Monday, September 22, 2008

Progress and possibilities

First things first. I edited Earth Goddess this weekend. *grins* YAY!
I also wrote 6000 or thereabouts on WATS. That's puts me a little over half way. Love that.

But I have other things on my mind today. Mostly characters.
What makes a good character? How do characters fit together? What happens when you have an obnoxious ass of a character and then you must redeem him/her? What happens when a secondary character fairly screams for a book of his/her own?

Let's start with this basic fundamental idea: A good character is a REAL character. Not someone who is completely good or bad. Not some stupid caricature of what you think a character should be. The character must be as real to you as your own friends. Because, in fact, he or she certainly is or will soon be extremely important to you.
You two must talk one-on-one. You must cut through the bullshit with a blowtorch and find what makes that character tick. You and your character may hate the process. Too damn bad. Do it anyway. Be the therapist. Listen to what the characters says. Even the unspoken.
How do you picture the character? Freeze that image in your mind. What do you notice? What stands out to you? Take that. All of it. And remember it.

Throw two characters in a scene together and let the good times roll. Or the furniture fly. Either way. It's been said by many that if your hero is a fireman, let your heroine be an arsonist or varying variations on that. I say pft. And you can quote me.
That may make for some interesting conversations. And probably some dynamic external conflict, but let's face it. Is that all ya got?
Characters come in every flavor under the sun. You can have the Alpha. Which, holy shit, the Alpha Hero is HAWT. *fanning self* But he can also come off as an asshole. The Alpha Heroine is bold. That can translate into "bitch" fairly easy. Then you have the Betta Hero. He's the "get along-go along" type guy. Laid back and all that.
And I've read that there is a Gamma Hero which nicely combines the two.
This ties into my whole black/white theory. PEOPLE are complex!!! Alpha men do not drag their collective knuckles on the ground and gnaw on a turkey leg. Okay. Some might. But you know what I mean.
A man and a woman thrown together in any given situation will have his/her own opinions, actions, and feelings. The fun part is watching it unfold.
Two Alphas would be like watching Maddy Hayes and David Addison (God, I loved Moonlighting. Remember the spin-off from Taming of the Shrew?) right before they (finally) got horizontal. She slapped him. He slapped her. Then they got to rolling around on the ground. And it was hot. Because there was so much verbal foreplay and tension built up between the two of them.
Throw your two main characters into a lovely locked room in your head. I know you have a couple empty rooms open. All writers do. Then watch from the two-way mirror. What happens? Does she scuff her toe while he paces? Or do they work together to figure out what's going on? WATCH THEM. Take it all in. And then use that. If they don't fit, then let them go. Or sequester them in a different place until you can find his/her better half. Don't force a coupling simply because you think they would be "perfect."
That's exactly my point.
Perfect doesn't exist.
Not here. And it shouldn't exist there, either.
Next blog: Asshole Characters. Kill them or redeem them?


Rene said...

My heroines have to do a 180 in the life department. Since I write in first person my hero doesn't get quite the same amount of attention. In the story I'm working right now the hero and heroine don't like each other but they are starting to fall in love despite their issues. Unfortunately for them, its not a romance so things aren't going to work out so well.

Tempest Knight said...

Great article, Crys! *g* My problem is with heroines who are total bitches. I swear, my heroes are fine, but when it comes to my heroines, they're bossy, tough, and can't kick the heroes' asses all the way to kingdom come. Ugh!