at the time, but still!
Anyway. The hubby and I were driving home and he commented that Into the Woods was a perfect example of what I was talking about in my blog post about The Rest of the Story. Ain’t that the truth. The brilliance of that musical (in addition to the incredible music and lyrics) is that Act I tells the fairy tales so well. They are wrapped up in their neat happily ever afters, and then in the stage production, act II starts with “Once Upon a Time…Later,” and proceeds to tell the story of what happens AFTER the happily ever after. Because once you get what you wish, there will always be another wish to take its place.
There’s a flip side to the rest of the story. My last post was about how we often think the worst of people, only to discover they aren’t so terrible. However, we can also think the best of someone, only to be proven wrong.
In high school I had a major crush on a boy. I can’t even remember his name now, but I thought he was a hottie. My best friend was a social butterfly and when we ended up talking to him and his friend, I (not so casually) signaled to Emily that she should introduce me. Some weeks later, a group of us ended up going to six flags one evening for fright fest. That was the night my crush died a rather abrupt death. Not the boy, he was perfectly healthy, but any admiration I had felt for him died that night. Continue reading