Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Remember how last time I said I wanted to edit four short stories. I’ve printed them out, got them bound and I’m on the first go round. I’ve noticed a disturbing trend about the women in my stories. They’re hard nuts to crack. In a word, unforgiving. They’ve been though tough situations and had choices made for them, but eventually they stood tall and took control of their lives. 

When I come across a difficult character in a book, he/she has to have some redeeming quality. Reading about a Scrooge-without-a-reason will turn me off quicker than you can say ‘turn-the-page’.  Show me why your character is acting the way he/she does and early enough so that I don’t get to the point where I want to wring somebody’s neck. 

Not all of my female characters are snarky, mind you. Most of them are strong women, who’ve been battered by life, but know what they want, and reach for their dreams. 

If you’re a writer, do you notice a recurring pattern in the male/female characters you write and as a reader, do you like a certain kind of character?

Here's  a link that's a reminder of how not to treat characters.


  1. Yeah, my leads tend to be females with a chip on their shoulder. I didn't realize until a beta brought it to my attention asking, why is she so pissed all the time? I realized it was more my reaction than my lead. Great post!

  2. I tend to make my male, romantic interests similar in my stories. I have to be aware of this so that they all don't end up being too much alike. : )

  3. Hi,

    Know what you mean!

    I have committed that sin on occasion, but mostly my female MC's are different: I hope.

    Where one heroine sacrifices love for the hero - so that he can find love with another - her reason for this makes sense because she was utter cruel to him when he did nothing but display love for her.

    On the other hand, another heroine is being an utter bitch to the hero who adores her, and although he ends up jumping through fired hoops to win her over, he turns it around and she ends up fighting to win him over. ;)

    Even so, similarities remain!


  4. Cynthia, yes, it's wise to keep track of similarities and differences in our characters. Can't be writing the same people with only slight variations. Our readers will become bored.

    Francine, sounds like you create some interesting characters!

  5. Scrooge without a reason is not good. I had those in my novel; I had to do some major retweaking!

  6. Good points. I've been thinking about this a lot lately since I'm getting ready to write a brand new story.

  7. My heroines are definitely usually strong/resilient women who have gone through crap, and who pride themselves on being independent, etc. Nothing wrong with it, but yeah they need to have layers/depth.

  8. Yeah, my characters tend to fall into certain traits too. #dangitall

    At least you're aware so you can know if you want/need to change it up.

    For me, my girls tend to be angsty and conflicted.

    My boys tend to be essentially knights-in-shining-armor.

    And my fathers tend to be bad guys.


    oops :)

    *caveat*! Except in my MG novels--the dads tend to be good guys in them :)

  9. Good thing you caught that, Lydia!

    Kimberly, we're constantly mulling over stuff about our stories. At the start of a new story is a good time to think about what we want from our characters.

    Trisha, a woman such as you described usually has lots of layers to her character.

    Ali, It's good to be aware of the characters we tend to write. Gives us a chance to consciously avoid creating the same people repeatedly.

  10. Good points JL! Thanks for a timely reminder.

  11. I used to... Now I'm noticing some variation. Which I think is good. Keeps me on my toes. :-)

  12. I love sarcastic characters because teens often are very sarcastic.

  13. Misha, I think all of my character have a bit of 'tang' to them, just to varying degrees.

    AA, I guess you're a YA reader/writer.

  14. yeah, my characters tend to start out weak and almost whimpy and end up being strong.

  15. Lynda, good that they gain strength on the journey.


Don't be shy, I'd love to hear what you think.