Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Attaching to Characters

I hit a slow point on the rewrites yesterday that was ultimately resolved by realizing that the problem was in the previous scene. Plus, I had to get into the head of a non-viewpoint character who was the one driving the action and figure out what that person would really be doing, even though the viewpoint character wouldn't know the reasoning. This writing stuff can really be work sometimes. You have to think. The first instinct of what's going on may be wrong.

I think I may have given up on Alphas. This is the third episode, and for two of the three, I've found myself zoning out so completely that I missed major plot developments when they happened. It does make good background noise for other work, and there's nothing on opposite it, but if I don't have anything to work on, it may fall by the wayside. When I look at the series I really enjoy, I've always fallen in love with a character (romantically or otherwise) by the end of the first episode, and that can hold my attention until I get caught up in the story. If I haven't attached to a character, then I'm not going to get into the plot, and I don't seem to be attaching to any of these characters.

So, note to self: Make sure to create at least one character readers are likely to attach to early in a book. The trick is, that's different for each reader, and I can't even come up with a specific list of what works for me. It just seems to happen, an "I'll know it when I see it" thing. Generally, it helps if there's something about the character that intrigues me, some question about the character or something that doesn't quite fit that I want to know more about, maybe some element that I think will make for interesting stories. And it has to be a character I like enough to want these answers. But what I like in a character isn't exactly normal, since I tend to go for the nice guy, the "best friend" type, and these days, the dark and dangerous bad boy is what's popular. Adding a heart of gold or secret pain to a bad boy isn't enough to intrigue me. The fact that I don't like this doesn't mean others won't. I just have to write what works for me and hope there will be others who like it, too. We may just be the minority, though I don't know if we're the minority in general or if it's just that we're underrepresented among people making decisions in the entertainment industry (including publishing). Maybe we should start a club, the League of Nice Guy Lovers.

I am encouraged by the number of best friend-type heroes/Beta men on TV today, or maybe that's just the shows that I'm watching and it's a self-selected trend. But at least they're there at all, and that wasn't always the case.

So, what is it that will make you attach to a character enough to want to read a book or follow a series?

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