Posts Tagged ‘characters’
I was enjoying a nice, quiet get-to-know-you lunch with my characters when Bethany dropped a bombshell.
Even in “Blind Date Bride,” I knew that Beth was different. She’s the one who tried to get Kari to get in touch with her inner tramp, and who told Kari, “Keep a man happy in bed and he’ll keep you happy out of it.”
Yes, my Bethany LOVES sex. She’s been around the block so many times the sidewalk was named after her. (It bothers her a little that she’s had more partners than Cody, even though he’s 3 years older, but it bothers her more that he’s more content to cuddle than burn up the bedsheets.)
While I was jotting notes about their appearances and history, Beth revealed something surprising. Scratch that: It went beyond surprising and landed smack-dab in the middle of astonishing land.
It turns out Bethany had her first sexual experience at 14 years old. Wait — that’s not the surprising part. At 16, her mom kicked her out of the house for trying to seduce her stepfather. (It didn’t happen … it was all in mom’s head, but it still left Bethany estranged from her mom and kid sister.) She moved in with her aunt to finish high school, then went off to college, where she met Kari (and spent a lot of time on her back, staring at frat house ceilings).
I have no idea what to do with that tidbit. Where does it fit into the story? Will she reconnect with mom? Will she finally realize that there’s more to a good relationship than great sex? (I think she has to … and in the realization, sex with Cody will go beyond great to soul-shattering.)
Anyway, nothing Cody has come out with is all that surprising. It’s not that I find him boring … in fact, he’s shaping up to be one of my favorite heroes (right behind Mike James and Damien). But so far, he’s pretty tame. There is something in his past, alluded to in Kari and Damien’s story, but so far, he’s mum about what it is.
A counselor for at-risk teens, he’s working long hours (which concerns Beth because he’s sometimes — often — too tired to get busy) in part to save up for an engagement ring. He believes actions speak louder than words (and thinks spending the day shopping tells Beth he loves her). Above all, he likes being comfortable, which is why he’s often content to cuddle. Even in high school, he wasn’t one of those guys who was always trying to get some.
I probably need to get to the bottom of that before I get too far into the story.
Right now, I’m in Chapter 3. And, to borrow a catchphrase from McDonald’s, I’m lovin’ it … surprises and all.
Bethany and Cody are chattering away in my head and I’m getting more and more antsy to start telling their story. Today, I spent an hour or so sketching out a basic plot.
Since I’m not much of a plotter, that’s already more plotting than I usually do for a book. I’m thinking it might be time to sit down and write.
Of course, if I do more pre-planning, it’ll make the actual writing easier, right? I keep hoping that’s the case. Usually, I just have a vague idea that something has to blow up in my characters’ faces … this time, I already have a great Black Moment in mind.
It’s been a busy weekend: I’m also doing some research on agents, in preparation to send out queries on “Blind Date Bride.” I’m excited about that story — and I believe in it.
A new heroine and hero have been talking to me lately, and I think their story has to be told.
They’re Bethany and Cody, the best friends of my hero/heroine in “Blind Date Bride” … the ones who enter poor Kari and Damien into the contest they think will ruin their lives. As secondary characters, they’re dating throughout “Blind Date Bride.”
I don’t know a whole lot about them yet. Laid-back, surfer-type Cody works with at-risk teens and is a recreational pilot. Bethany is a flighty, artistic wild-child that Kari has been trying to get to settle down for years. (I think the fact that she’s had more sex partners than he has will be a sore point between them.)
In preparation to start their story, I’m reviewing the element of storytelling that always gives me fits: Conflict.
In my defense, I’m a Libra. We Libras like balance in all things … the struggles throw me. Of course, we can’t have our characters happily bopping from date to date for 300 pages. Even I would get bored with that! 😉
Since I struggle with conflict, I read a lot about it. One tip I read while taking my online synopsis-writing class back in March really helped me put it in perspective:
It’s only conflict if it creates an internal or external war for your character. … Without the push/pull it’s just a situation. Maybe an uncomfortable situation — a situation the character would like to change — but still just situation.
— Sherry Lewis, “The Selling Synopsis,” Lesson 3: Layering Conflicts
When I read that, I realized that I’m the queen of putting my characters in uncomfortable situations (Bree running into Mike at the strip club — while he’s onstage … Dustin sneezing on Cassie on the dance floor …) But these things don’t really create an internal war for anyone.
Well, maybe Bree, the virgin, is a little put off by it. But does it set off a war? Probably not.
Other definitions of conflict, from Debra Dixon’s “GMC: Goal, Motivation and Conflict:”
- Conflict is a struggle against someone or something in which the outcome is in doubt.
- Conflict is bad things happening to good people.
- Conflict is bad things happening to bad people.
- Conflict is friction, tension, opposition.
I guess some of the things I’ve come up with could be “bad things happening to good people.”
Anyway, I’m going to try to come up with some strong conflicts for Bethany and Cody before I even start writing. Usually, I tend to be more of a “pantster,” but maybe I’ll write faster if I plot a little beforehand.
After reading my last blog entry, one of my friends from college messaged me with this bit of inspiration about giving characters reasons to love one another:
Love isn’t only about the hot sex – it’s about friendship. Cuz when the hot sex goes away (old age, car accident, ED), there must still be something there between them.”
Thanks to the part about ED, it cracked me up … but it also rang true.
I think, for the most part, my characters ARE friends first (well, except for Cassie and Dustin. They hate — and annoy — each other at first sight … and even when they’re totally in love, they still want to kill each other).
Brad and Erin start (before my book begins) as reporter-source; Bree and Mike are friends/coworkers (even though she’s supremely hot for his supremely HOT bod).
As for Kari and Damien, they start out as strangers who are trying to become friends (and lovers) despite the fact that they find themselves hitched.
I’m looking forward to my NARWA meeting Saturday (really later today, I guess — I really need to get some sleep). We’re doing synopsis-writing and characterization. The timing couldn’t be better, since I’m at a point where I’m thinking about the synopsis for “Blind Date Bride.”