Wednesday, February 11, 2015

WTF Wednesdays: Going Like the Weather

Hello everyone!

You might see that my Wednesday post is sporting a different name today. Bear with me, like the title says I'm changing things up a bit. If you didn't know, where I am right now the weekend was balmy with sunny 50 degree days, only to drop back down to the low 20s earlier this week and become sunny and around 40 today. Typical for where I live, unfortunately. I'm taking a page from Mother Nature's book today, because with a different me there's going to be different things going down on here now.

First off, I'm no longer going to be blogging every single day. Clearly that just doesn't ever work, and half the time I think 'oh, I have time today. But it's Wednesday. Might as well wait until Monday.' That spirals viciously out of hand. So I think that Monday, Wednesday, and Friday posts are okay. Enough for a post about what's going on with me, a post about craft and whatever advice I can give, and a post about various things, book reviews, industry things, or whatever else. Sound good?

Good, glad you're still with me.

Since today I've spent all this reading space telling everyone what's going down, my writing advice is going to be short and sweet. I'm sure you'll all be glad for a short post for the first time in forever. Friday I'm finally responding to the lovely Rae Slater's nomination for some blog questions I'll have to answer. I won't nominate anyone, being so late (what else is new?) and knowing everyone else has done this already.


In the vein of change and transformation, I'm talking a little on how characters go through small changes - something that I think can make or break a character.

So you've got the big character arc: Darcy learns to be humble and Elizabeth learns to not be so hung-up on first impressions. Harry accepts his Chosen One status and makes the ultimate sacrifice.

But the thing is, these characters aren't awesome because they're the protagonists. Trust me, I've seen a protagonist or two in my day that makes the hero's journey or overcomes something huge, and at the end I still don't care about them and don't think they changed.

What makes these characters so great is that they go through many small changes in order to enact the big change. Some changes are completely extraneous, like Ron's eventual support of SPEW and Hermione's other magical welfare initiatives. Those are just as important as the ones that make the big arc. Because writers, especially newer writers or writers who have just had an idea and have fallen passionately in love, make sure these all work out. Harry obviously has to become more selfless in order to sacrifice himself if he's going to go up against Voldemort. No more kicking and screaming. Those are almost always in place.

But the thing is, guys, we have to think about the readers.

Your reader wants to love these people in this book. They want to join your book's fandom and fanfic all over tumblr and go into metas about how wonderful these characters are. No one reads a book to hate it. No one whose opinion is worth paying attention to, anyway. But they meet your character in a way that  you will never have the pleasure of doing - with no back story. They don't know that you agonized over this character's family tree for days or that you have a whole reason for why they're named how they are. They just meet them. They're waiting for them to blossom before them and give them a reason to keep reading and fall in love.

The point is, all the little nuances that you know your character has need to be communicated to the reader. All the little changes. Ron's tolerance, Elizabeth and Darcy's pride, all these things. Not every character is perfect, and you can't make someone a likeable rogue forever. They need to have depth, have little changes based on what's happening in the plot or with the people around them, like a real person. That's where the life in characters come from.

Example: Isaac stands whenever a woman enters the room. Truly gentlemanly, a good guy. Not even the fedora-wearing kind. But whenever Laura comes in, she yells at him for standing. She doesn't like it when he stands and makes her feel awkward and uncomfortable. She feels like he's giving her too much importance because she came in. So whenever people come in, Isaac stands for the ladies. Then he locks eyes with Laura and sits back down.

Do you know a little more about Isaac now? I know I do. Do you like him more?

The answers you give show that the little things really do mean the world. Don't be afraid to nitpick, because that's where the real life, and the real love, come in.