Wednesday, March 28, 2007

In Like A Lamb, Out Like A Lion

March, in Michigan, is a very capricious month. One day there might be snow and freezing rain, the next warm spring air and vibrant blue skies. But we’re not here to talk about Spring. That was last week :D

Today, I want to talk about the changeable qualities of our characters - how they start, how they finish. Generally, we (and, yes, I’m using the royal we since I suspect most authors do this) start with a rather formless character who is little more than a mote in our mind’s eye. I liken this stage to the lamb since he’s ‘young’ in my mind and full of potential. Some of us start giving him physical characteristics, hair color and length, eye color, body type, and perhaps some distinguishing features or marks to set him apart from all the others. If he’s a hero, then we emphasize his physical characteristics to make him, well, worthy of being the hero of a romance novel.

Once we’re satisfied that we’ve made him as drool worthy as realistically possible, we begin to concentrate on his personality. Some traits are fairly standard. The hero must be brave and resourceful. He must exude self-confidence and have an intrinsic sex appeal (apart from his gorgeous physical appeal). He must be honest, loyal and, oh, a thousand other admirable qualities. But he must also have a failing of some sort. Something that he must overcome. Something that makes him...real. By the time I’m done, the hero has become a veritable lion.

I can’t speak for other authors but I generally will take one of these personality factors and strengthen it. After all, you can have too much of a good thing. So that one good quality becomes a thorn in our lion’s paw.

For example, if he’s self-confident, perhaps I’ll make him overly confident. I can make him so very confident that he can handle anything that comes his way that he becomes blind to some circumstances around him. And those will get him into trouble. And that trouble will usually lead to the main conflict in the story. If I’m very lucky, it will also lead to the conflict that can jeopardize his relationship with the heroine.

And, thankfully, she’s the lucky woman who gets to tame the lion.


Cassandra Kane said...

I agree, it's always the flaws in our characters that make us fall in love with them.

Skylar Masey said...

Wapow! *cracks a whip*

Great post Lynda!

I'm almost exactly the opposite. I usually do my heroine first, and then try to think what hero will drive them crazy with conflict, or can help them with a problem. Of course, he can't be a pushover. Some kitty cat tendencies are okay especially if he's a Beta, but who wants a man who'll always roll over for you to rub his belly?

(Darn I'm feeling the influence of Cassandra's post! :0))