Friday, November 6, 2009


Please note; The word KERFUFFLE only has one L in it.  A single L.  Locate it.  Learn it.  Love it.

The second half of today's PSA relates to the sympathetic character.

I started a book at the beginning of the week that I don't think I'll name because I don't think I'm going to finish it.  Why? because I just don't care about the heroine.  Or the hero, even. We're romance readers and writers on this small blog.  We are used to our H & H being larger than life.  We have gotten used to them having transcendent beauty, and, at least in the heroes, we're used to them having slightly more money than God.

As mere mortals, we generally find their lives enviable, but we still wouldn't want to be them because with Mo' Money, Mo Problems.  Even so, we love these guys and gals.  Our soul aches and our heart breaks for them... our eyeballs go dry for the love of them.

Unless we can't stand them.

So, this book I can't bring myself to finish... *sigh*  We have the amazingly, stunningly, breathtakingly beautiful woman who has a vice or two.  Her vices are greed and vanity, oh yeah, and pride.  And then there's that bit about thinking she should get a pass on breaking the law because things haven't gone well for her.  And all men should fall for her, because she's so hot, and she knows it.

And though she's broke as a joke, she won't confide in her loaded family because--even though they've never treated her as less than--she feels like an outsider.  But she's only broke because of making idiotic financial decisions based on greed.  The Feds are after her for insider trading, and she feels persecuted because, you know, she's so hot, and the female investigator is just jealous.  And why isn't the hero wrapped around her finger like she needs him to be - doesn't he know she's hot?

And let's talk about our hero for a second.  He thinks she's hot.  But, you know, he's rich and successful and has had groupies throwing themselves at his hot self for years, so he can resist.  Even so, she's the most beautiful of the beautiful women he's ever known.  Therefore, of course, she is not to be trusted. 

*rolls eyes*  I got about seven chapters in before I just couldn't turn another page.

Beauty is good.  Inner beauty is better.  Vice is fine, TSTHOW (too shallow to hang out with) is not.  Confidence has its place, but humility is more attractive.  Oh yeah, and don't expect your readers to be sympathetic to a character who puts her own security in jeopardy out of greed, breaks the law while doing so, is caught, and thinks she should get off scott free.
When you're a new author "they" tell you to read.  Read everything.  Read the good and the bad.  Examine it all.  Learn what makes the good, good, and how to emulate it.  Learn what makes the bad, bad, and though you won't be able to do so entirely, try to avoid it.

I've read craft books, and countless blog posts on writing.  I've read thousands of books, both good and bad.  I have, I daresay, a bit of an instinct about how and why a book isn't working, though I still can't always identify the elusive IT that makes a good piece of writing work.

I know in the past I would have continued to read this book--especially after having invested seven chapters to the cause--but not this time.  There was nothing more to learn from my foray between the pages of her writing effort.  The writing was fine.  Lively even.  The plot, I'm sure would have gone somewhere eventually.  But those damned characters.  I'm sorry, I just can't give a rip for the poor blonde bombshell who broke the law but is still living in style with her rich family and wants a free pass on breaking the law while she's so harassed by the rich, gorgeous hero who hasn't done anything to her except keep his pants zipped.

I have learned all I needed to know from that book.  Keep your characters sympathetic.

In other news, I'm a maroon (deliberate misspelling of "moron" based on my deep and abiding love of Bugs Bunny).

Early this year, I learned that I have a very difficult time writing daily.  I can think about my story daily, mentally plot, learn my characters, etc. ...all of the other internal work that goes along with writing a book.  But sitting down and writing daily is something my mind balks at; the creative well needs time to re-fill.

Two to three good writing sessions a week can provide me with many workable pages.  Trying to force it provides me with a pitiful amount of pages.  I'll be back on the NaNo horse tomorrow after two days off.  I can feel the words bubbling up inside me. 

Just Finished: Shattered Dreams 
Currently reading: Heather's Gift 
Currently reading: Dance With The Devil


Linda Rader said...

I love your novel counter. How did you get that?

Venus Vaughn said...

Welcome, Linda.

The novel counter is from Copy the code from there and add it to your Layout section as a gadget.

Hope that helps!

Joe Iriarte said...

I'm not a romance reader or writer, but I'm right there with you. I feel like the hours I spend reading a book are hours I'm spending with the protagonist. I don't spend time with nasty, shallow, inconsiderate people in real life; why the heck should I spend time with them when I'm in the world of a book?!

That's an interesting outlook, about how not writing everyday helps charge your creativity. That definitely makes sense. I don't think I work quite the same way--not that my creativity doesn't need recharging, because it does, but I find that writing is habitual for me. If I break the habit, it's hard to start it up again. As long as I keep writing every day, though, I don't find it hard to get started.

Anyway, good luck with your manuscripts!

Venus Vaughn said...

Hi Joe, and welcome to you too :)

I kind of want to send you that book now so you can throw it against a wall for me. But instead I've put it back on Paperback Swap and will let some other sucker *ahem* I mean, reader experience it for themselves.

Besides, not being a romance reader, you'd have either one of two reactions. You'd either read all the way through wondering what this 'romance' stuff is all about - and I'd hate to saddle you with a poor example. Or you'd stop after a chapter and a half and think this is indicative of the genre. It isn't.

As for my creativity well - my habit lies in staying mentally in touch with my characters. If I lose that, I lose the words. So long as they're their in my head, I'll be able to put something decent on the page.

Good luck with your MSs too.

Venus Vaughn said...

"they're there"
I gots grammar. I swear.

Joe Iriarte said...


I'm mortified whenever I catch myself mixing up its and it's--I do know the difference! Really!

You know, come to think of it, I do have some experience with romance. My wife, like me, likes science fiction, and she's really enjoyed Linnea Sinclair and Anne Aguirre, both of whom write SF-romance. I've ended up reading those books too. Both were a lot of fun!