Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Girly-man! Hear Me Now and Believe Me Later!

Yes, I loved Hans and Franz on Saturday Night Live. So funny, especially when The Arnold came on the show. Anyway, what I want to talk about is the growth of our characters.

As most of us know, each major player in our book must grow in some way before we can type THE END. We can show their growth several ways. Yes. You’re right. Another list from Carla. I’ve been a good girl for a while and it’s that time again.

1) By learning to love. That one is used more often for the male characters than for females. The character could be nursing a broken heart caused by a minor character or the other major player in the story. Maybe her childhood was horrible or someone in his life had a tragic accident and he refused to try to love again.

One of my favorite books, SARA’S CHILD by Linda Howard, has a hero whose wife and children died in a car accident. He struggles not to love his dead wife’s best friend. When they marry and she becomes pregnant, he refuses to acknowledge the child. I cried and cried the first time I read that book. Of course, it has the HEA. That’s why it’s a keeper.

2) By learning to trust. Another great one for romance. Often this is used with number one. The character’s betrayed by a mother, father, best friend, or past love. Money stolen, left for dead, or that broken heart.

I’m sure if I thought about it hard enough I could think of several books, but what comes to mind is Mel Gibson’s PAYBACK. Hard to believe, but it has a romance. Mel’s character, Porter, is betrayed by his wife and best friend, left for dead. I won’t say more, but I can promise you won’t be disappointed. I found on the internet a new re-cut verison is out. I’m not sure about that one. Just in case, get the original verison and check it out. Mel plays an anti-hero, so watch out, the story is violent.

3) By redemption. A character has realized the errors of his ways. Authors often use amnesia for this growth as they’re afraid the reader can’t believe a bad person can make a 180 degree change. I believe they can. Ask me about it sometime. Historicals like amnesia victims too. I see redemption used in paranormals a lot.

Sherrilyn Kenyon’s Dark Hunter books use redemption beautifully for her "Mad, Bad, and Immortal" heroes. Who doesn't love a man who has fences to mend and is willing to do it.

4) By plain ol’ learning. This is where the character seeks vengeance against another character. But maybe love (see number one) or the truth is revealed and changes the character’s direction, helping him grow.

I know I’ve read several books like this since Johanna Lindsey’s PRISONER OF MY DESIRE, but none come to mind. So Johanna’s heroine forces the hero to have sex with her (yep, forced a man) and later he takes revenge by forcing the same on her. Of course he makes her want it first. Oddly, in this one, what’s good for the goose, isn’t good for the gander.

Okay, now for the questions, what other character growth have you seen in books or movies? What are some of your favorite books or moveis that represent the ones above?

In closing, as Hans said, "Sorry, Mr. Girly-Man, but here's a treat for your girlfriend!"


Christy Reece said...

Wonderful blog, Carla!

Character growth is one of the reasons I love romance so much. In almost every romance I've read, there was character growth. Often times, if the author is able to show that growth so the reader identifies personally with the character, the reader may grow too.

My personal favorite is still Flowers From the Storm by Laura Kinsale. An amoral rake has a stroke, is debilitated and humbled, and in the process finds character and love. I'm sitting here now, with tears in my eyes, just thinking about it.

JoAnn said...

I agree with Christy, Carla! Great blog!

One of my favorite ways that characters grow is through personal sacrifice (maybe this ties in with "Plain ol' learning"); when a character gives up his/her goal because he/she has found love. One of Nora Roberts's Irish books -- Born in Shame -- is my favorite illustration of this. The hero can't imagine himself living anywhere else but on his farm in Ireland; the heroine can't imagine herself living anywhere else but NYC.

And, well, you know what happens. :-)