Monday, September 1, 2014

Fixing a Character

I just finished giving CAN THIS MANUSCRIPT BE SAVED to a Sisters In Crime Group. I love Sisters In Crime! Great writers.

Anyway, The issue of character likeability came up (as it always does) in the section on Words. Watching your words. Making sure your words are giving the impression you want them to give.

I like wisecrackers. I like banter. I like men confident in their sexuality who tell the heroine just how attracted they are to them.

Unfortunately, sometimes my wisecracks come across as arrogance or even meanness. My banter can sound childish. (Anyone's banter can sound childish.) And those sexy remarks my heroes make? Yikes. They can really get me into trouble.

So .. the fix?

First of all, if your H and H are bantering...make sure what they're talking about...well, fits. Your banter can be goofy as all get out, even immature, but if it fits into the scene and the story and has a purpose (even if that purpose is to prove how far each will go before they lose an argument...or how hard they'll work to get the last word) or is very sexy...then you're probably okay.

But if they are bantering in every other scene, maybe foolishly, perhaps without purpose, it may grow tiresome...or, worse, lose impact.

Second, if your hero is always telling the heroine what he wants to do with her or how he will someday get her into bed, he can easily come across as one dimensional. Hah. Didn't expect that did you? You thought I'd say something more like he'd come across as being an idiot (since that seems to be one of my favorite words).

The truth is to have a hero who is "real"...a "real" person, somebody we can relate to and be attracted to...he has to have more than sex on the brain. And sometimes it's those very scenes where he doesn't spout innuendos, flirt or try to unnerve the heroine that make him all the more sexy.

Third, watch your words. Don't repeat the same description. Don't repeat the same actions or reactions. And make sure the words you use are giving the right impression. I use the example of a friend who had her character use the word insurrection in the middle of a bar fight. Her intent was to show her heroine was educated...the actual impression she gave was that her heroine was a snob.

Words are our business. You should love giving thoughtful consideration to making sure the ones you use give the right impression and build the character, not create a confusing collage of mismatched descriptions, actions and reactions...Remembering, my lovelies, that reaction phrases tell a great deal about your character because reactions are automatic. If he's always scratching his armpit when confused...well, you get the picture. LOL

Happy Monday and Happy Reading...

susan meier


CJG said...

I found this post very interesting. Isn't it amazing how 2 people can hear the same banter, one gets it and the other gets offended or doesn't understand. I had a Russian friend who spent years trying to find a Russian joke that I'd find funny, I wasn't being mean, we were actually exploring the different sense of humor in our two cultures. Igor never succeeded. But, now when I think I am being funny, I imagine reading it to my Grandmother or Igor -then I make my husband read it. Because, one person's chuckle can also be a landmine!

Susan said...

Humor is tricky business!


Cathy Shouse said...

Love these insights on bantering and what can go wrong, Susan!

Jen said...

Banter tends to be one of my favorite parts of dialogue. I love your take on it. I've seen it go way wrong in a quick second.

I like variety for actions done by the character. If I read a book and the characters are always nodding or shrugging I get bored super fast!

Thanks again for another great blog post. xo