Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Characters Make the Book

A book is the only place in which you can examine a fragile thought without breaking it, or explore an explosive idea without fear it will go off in your face. It is one of the few havens remaining where a man's mind can get both provocation and privacy. ~Edward P. Morgan

It's amazing sometimes at how different people are. I know, that should be obvious, but it's never more obvious to me than when various people comment on books.

As I've been working through the suggestions given to me on "Now and Forever", one CP has mentioned something things (little things, really, but they clearly stood out to her) that have struck her as odd. Mostly, she questions my hero's behavior in places -- says he's acting far too immature for his age.

I'd never even considered that. Either I hung out with guys who acted immature for their ages or she hung out with guys who acted older than their years. My thought, though, is that my guy should probably fall somewhere in between. So, I've taken her advice on some parts, but not on others, and it will be interesting to see what readers have to say (assuming this story ever sees the light of day).

I recently read a book where I felt the heroine was too perfect. She never got ruffled, never got angry, never got scared; she was always calm, level-headed and reasonable which was ridiculous considering the situation she was in (this was a romantic suspense book). I didn't like her. Ironically, it was those very traits the hero found attractive. Still, it really bugged me ... and when I looked at reviews after I finished, I discovered that more than half the folks who'd read the story felt the same.

Clearly, the author didn't go out of her way to make her heroine a person no one would like. I have to admit to being surprised that no one in her CP group or her editor mentioned it (though, I suppose they might have and she ignored them -- she's a very popular author, so might be able to get away with something like that).

No real point to my rambling other than I know we authors try to create protagonists that people like reading about (unless you've created an anti-hero ... but that's an entirely different thing), but it's amazing how badly we fail sometimes without realizing it.

I'm very much a reader of character-driven stories, so if a character doesn't work for me, the story won't work no matter how amazing the plot or writing. I had to finish that book I'd mentioned above, because it was one sent for review, but had I been reading it for pleasure, I might have stopped. I say *might* because I liked the hero and the secondary characters, so that may have made the difference.

And ... I'm done rambling. *G*


The other day I was so excited because my neighbor mowed his "lawn". I had someone comment that I got excited about strange things... but the fact is, his lawn is primarily weeds, and they spread into OUR lawn if he lets them go to seed. Drives me NUTS.

It's hard to keep a lawn looking like this:

When your neighbor has a lawn looking like this (and actually, this is the nicest part of his lawn because our sprinklers hit it ... you should see the other side of his driveway -- there are these odd weeds that are tall and spiky EVERYWHERE):

I've pulled dandelions four times now, ending up with full buckets every time (and we don't LOOK like we have that many):

It's a good thing I enjoy doing yard work...


You Are a Round Cut Stone

You have excellent organizational abilities. You can make sense of any mess.

You are driven to fulfill your duties. You take every responsibility seriously.

You are decisive and resolute. You choose well, even when the choice isn't easy.

You are quite disciplined. You exercise self-control in all aspects of your life.

How they got that answer from the questions they asked mystifies me... and, though I don't like round cut stones, the answer is exactly me. Scary.


Dru said...

Isn't it interesting that readers can read the same book and have different opinions about the heroine/hero. For me, I have to like the main characters otherwise there's no point in reading it.

re quiz: I'm a round cut stone and it's 90% accurate.

Have a great day!

Sarita said...

I love your gardening pictures. Seedlings here are still in the greenhouse.

I think it may snow this week...

No, really, it's cold.

anno said...

Your frustration with your neighbor reminds me that the beauty of any garden, like the appeal of any book, is in the eye of the beholder. Around here, we refer to our weeds as "indigenous grasses" and enjoy the birds and butterflies that make their home among them. But then, we are admittedly very lazy about lawn care.

As for that bowl of dandelion greens... if they haven't been sprayed with pesticides, consider sauteeing them with garlic & olive oil, maybe finishing with lemon juice and salt. They're incredibly nutritious; might make you consider growing a crop of your own!

Brandy said...

Glad to know I'm not the only one who has neighbors who drive them batty because of their lawns. Every time I see a dandelion I yank it out, so our yard looked like we had gophers at one point. The spiky weeds? Do they look like grass, but aren't?

Characters appeal to different people different ways. And it's funny, but you may say you'd like a character like the one you've mentioned, and then faced with the reality of one-been turned off by him/her.

I, too, am a round stone. And it's 75% correct. Though I do not like round stones.

Tori Lennox said...

Our junkyard-ish neighbors? I just noticed their backyard. It looks like a freaking jungle. And not in a good way. It's a perfect match for all the crap they still have in their FRONT yard. Some people have no pride in their homes.