Thanks everyone for the great input on my last post! Got some great ideas. You rock, did you know that? Anyway, still on the subject of my difficulties with heroines, I had a bit of a brainwave today. It actually happened while I was doing a pilates class (as you do). I realised that in order to do some of the exercises, I was over-compensating for my weak arms by using my shoulders, which are really strong. I know, what’s your point Jackie? Well, the point is that I am doing something similiar with my heroines. In order to cover my weak character development, I have been over-relying on quirks to make my heroines different.
Kate is a case in point. She started out a hippy because I didn’t really understand conflict at the time and making her a stereotype was an easy way of characterising her. Bad move. And I think that’s why I’m finding it difficult to get a handle on her now because once I take away the stereotype, where is my character? In stripping her of her quirks (eco beliefs, nose-ring) I’ve exposed the fact that she has no real conflict. She’s just a cardboard cutout. So I have to go back to basics, dig deep to find out who she is. Build up a real background with real problems.
Once I’ve got that, I can add those quirks back again – but only if they are true to the person she is now. Because although quirks aren’t bad, if you’re going to use them there has to be a reason for them. I think I’ve mentioned this before in other posts but if, for example, you take the time to mention your heroine’s love of sparkly red shoes, you should then also explain why she likes them. Is she like Dorothy and they represent escape? And if so, what is she escaping and why?
Kate, for example, has retained one of her old quirks (no, not the nose-ring). She wears a friendship bracelet of red string around one wrist. Now, in the old draft there wasn’t any reason for behind this, she wore it because I put it there. In the new draft however, she wears it because her brother gave it to her before he left to go overseas. She hasn’t seen him in years and for her, it represents his connection to her. And now, because I’ve linked it to her conflict, it also represents the family that she once had and loved, and that is slowly slipping away from her. Now, I’m sure Alex will make a comment on this bracelet and perhaps it’ll come to mean something for him too. Perhaps, once I write the thing, he’ll help Kate to change its meaning so that it doesn’t represent what she lost, but what remains strong. Because he has his own lesson to teach her, just as she has something to teach him.
Anyway, all this has been great distraction from the waiting. So, anyone else have a problem with unexplainable quirks?