From Sarah, With Joy

Writer querying two novels and some other word babies. I tend to effervesce.

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Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Whats the Hardest Type of Character for You To Write?

I find this a really interesting question. I think it says a lot about the writer.

We all need to relate to our characters, and I think there are just people we relate to much more easily than others.

For me personally, the characters that I find hardest to write means that I will probably never be a very good classic romance writer. Classic in the sense of normal, traditional. Because those stories usually require confident, hunky people, and that is hard for me. The young, hot, popular guy who is the heart-throb of so many movies and books. In other words:


I can't decide if it would be harder for me to write the lead quarterback or his head cheerleader girlfriend. I am much more comfortable with quirk. Characters who aren't quite comfortable in their own skin, who feel weird, who maybe don't have too many friends. I'm not saying any type of character is inherently better than any other, I'm just saying certain characters come easier for certain writers. I just don't see Taylor Lautner fitting in one of my stories anytime soon. Mark Ruffalo maybe :)

So now what. I don't know about you guys, but when someone says I "don't do" something, even if that someone is myself, the contradictory wave rises in me and I think, "Oh yeah? Watch me." Who needs limitations, right? But if we're not going to let ourselves be restricted by these uncomfortable characters, how do we deal with them? I've thought of two ways:

First, work with them anyway. So Traditional Football Hero is my weak spot. I'll think up a short story for that character and try it out. You don't have to stay with the character for more than a day, but it could be a good way to stretch some creative muscles.

Or else, quirk them up. As in, morph them into something your more comfortable with. Maybe I start with Traditional Football Hero but actually he's super shy and secretly hates sports. Or maybe he's a total jerk and ends up being the true antagonist, a la Doctor Horrible's Sing-a-long Blog. I'd be comfortable working with that :)

Your turn. What would be the hardest character type for you to write? Do you think trying them out in a short story or novella would be a valuable exercise?

Sarah Allen

15 comments:

  1. The cocky, overly confident womanizer. I hate them in real life so if I were to write one I'd make him a big, gigantic jerk face and no one would like him. At all.

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  2. Ive been told that my best characters are the children and the older people. I tend to struggle with "normal" characters, people my age, living regular lives, etc. I do write bad guys pretty well, though - not sure what that says about me.... :)

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  3. I struggle with some of the same things you do, but readers are not all alike. We need characters we can relate to. And avoiding cliche characters is a good thing. Don't be afraid to break the mold. :)

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  4. Snarky. I am particularly bad when it comes to writing snarky characters. Which is interesting because I'm naturally snarky in real life! I don't know why it is so difficult for me, but it is.

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  5. Putting them in a short story would definitely help. I do it all the time, and it works wonders. The hardest characters for me to write are the different ones. I wrote a book a while back about a girl who goes crazy, and writing what went on in her head was the hardest thing I've ever written. Other tricky characters are the antagonists. I CANNOT come up with good motivations, dialogue, etc., so I usually have them silent or working through others (and I fill up the extra space with fight scenes because FUN).

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  6. You know, I've never thought of that. I don't know. Good post! You left me wandering about this.

    Hugs and chocolate,
    Shelly

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  7. My most difficult character was a woman. (Yeah, don't laugh.) But I did it. So I upped the challenge and wrote a small boy. Think I did all right with that one as well. Not sure what difficult character I will tackle next.

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  8. My most difficult characters are flat or stock characters. I go way too far into motivations and backstories, with characters where it will never even matter. Then it keeps going in my head until I am convinced they need their own book entirely.

    I feel like we push and push for round, fleshed-out characters, but sometimes we really need characters that can fade into the background and give the leads some room to shine.

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  9. You need to market a t-shirt that says, "Quirk them up." My character challenge is a vulnerable female. I always want to yell at them to step up the plate and quit their whining. Guess I need to mine some empathy for those gals.

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  10. Whatever the character, its important to make them live. I have read books where some, if not all, of the characters are so flat they could have been ironed.

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  11. I think I'd have the same problem as you, Sarah. I love a bit of quirk in my characters too :-)

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  12. It's difficult for me to write a character that isn't deluded or neurotic in some way, but it's almost impossible for me to write a serious or sentimental character. I cannot do it. I'm afraid to find out what that says about me...

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  13. A normal person/character, who isn't going off the deep end (male) or who isn't sexually overcharged (female).

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  14. I guess I don't know what would be hardest for me. I've never really thought about it, but it's a good question. Hmm, I'll have to put some thought into this. :)

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  15. "Traditional Football Hero but actually he's super shy and secretly hates sports." --> That's great! Adding quirks to characters always is helpful.

    What kind of character would be difficult for me to write? I'm not sure but I will think on that one for sure to see if I can work on it in a future story.

    Great post!

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