Have you ever wondered why characters have complications pop up in their lives? Here’s the answer… well two anyway…pure and simple (at least for me) it’s because we the author is alive, and has to have a way to deal with crap in their own lives, and well if the character doesn’t have trials and tribulations to some degree, the reader isn’t invested quite as much.
HJ and I were sitting outside the other night by our fire pit sipping on a glass of wine, unwinding from the day (week) and talking about heavy adult decisions that one day I’ll have to make. And the conversation somehow got on to 50 Shades of Grey. Keep in mind please that I haven’t read it yet, and I’m not going to get into any sort of discussion about it or what people think the message it sends is. In HJ’s opinion it would have been a better story had the characters been more developed. (Again, I haven’t read it,) I have however read books where the storyline is good but the characters are just sort of blah.
I have a hard time investing time in a character I can’t relate to, don’t develop an interest in, or doesn’t have appeal.
What makes a character interesting? To me, they have to be real…believable. I once had a review in which the person’s opinion was that the story was unrealistic. I so totally want to defend myself then and well to be honest a part of me still wants to. First off it’s a work of fiction, we read fiction to take us away from everyday life…or at least out of OUR life for a few minutes. In my story one of the main character’s love interest had been raped, and the second a victim of attempted rape. Is it unrealistic…given the time period, (old west mid 1800’s) I don’t think so. Even now a days given the fact that 1 in 6 women have experienced rape or an attempted rape, I don’t think the storyline was unrealistic.
Part of making a character believable is giving them emotions, fear anger, rage, giving them something to cope with, to work through. How many of us has had to deal with the death of someone close, has had to go through a relationship ending. Or knowing someone we love, doesn’t love us back in the same way? At some point I’d have to say we all have, and those are feelings that we remember and can relate to. That’s part of building a character.
This last week, I’ve had to deal with an elderly aunt and uncle, and have had to face some hard things in life. Things I haven’t had to before, like…what happens to them when they can no longer stay in their home safely? Who takes care of them? (Idealy there would be children that stepped in and handled all of that. Like I will should that need arise with my parents. They have no children.) I have a rapport with them that my sisters don’t, I have an in if you will and they seem to listen to me…so far, (how the hell did that happen?)
My problem is … none of my characters have had to deal with any of this, right now all they have to deal with is finding a murderer, starting a new ranch in a new territory, and realize that sometimes love finds us when we least expect.
I need a character to tell me how to handle all of this, because at the moment I’m lost. Maybe I should throw all of this on a character and see how they handle it….yeah, maybe that’s what I’ll do. Surely they have better answers than I do….