Saturday, April 04, 2009

I Love Onion Soup

I'm currently reading a book I was given at a conference last year. The story has been okay, certainly different but not necessarily in a good way. The heroine bothers me. She's an inconsistent bitch. Sorry. No other way to put it.

When I write dialog and scenes, I'm constantly saying to myself, would this type of personality/person say or do this? It certainly helps with my plot and what my characters decide to do next. I've certainly learned not to force them to do or act a certain way just to get from point A to point B. Anytime I have, a little voice in the back of my head tells me something is wrong. And I've learned to listen to that nagging brat.

Plus I like to think though my characters may not have the most redeeming characteristics or conduct themselves in the best of light at the beginning, they're not mean or hateful, more like flawed. I can guarantee you'll see a good side to them before you've read the first third, if not quarter, of the book.

Then on the other hand, I rarely tolerate goody-two-shoes heroes or heroines in the books I read. You know the one who is always trying to do the right thing but others get in her or his way. Boring!

One of my favorite type of characters is the person who appears good and isn't or appears bad but isn't. Yeah. Those are the ones I love peeling back the layers and letting the reader see their growth, the true person underneath, even the bad guys.

12 comments:

Christine said...

Carla, I love the new design of the blog. Very nice. I agree with you about the characters. If I force mine to do something just to get the plot moving forward, it often means a revision later on. I think for me, as an unpublished author, it's very frustrating to read published pieced that make the mistakes you're talking about. But that only makes me more determined to get it right in my own work so people will want to read more than one book.

Diane Richmond said...

Carla, I'm right there with you on this one. The characters I love and remember are the ones that are more than one dimensional--just like we are in real life. My biggest challenge is trying to temper my unlikeable characters so that readers will not be so turned off by their behavior that they quit reading. Just like you, I love the layers. Give me more onions!

Louisa Cornell said...

I have to agree with you, Carla. I have always said that everyone you meet is something more than they appear and sometimes something less. The key is to make me interested enough in the character (good or bad) to WANT to peel back those layers and find out what makes them tick. If you can do that I will read to the last page without putting that book down. I am always fascinated by how people grow into who they were meant to be.

Karen Beeching said...

I love those characters who are pushed to test the boundaries between right and wrong (that big gray area). We know their intentions are good, but they don’t always say or do the right thing (and that can be a lot of fun)—just like the rest of us.

Inconsistent bitch. I love it.

M.V.Freeman said...

Carla,
You hit it right on the nose--the best stories and characters are the ones that have the layers. I want to find out about them...even the bad guys!

Of course, the badder the better for me...

Carla Swafford said...

Thanks, Christine. It was free. Click on the aqua color icon near the top left and see many more.

I'm always surprised what gets published compared to what the unpublished gets dinged on in contests. Then again, it confirms you don't have to be perfect to be published. :-D

Carla Swafford said...

Diane, that is so true. I know that often the bad guys in movies and books stand out more than the good guys. Maybe because we understand what makes good guys tick (morals, honorable codes, etc.) while we can't understand what makes the bad ones do what they do.

And those layers explain so much. Good or bad.

Carla Swafford said...

Louisa, right on the mark. I like seeing a self-center characer become aware of the people around him or her as love transform their life.

Carla Swafford said...

Oh, yeah, Karen, pushing those boundaries makes the story so much more interesting.

Inconsistencies bother the crap out of me. For example, one moment a character is acting all cool about an one night stand, claiming she understands and wants it that way. Then getting all bitchy when it's over. Be sad. Be regretful. Be blase. But don't get mad when he leaves in the morning. Geez.

Carla Swafford said...

Oh, yeah, Mary. I like them bad too.

Christine said...

It's good to be bad... kinda like where being naughty is sooooo nice.

hehehe

JoAnn said...

I have nothing to add, because everyone's covered it all. Just know that I nodded my head and said "Uh huh, uh huh" a lot when reading this post and the comments! :)