Saturday 28 January 2012

Character Trouble

I’ve been working on getting my first novel ready for submission.  I’ve been working with a critique group as well as a group of loyal test readers.  I’ve been getting one reaction fairly consistently.

My heroine is too passive and bland.

When I started out writing this story, I wanted my heroine to be different from the brassy, loud, aggressive heroines I usually write.  I had two main reasons, one and the most important, my usual heroine didn’t fit with my hero.  He might have enjoyed a weekend with her but he wouldn’t have fallen in love with her.  The second reason was that I wanted to push myself as a writer.  It’s boring to read a writer whose characters are always essentially the same, only with different names.

Clearly, I’ve gone too far in the other direction.  It’s frustrating to me and I’m disappointed in myself.  And yet, I also know this is a learning process and the only way I can learn is if people are honest with me in my feedback and if I’m willing to hear it with an open mind.  I won’t lie, there’s still a moment when it’s hard to hear I haven’t been able to do what I wanted.  But if I take a breath and think about what’s been said, then I usually discover they’re right.

And they’re right in this case.  I have somehow transformed my naïve but eager heroine into a passive whiner.  Definitely not what I wanted.

I’ll have to do some real work to fix this and when I feel daunted and overwhelmed, I remind myself this is the price of my chosen profession.  Anyone can write a little story and share it, not caring about how good it is.  It takes dedication and discipline to take something good and make it better.  I need to prove I have that kind of dedication and discipline.

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