I think, somehow, I am destined to create what I learned only yesterday are beta heroes. I had never, until this week, heard there was such a phenomenon. Now I am so glad I know what he is. You see, several members of my critique group have been telling me that the male protagonist in my current novel is not “strong enough” – that he ought to be more macho, more – and these are my words now – traditional. It has been a profoundly frustrating experience. You see, I don’t want my main characters to be constrained by traditional boxes, not the men and especially not the women. So, while all the members of my group think my female lead is great, they have been telling me my male lead ought to be more stereotypical (my words again). I was even told he is a “wuss” and that that’s not what readers want. They seem to equate “strong” with “macho.”
I beg to differ. When I think back to my previous books, none of my male protagonists really fit the mold. Yet, my readers have loved those characters. They see no problem with them. And this is true even of my male readers. It seems readers and writers respond differently. Hmmmmm. Continue reading “The Beta Hero: A Non-Stereotypical Male Character”
I don’t know about anyone else’s process, but I’m a pantser, so when I start writing a new novel, I have a few ideas about where it’s going, but it’s not all planned out by any means. That includes the characters. Generally I will start with a few bullet points of the action, the twists and turns of the story, but the characters often are close to a blank slate at the first. They always evolve as I write, some faster than others. And they very often surprise me.
A while back I read Stephen King’s On Writing (yes, I know, I’m probably the last person on the planet to read it), and he talked quite a bit about being true to the characters. At one point, he described his process like this: Continue reading “Writing Fiction: To Thine Own Character Be True”
by Ben Steele
It’s one of those tiny details that trips authors up a lot. How much do you focus on the teeth of your characters? Do you gloss over it? If it’s a romance, do they need Hollywood teeth? Or does everyone of low class look like the meth addicts from Orange Is the New Black?
Many people think in linear terms: the further in the past characters are set, the worse their teeth are. But this may not be a reliable rule of thumb if you’re looking to splash a little bit of historical accuracy into your characters’ faces. But it’s not just about historical accuracy. Thinking about teeth can be one of those little details that speak volumes about your narrative, the technology and tone of your world.
So, how does that impact what you’re writing? Does it mean that the characters in a long-ago era would all have bad teeth? Would it be regional? Sociological? And, what about Austin Powers? The answer is a little more complicated than you might think. Let’s look at history a bit to get a better understanding. Continue reading “Writing and Teeth: Should Your Characters Have Bad Teeth?”
A recent incident at my writers’ group sparked the idea for my post today. A writer submitted a piece where he offered no description of characters that exposed their race. However, the things he chose to write about the characters did make people wonder what race some of the characters were. The main character was a white man married to a black woman, and there were subtle hints — particularly around hair care — of the race of the wife, but nothing explicit. He’d done this on purpose, with the idea that he wanted the reader to imagine the characters to be however they wanted them to be. One of the ladies there, Pam, asked, “Why? Why would you want to be less specific about them? I’ve never heard a good reason for doing this?” Continue reading “Diversity Is About Inclusion, Not Exclusion”