Unrealistic portrayals #FabulousFriday @AuthorMoira

Happy Friday everyone, and a happy Easter weekend to everyone. It’s time to get our chocolate on, lol! I’m heading out of town, and with fingers crossed that the weather holds out. While not unusual in Canada, no one wants snow to ruin their Easter fun.

For today’s post I want to discuss the “too perfect” characters some authors expect us to buy into. Now, to be clear, I’m talking about human characters mainly but also paranormal. Aliens are outside my realm of writing, so they are exempt from today’s roasting. Everything else is fair game, so here we go.

We humans as a species are imperfect – fact. We all have flaws whether we admit to them or not – fact. We all have at least one thing, often more than one thing, that we absolutely hate about ourselves – fact. Absolutely no human being on earth is perfect – fact. I’m sorry if this has caused anyone some upset, but it happens to be the truth. Anyone that says otherwise is a bold faced liar.

So why the fuck do authors continue to make characters flawless in every way?

Let’s be clear, I don’t mean in appearance because this is not the point of today’s post. Appearance is only the books cover. Do we occasionally get snagged first by the hottie on the cover? Sure, and there’s nothing wrong with that or admitting to it. But if that’s ALL we’re looking at then it’s a pretty shallow interpretation. We have to get to know the heart of an individual to truly understand them. Looks may be our instinctive first impression, but it should never, ever be the last. We as human beings are run by chemical and electrical impulses, but it’s the story behind the cover that gives us the context we need. And now that I’ve mixed metaphors, and realities around, let me get back on track a bit here.

Every character needs at least one flaw. Not merely hair that’s unruly or a crooked tooth giving a smile some character, although it does help, but some quirk or trait or situation that makes them more human. Yes, not every character is human, fully or otherwise. But for the readers very human brain to better relate they have to see in each character something that makes them flawed or different or unique. Maybe your character was injured, and everyday is a struggle. Maybe s/he never learned to read until s/he was an adult and still struggles from time to time. You get the idea.

Too perfect characters are the ones with every hair in place, or that just styled look that we all (at least once) wish we had going for us at some point. They have the job, the car, own their house/condo before they’re fifty, dream job, amazing high powered friends, etc. They are the unicorn among the cattle. Look too long or hard and you’ll pretty much go blind. They can do no wrong. And, let’s be honest here, they are as boring as fuck! No one, I repeat, NO ONE is perfect.

Yes, romance is fiction. Yes, there is a fantasy element to romance works. Yes, we all have had dreams about “that” guy being ours. But the sad, harsh reality is that “that” guy is either the biggest dick on the planet, would have you bored to tears before your first drinks arrived, or even worse still, he bats for the other team. Talk about depressing, right?

People screw up, sometimes in little ways and sometimes to epic extremes. This is a fact. This is a reality. And when a character (male or female) screws up and has to dig themselves from the hole they just dug. They’re driving a beater that’s being held together by duct tape and a prayer. They’ve had some unexpected expense crop up that has them sweating making rent, the car payment, or the bill payments. They got a cold they just can’t seem to shake. They have hay fever, or allergies, or something else that seems super mundane but is necessary. We’ve been there, lived through it, or known someone that’s been there, we can all relate to them.

So, authors one and all, remember the seemingly little things. The details that turn your perfect smiling, classical beauty, sex goddess into someone a little less other worldly, and let’s your readers feel closer to them. It doesn’t have to be much, but even a little something makes a huge difference. Keep it real as it were.

Characters #SatisfactionSaturday @KaceyHammell

saturday

Good morning all! Hope you’ve had a great week. Chilly here today. The cold temps have returned to Ontario, and I’m extremely bummed about it. We got a touch of spring and Mother Nature has taken it away again.

As always, every blog post is from my pov and my take on how things work/don’t work in my writing/my career. This week, I want to talk about characters. I’ve always been a believer, since I read my first Nora Roberts way back, that the characters are what drive stories. The characters are the heart and soul of the story and good writing, not the plots. It’s Roarke & Eve from JD Robb’s “In Death” series that keep me coming back. Harry, Hagrid, Hermoine & Ron kept me coming back to the Harry Potter saga. And even movies … It is Dominic Toretto & Brian Connor that have kept me returning to the Fast & Furious franchise. As well as John McClane that has me watching Die Hard twice a year.

Whenever I start to get ready to write a story, it isn’t the outline I spend more time on, it’s the character spreadsheet. I need to know what drives the H/H. Their occupation, their childhood problems that have followed into adulthood, where they met their BFFs, what were some hobbies. Plus what their parents were like, what kind of music and movies they like and what they collect as a hobby. Some of the answers to these questions may never make it into every story, but it gives me a much better sense of who I am writing. I want to know everything about them that I possibly can, as well as what brings those secondary characters into their stories. For me, the more I know, the more I have to build on.

In knowing the above, it gives me a better understanding as to what the angst/trouble/struggle is for the characters. And sometimes it’s the minute details that can become a barrier for me as I write, possibly hitting a roadblock, and the only way I can get through it is to know things about my characters – mainly to become a better writer IMO – which readers may never see. Every story has hurdles for the characters; it is never smooth sailing, so the journey, and overcoming those feats make for some great writing. I also learn what the characters determination/motivation is and where it comes from. Having the insight to what each character needs and wants, and the way that s/he will go about obtaining everything is something I need to know from the beginning. Things will shift and change a bit as I write but it gives me a starting point. It also gives me a direction to go with the characters, their arc, and how it evolves from page to page. The heroine may start off as a quiet, button-up librarian or teacher at the beginning of the story, but the hope is that she evolve into a spitfire bombshell comfortable in her own skin by the end.

No information is too much for me. Everything that matters to my characters matters to me. They make the story, I just write their journey onto the screen/paper. Some authors are probably reading this thinking I’m off my rocker and saying to just sit and write, and that’s fine, but everyone’s process is different. I go where the characters lead me and their openness in the beginning makes it much easier to write the story, as well as understand their reasons and motives for whatever happens.

It makes for a better writing relationship as well.

 

Until next week,

Happy Writing.

Kacey (2)

It’s a Privilege… #TuesdayThoughts with Doris(@mamaD8)

Happy Tuesday, folks, Doris here. I must admit I didn’t have the foggiest idea what to write about today, mainly because my head is full of my current WIP’s characters dictating their story. We’re still not at the end… Another 10 K or so might do it, lol.

And then it hit me, as I was giggling out loud on the school run—of all places—as they told me another upcoming scene.

 

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It’s such  a privilege to be able to tell a story. To have these characters in your head telling you what to write. To have that prime time view into their developing relationship. To share the highs and the lows, to want to smack the hero upside the head for being a domineering Alpha who can’t see the end of his nose at times, and to fall in love with him at the same time as the heroine does. To delve into their back story and get to know these two or three (ménage anyone?) people.

Some writers know their characters inside out before they start writing a story. They have it all mapped out, and while they may deviate from the ending they envisaged, they pretty much stick to their outline.

I’m not one of those authors. I’m a  pantster through and through. I discover things about my characters as I write them. When you, the reader, gasp—well hopefully you’re not throwing your e-reader against the wall in disgust, eh 😉 —I’ll have been right there too while I was writing. I call them the Aha moments, those sudden insights into why a character acts like he/she does, and it all makes sense.

Aha Moment on Red Billboard.

The moments where I giggle to myself, or indeed shed a few tears or have to turn the fan on because it suddenly got too hot in the room.

Those moments make writing such fun, and why I keep writing.

We can all forget how much of a privilege it is to be able to not only draft these, stories, but to then have them accepted by a publisher, and to have readers fall in love with these characters you created.

Though, I’m not really sure I do create them. To me, they are very real, and I’m simply the author they chose to tell their story.

With that in mind, I best get back to my current couple.

That’s all from me today.

Do stay naughty, folks.

D xxx