Saturday, February 11, 2012

Fan Reaction to Characters

I just read a blog where a blogger (duh!) wrote about the five fictional female characters they would like to smack up side the head.  In one breath I want to defend my fellow authors (as a writer) but in the next I couldn't agree more with what the blogger and ALL of the commentors to her blog said in response (as a fan).

This worries me as a writer on several levels.  But the one thing that really sticks out to me is:  How do I write characters so that fans fall in love with them but don't end up loathing them?  I copied this next bit (spelling error and all) from a post by a commentor under the blog:

"I think the most disapointing thing about these characters has been the lack of inner growth and wisdom. The authors are being really cookie cutter in dropping the same character into different situations, which can work for about 3 books, but no more."

Umm, damn.

That is the exact reaction that I do NOT want to have from my fans.  Somewhere in the process of writing I believe it is my job to take stock of what the fans are saying.  Do they like the characters, is there an obvious thing to all of them but it seems to be escaping me (it's possible), and at what point if the fans are screaming loud enough and long enough do I make fundamental changes to the characters because the fans are tired of reading about the same mistakes or the same reactions to situations book after book?

I agree with the fans.  Darn it I am tired of my favorite heroine making the same mistakes repeatedly or having something bad happen to her or her friends/family and she allows it to drag her down and KEEP her down.  I want them to change I want them to get up and move forward.  As a fan I am standing there with everyone else yelling at my favorite authors.

THEN..... I remember.

The next time fans are screaming it could be me they are screaming at to change a character.  And there is where I falter.  What if my girl simply isn't ready to grow up yet?  I mean granted she has had a book or two or three to figure things out and she simply doesn't get it.  BUT this is who she is and maybe I have some epiphany set up for her in book 7 as opposed to books 2, 3 and 4.  What if I can hear the fans screaming but I keep saying "You don't get it, she needs to be this way, this is who she is, how can you expect her to react or do anything different then who she is?"

I hope, that when the time comes, and my fans are yelling at me that one of my characters really needs to get their heads out of their behinds I listen.  I have been watching the fan pages for my favorite authors, I have read their blogs and I have read the threads:  the fans are getting tired of certain characters not getting their crap together - and they are WALKING AWAY FROM SERIES BECAUSE OF IT.  I would think as an author there is NOTHING more deadly then to start hearing from fans that they cannot stomach your books anymore not because of plot, slow release, or finding someone new... but because their most beloved character cannot grow and move forward.

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