Swoon Author Alyssa Brandon: Characters – To Have, to Hold, to Hate?
Should you love or hate your characters? Are their your friends? Or are they just tools to get your story to where it needs to go?
I’m not sure. I do know that when you write a book, the simple truth is you’re going to be spending a lot of time with these made up people. And to get the story done, you’re going to have to be really dedicated to them.
You have to understand them. Know them. You have to be the character. Her best friend. And her worst enemy. All at the same time. And you have to like them. At least most of the time. Because for the time you’re writing their story you have to be able to stick with them.
As the writer, I’m on the characters' sides and want to see them succeed. But I also know I can’t let them—at least not until they’ve proven themselves. So I put them through hell because I know they’ll come out stronger on the other side... well, I try to.
Sadly, for me the actual “sticking with” rather than just abandoning the story (and the characters) leaving the whole thing unfinished is the hardest part. Figuring out what a character wants and then plotting ways to make sure they don’t get it until the end (while also making them generally miserable)? Piff, that’s all fun and games. But actually getting my made-up people to THE END... that’s tough.
It’s like an actual relationship in a lot of ways. Because just like when you meet a new person, you have to get to know them, figure them out and get along with them. Some you’ll dislike a lot. Some people you will love. You’ll want to spend hours upon hours of your life with them. But even the characters (or people) in your life you care about the most will sometimes drive you crazy. Or on occasion bore you to tears.
When I was writing Bound to You there were times I really didn’t like my characters at all. In fact, I thought the lot of them were stupid and nothing they did made sense. Or they just seemed so boring and not at all worth spending another minute on. Sometimes I actually kind of hated both Megan and James. Which I think is pretty normal. Because most authors (with a few exceptions) like their characters only most of the time.
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And maybe that’s enough to get us through the story? Just like we love our special someone in our real lives, we have that thing that frustrates the heck out of us about them too. It’s the same for me and my characters in some ways. But I think feeling a little bit of hate towards one's characters is actually helpful... especially when you need to do terrible things to them in the name of character (or plot) development!