Thursday, June 12, 2014

Making Your Characters Suffer by Terri Weldon

Terri Weldon
Hi everyone! I’m excited to be joining the Seriously Write team as a regular contributor. Thanks to Dora Hiers's gracious invitation, I’ll be visiting with you on the second Thursday of each month.

Dora holds a special place in my heart. When I joined the Pelican Author Loop, she befriended me and offered me an opportunity to be a guest blogger. Her kindness and generosity is something I’ll never forget.

MAKING YOUR CHARACTERS SUFFER

As authors we all know our characters are going to have to suffer, regardless of the genre. Now I’ll be the first to admit I have a problem putting my precious creation through the wringer. I’m an easy going person who enjoys a peaceable life and I like to get along with others. My grandmother called it playing pretty. But guess what happens when your characters play pretty? You’ve got it, they become b-o-r-i-n-g!

How often have you heard someone say they wanted a fairy tale romance? Take a minute and think about that statement. Because unless things have changed since I was a little girl in a faraway land (and time), those poor princesses suffered. One little girl had a wicked stepmother who treated her like a slave. She even locked her up to keep her from attending a ball. Another young woman was trapped in a castle with a beast. A third girl is cursed and falls into a deep sleep and can only be awakened by true love’s kiss. Hmm, now I don’t know about you, but I don’t think that’s the kind of romance I’m looking for in real life. And certainly not what I’m wanting for my heroine. I brought her to life and I want her to find a good man who will love and cherish her.

However, a romance between a nice young man and a sweet young girl wouldn’t be any fun to read. In fact, your reader might find it boring, start to yawn, and place it on the nightstand. And if your reader happens to be an editor – watch out – because a good editor will realize it isn’t a publishable book.

Let me give you an example. In real life, Dora’s welcoming spirit and invitation to be a guest on Seriously Write was wonderful. In a novel she would need to pretend to befriend me and then strike my computer with a virus so I couldn’t blog on any site. As the heroine I would have a laptop as a backup and be convinced I could overcome this obstacle. But when I whip my laptop out, I discover it has been smashed to smithereens by our villainess. It would look like all was lost and I wouldn’t be able to overcome. At the last moment, I would stumble upon my sister’s tablet and post my article, exposing our villainess, and dazzling the world with my masterful writing. My prince charming would offer me a three book contract along with a three carat diamond. Much more fun to read about!

I had this problem myself last month. Things were going a little too smoothly in a Christmas novella I recently finished. So I went back and made my heroine suffer. She’s a tomboy and she wanted to look like a lady. The poor girl, she ended up humiliated. My hope is that readers will root for her to be accepted like she is and at the same time realize they don’t need to pretend to be anything other than who God created them to be.

So how about you – do you like to make your characters suffer or do you find it hard to be mean to them? What about when you are reading? Do you enjoy a book where the heroine or hero is put through the wringer? Leave a comment and tell me about some of the problems you’ve had making your story people suffer. Also, I’d love it if you would share a few tips on how you have successfully upped the ante on your characters suffering throughout your novel. 

****
Purchase Link
Misty Winslow is determined to find her prince, and she meets the man of her dreams through an Internet dating service. Or is he, because the new dentist in town also sets her heart aflutter.

It's love at first sight for Tyler Davenport, but before he can finish his first root canal, Misty is involved in an exclusive online romance with Wes99—Tyler’s online persona. How can he tell her he’s the man she’s been waiting to meet, and how rational is it for him to be jealous of Wes99! Soon Tyler's pulling out all the stops to woo Misty.

As Christmas approaches, Wes99 and Tyler both ask her to meet them under the mistletoe. Which man will she choose?

Terri Weldon is a lead analyst by day and an author by night. She enjoys gardening, reading, and playing in the hand bell choir. One of her favorite pastimes is volunteering as the librarian at her church. It allows her to shop for books and spend someone else’s money! Plus, she has the great joy of introducing people to Christian fiction. She lives with her family in Oklahoma. Terri has three dogs – a lovable mutt and two adorable Westies. Terri is a member of ACFW and OCFW, a local chapter of ACFW. Her dream of becoming a published novelist came true in November 2013 when Mistletoe Magic, released from White Rose Publishing. To learn more about Terri visit her website at www.TerriWeldon.com.

25 comments:

  1. lol, cute, Terri!

    I'm with you. I rather like my characters, so it's tough to be tough. But I just remind myself they can't reach their happily-ever-after until they survive the wringer. Fun post, Terri. :)

    ReplyDelete
  2. I'd never realized how much pain was in a fairy tale romance until now. Need to re-think a few things now ...

    So thrilled that you're a "regular" now, Terri! Great job!

    ReplyDelete
  3. Oh my! Dora, how could you? :)

    Friction, misunderstanding, contrary goals--all great for making the love interests suffer. I like to know what my characters don't want and then give it to them. :)

    ReplyDelete
  4. Dora, thanks for letting me use you in my example. I'm trying to get tougher on my characters.

    ReplyDelete
  5. Thanks, Angie! I'm thrilled to be here. I was kind of surprised myself when I got to thinking about those poor princesses.

    ReplyDelete
  6. Sandy, great idea! That is a sure fired way to make the character suffer and add conflict. Now I know who to turn to when I need help. :-)

    ReplyDelete
  7. Hi Terri! In my everyday life I hate conflict and work go avoid it, but I have to admit that as a reader I like the characters to suffer a little! I enjoy seeing how they cope with the adversity, or danger, and how they relate to the other characters - especially the hero - while this is going on. I'm a cozy mystery reader so I probably don't like as much conflict as done if the books have but I still enjoy it. Thanks for such an interesting post!

    ReplyDelete
  8. Great post! Lots of good information here, Terri. Thanks for sharing. I'll be looking for your next post next month!

    ReplyDelete
  9. Hi Loves to Read, thanks for stopping by. It is great to get a reader's perspective. I enjoy cozy mysteries as well.

    I'm glad you enjoyed the post!

    ReplyDelete
  10. Christina, I'm glad you found the information helpful. Looking forward to coming back next month!

    ReplyDelete
  11. Terri, I'm like you in real life. I want peace! And I want to make everyone happy. So it's tough for me to remember to torture my characters. :)

    ReplyDelete
  12. Hi Terri, I so feel the same about Dora..and Angie. Their support is something I am grateful for every day. As for characters, I don't LIKE giving them bad times, but I know in my head it'll all work out. That's why I like romance....although it isn't always so cut and dried in real life, we can escape for a while . I look forward to your Christmas novella! Great post today.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Tanya, you snuck in here, and I almost missed this comment. Thank you, dear friend. Same here! Although I must confess I've been a tad envious seeing all those pics coming out of Hawaii!! Hope you had a fabulous time! :)

      Delete
  13. Great post, Terri! Glad you've joined us!

    ReplyDelete
  14. Hi Missy, thanks for stopping by. Maybe we can live conflict free lives and let our characters do all the suffering!

    ReplyDelete
  15. Tanya, everyone I've met at Seriously Write has been awesome! I'm blessed to have met this entire group of ladies - you included.

    Nice to see we all like peaceable lives. I agree totally with you about romances. Even when we are writing or reading and the character is suffering, we know a happily ever after is in their future.

    ReplyDelete
  16. Thanks Annette! I love being here.

    ReplyDelete
  17. Great post Terri! Keep up the great work and make those characters suffer the worst!

    ReplyDelete
  18. Welcome, Terri! Thanks for the fun post! That's so true! We talk about "fairy tale" romances, but those we're most fond of were filled with suffering and challenges! I never quite thought of that way! LOL

    ReplyDelete
  19. Dawn - thanks for the warm welcome. I have to admit writing this made me think of fairy tales in a new light!

    ReplyDelete
  20. Good post, Terri. It's great when everything goes smoothly in real life, but not so great when it happens in a book.

    ReplyDelete
  21. Thanks, Maria! Yep, it would make for pretty dull reading, but it makes for a nice life in the real world. :-)

    ReplyDelete
  22. Hi Mikki! I'm so glad you stopped by! I'll keep making my characters feel the pain. :-)

    ReplyDelete

We'd love to hear your thoughts! Please leave comments. We'll moderate and post them!