Saturday, December 14, 2013

Pairing Up Characters

How does a writer know when they have paired up characters that will work? There is no formula for pairing. However, we can look at it from many angles and usually tell if they are going work together or not.

Two people just interested in sex, is not a story. How they got to that point is. Two people butting heads all through the book can frustrate your reader. So what makes the sparks fly?

A good writer knows when they have a match. The characters gel. Part of the answers lie in real life. What works in real life often will work in fiction. In Nick's Baby I paired a couple who had very little in common. She was rich and had her own company. He was poor, and trying to move his mother and siblings out of Hell's Kitchen. She thought she could have whatever money could buy. He knew better. She wanted to be a mother, but knew absolutely nothing about it. He on the other hand came from a larger, and more loving family, so he knew what it took. How could characters like this work out.  In the first place they had to have a few basics in common. Nick put his family first, no matter what. He was loyal, hardworking, and honest. She liked those traits in a man.(Don't we all?) But Nick was unusual in the fact that he went to extremes  to keep his family safe and happy. And his goals were their happiness. So what they didn't have in common attracted them to each other. Sometimes we grow as humans when faced with the unknown.  Of course they butted heads until one gave in. But in the giving in, came the love and respect of each other.

In Courting Abby you meet Clint Travers who takes advantage of a relationship only to lose the girl of his dreams. Best friends Abby leaves and finds herself pregnant with Clint's child, but knowing she's just as much at fault, she decides to keep it a secret, until one day, it all comes out. Now Clint is faced with trying to win back her affection and his son's love. Can it work? Of course, because deep down Abby never stopped loving Clint. And even being engaged to another man doesn't stop the attraction that began so long ago.

In Ask No Tomorrows we have a white woman in trouble, and a black man that is forced by his own principles to help her. Naturally, because this is a western set in the 1800's we find Sam fighting against his own nature to help Riley Morgan keep her ranch. But it is the fact that Riley sees no barriers to falling in love with Sam that is so appealing to him. And sometimes just getting to know a person is all it takes to fall in love. It's her innocence that keeps the story sweet and the love growing between them.

Love is a strange commodity and sometimes it happens for all the wrong reasons. Just like in writing, some characters don't gel together.  But I have come to the conclusion that the key to real love is a deep abiding way of believing that keeps characters together. Sam and Riley had very little in common, completely different backgrounds, but Sam recognized the sweet innocence in Riley that others didn't. And Riley recognized the sacrifice Sam endured to help her, because it was the right thing to do. The fact that she accepted him as just a man, not a black man, not a man she couldn't have, but a man, made him love her and made the love grow between them. She was so open, he was so closed. He saw all the dangers ahead of them, she saw the opportunities they might have together. It was a tug of war, but a sweet war.
People come from all kinds of backgrounds, from all walks of life, but somewhere inside of them is a common denominator. And that makes the world go around. That's what romance writers create for your enjoyment. Finding the denominator is our job. Finding characters that fit, is no easy task, but it is a pleasant task when you can see their end. As writers we hope we can warm your hearts, and give you that fuzzy feeling deep inside by creating characters that work toward one thing…love!

Merry Christmas



Tina Donahue said...

Great post, Rita. You're correct that a writer knows when the match is right. It just gels. I've found that if writing the dialogue between the characters and their interaction is like pulling teeth, then they're not a good match. Once I have two (or more people) who gel, the writing gets very easy. :)

Redameter said...

Yes, it's so true, Tina. For some reason we have super natural antennas that sort of reach out to us when we just don't have the characters right, and sometimes this alone can stop the story from being told. Sometimes we have to hunt for that key ingredient and if it takes too much time to do so, then we know we are on the wrong track. I think everyone is Christmas shopping today, oh well, that's totally understandable. LOL
Love and blessings

jean hart stewart said...

I flesh out my characters is my mind for a while before starting a new book. Am in that stage now and they are banging heads. Might figure out how to get them together after I start the book, as these two are yelling at me and each other. Great post