Friday, April 26, 2013

Character Question: What is Love?

Yeah, I know that's a weird title. Allow me to explain.

Last night, I was watching Lark Rise to Candleford (a really great period drama TV show that any Austen/Gaskell fans should check out) and the conflict for one of the characters was the question above. What is love? She was kinda freaking out about it. Anyway, when she asked that question the first time, one of my characters answered her in my head. "Love is giving your life for someone else's." Now, this doesn't fit the Lark Rise episode in any way, shape, or form, but I was intrigued. Viola, my character, answered what love is to her. So, I decided to see what some of my other characters had to say.

Marius: Love is accepting/loving someone despite their past.
Bev: Love is being accepted for who you are.
Joy: .... Is this a trick question?
Silla: Love is being accepted, even when you're not what was wanted.
Gwen: Love is working hard for the good of others.
Chad: See Shakespeare's sonnet 116. I painted it on the side of the abandoned crematorium.
Farold: Love is protecting your loved ones from the past.
Henley Sayer: Love is avenging your family.
Lizzie: Ooh, I should ask my characters that.... 

I'm not sure some of these even make sense, but I thought it was interesting to see how differently the characters reacted. And thank heaven they reacted differently, or I would have some serious character development to do for everybody.

As you may or may not be able to see, some of these characters have insecurities that affect their view of this subject (Marius, Bev, Silla...).  Hopefully, that makes them more like chocolate lava cakes and less like cardboard.

If you're a writer (and I assume most of my few readers are), how did your characters react to this question? And I'd love to hear input from all the non-writers too.

A good evening/morning/day/whatever to you.

Sunday, April 21, 2013

Characters in Costume - Vorsilla Silverbeetle

Gillian from Of Battles, Dragons, and Swords of Adamant hosts a Characters in Costume blog event every month, in which you dress up as one of your characters, and I thought I'd participate this time (though I'm actually two days late in posting this, which is kinda ironic since Gillian did a post on Go Teen Writers last week called "Procrastination Doesn't Pay.") This month's theme is villains.

So, allow me to introduce you to a minor antagonist from my work-in-progress Noxumbra Manor: Vorsilla Silverbeetle.

I look nothing like Silla, and that setting is all wrong (I wanted to go to the local cemetery and take pictures there, but I ran out of time), but I think she would wear that dress.

Silla doesn't play that much of a part in the current draft of Noxumbra Manor (something I intend to change), but when I worked on figuring out who she was, I grew to really like her, and I've decided to make her the protagonist of the sequel, which has no title or plot yet.

Her mother died in childbirth, and her father had wanted a boy, an heir to his estate. As a result, Silla grew up in the shadow of male cousins and other relatives, watching them get praised, while her accomplishments were ignored. This left her as bitter and frosty as a winter's wind.

Then I went and broke her heart. And she was set on revenge. Thus began her role as an antagonist.

If you want to see what Silla looks like in my head, click here for a nearly perfect likeness I found on Pinterest. And you can find my Noxumbra Manor Pinterest board here.

And in case you were wondering, I've Seen Hell from the North & South soundtrack is her theme song.

Be sure to check out the other Characters in Costume participants! There's a list here on Gillian's blog.

And a good night/day/morning/evening/whatever to you. 

Monday, April 8, 2013

Of Character Correctness

One of the things I did wrong in my first novel was that Lizzie, my MC, was always right. She found the true meaning of every clue right away. This does not make for a good story. It makes for an okay story, but it would have been better (and will be, when I pull that manuscript from the dungeon again) if she'd misinterpreted a clue or two, or only realized half of what it meant.

Why? you ask? Because my friends, that makes for plot twists of awesome.

Think about it. You're reading along, what the MC says makes sense, and then KABLOOIE, the condemning footprint couldn't have belonged to the postman, or the dead guys isn't really dead, or that chandlery isn't just a cover for a bad guy on the run - it's a smuggling ring too, or the man who everyone thought was the father of the illegitimate son is actually covering for the real father, or the MC has two potential villains to follow, and she picks the wrong one.

Or, you're reading along, what the MC makes sense, and what do you know? She's right. She's so clever. She followed the right guy, and fit every clue together perfectly, and thanks to her, the bad guys will rot in jail for eternity.

Which is more fun to read? The first.

Readers like being proved wrong (as long as the new explanation makes sense). Or they like figuring out the true meaning of the clues before the MC, and being proved right.  Either way, proving the MC wrong will throw him/her for a loop, and make the story that much more interesting.

As a side note, characters with secrets are an excellent way  to prove the MC wrong. Henry lied, and the MC believed him, or Agnes told the MC the truth, and he/she didn't believe her. The MC builds an idea around what s/he believes, and then POP goes that idea, and in the soap suds of its death, a new idea is born, and this one is one step closer to the truth.

What do you think? Feel free to debate and expound upon this idea. I'd love to hear your input.

And a good night/day/afternoon/morning/whatever to you.