Friday, May 16, 2014

Celebrate & Revision Blues

Well ... the happy reunion between me and my WIP is on the rocks.  CP feedback on the first four chapters has been pretty good ... Except ... they like the "bad" sister, find her entertaining, and enjoy her voice -- despite the fact she has zero morals!  However, the "good" sister -- you know, the heroine -- got an ambivalent, we're-not-connecting-to-her response.  Naturally, the polite response has been translated by my exaggeration-prone brain as:
"We hate her."
"She sucks."
"My grocery list is more exciting."
"Is that who we're supposed to root for?"  *snort*
"Dull as dishwater and twice as smelly."

So I'm now shopping for a new heroine.  Anyone got an extra one lying around???  And I'm reminding myself of this great quote:





CELEBRATING THE SMALL THINGS

This week I'm celebrating:

My friend Kim Graff is giving
In addition to being one of my CPs, Kim is a great writer, free-lance editor, 
designs covers and swag,
and is an intern at PS Literary Agency.
Just click for info on where to send your query for your
 It doesn't get better than that!

Do you think writing a "bad" person is easier than writing a "good" one?



This post is part of VikLit's blog hop, Celebrate the Small Things. To be part of this blog hop, all you have to do is follow the link and put your name on the Mr.Linky list, and then be sure to post every Friday about something you're grateful  for that week.  It can be about writing or family or school or general life.  This is the funnest and easiest blog hop ever! 

66 comments:

Lara Schiffbauer said...

Yes, for me, writing a bad person is so much easier because you can do all kinds of stuff with them and there really aren't limits. Heroes have boundaries and it's tough because we (at least, I) often equate good with boring. Maybe that's why writing advice says to give the hero a flaw. It makes them more interesting and maybe more fun to write. :)

Suzanne Furness said...

Sorry you've got the revision blues, I think writing a bad character is probably easier. With good characters it is maybe too easy to go 'too sickly sweet' and cliche! Put the ms aside for a day or two and then take another look and dive back in. Good luck and happy writing :)

Heather Holden said...

Aw, sorry to hear you're dealing with the revision blues right now! I can definitely see how it'd be a big blow to discover your heroine just isn't connecting with readers. I wouldn't necessarily say a "bad" person is easier to write, but I do believe it's easier to accidentally make a "good" character perfect. Perfection isn't relatable, but flaws are, so while baddies have those in spades, it can be easy to forget that heroes need some, too.

Kate Larkindale said...

I think you and I are in the same boat, but I haven't even given my book to CPs to tell me they don't like my MC! I just know nobody will.... Bad guys do tend to be easier to write because they are usually a little more fun.

Kate Larkindale said...

I think you and I are in the same boat, but I haven't even given my book to CPs to tell me they don't like my MC! I just know nobody will.... Bad guys do tend to be easier to write because they are usually a little more fun.

Kate Larkindale said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
S.K. Anthony said...

Oh the awesome stage of revision blues . . . I'm sure I'll be in that stage soon too. I'm currently way too busy to even start (I want to give it the time it deserves), but I'll be there with you. Well, actually by then you'll be out writing an awesome—much more lovable than the naughty sister—heroine. Yes, yes you will.

messymimi said...

For some reason, it seems to be easier to give the "bad guy" a compelling personality. It's too easy to let the hero/heroine be too good.

Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

Did they suggest something to help them connect to her? Besides 'we hate her and she must die now?'
It will be all right!

Ava Quinn said...

Time to give your heroine a quirk or bad habit or flaw or two. Or tone down bad sister so she doesn't steal every scene she enters.

Good luck!

mshatch said...

I agree with Ava, make your good character not so good or give her some interesting habits or hobbies. You could also have your bad character do something more despicable that will make your readers like her less.



I just started revisions, too, and holy cow do I have my work cut out for me!

Melissa said...

Oh, man, have I ever been there.

One thing that can help is to ask for specifics, get your CPs to give you examples of things that could improve the story (character) for them. If there's a particular scene(s) they're commenting on, ask them how they would have liked to see her behave. Sometimes getting that kind of narrowed-down feedback can spark some ideas.

Good luck. :)

Robin said...

I would focus on the GOOD thing to come out of this... and that is ONE of your characters has a really strong voice. You will find the voice for your MC (because you did it for the bad sister).

Emma Adams said...

I think "bad" characters are often more interesting to write/ read about, but I agree with some of the comments above - maybe give the heroine some quirks or flaws, and possibly tone down the "bad" character. It's tricky when it comes to subjective things like this! I'm contemplating a total rewrite of one of my WIP's, which should be...interesting! Good luck! :)

Emma Adams said...

I think "bad" characters are often more interesting to write/ read about, but I agree with some of the comments above - maybe give the heroine some quirks or flaws, and possibly tone down the "bad" character. It's tricky when it comes to subjective things like this! I'm contemplating a total rewrite of one of my WIP's, which should be...interesting! Good luck! :)

Michael Di Gesu said...

HI, Lexa,

Don't despair ... The bad guys are always more likable in stories. They're the fire, passion, and center of the good person's journey...

Had to laugh about the laundry list being more exciting.

Perhaps give your heroine a flaw...something dark, that she needs to overcome. Even the best people have dark sides...

I just finished my LAST revision... and far more than seven, I assure you... THREE years of them! I've lost count...

And now I have a query that I believe works well. AND I am thrilled to know your friend KIM is doing query critiques... HOW AWESOME! I'll fire it over to her in a few!

Thanks Lexa!

Tyrean Martinson said...

Yes, sometimes it is, because they usually have this rich backstory about why they are the way they are.
That's what I struggle with in my own writing of my MC - how to give her a rich enough backstory to make her interesting and yet, still good.
Free Critiques are definitely worthy of celebrating!

Teresa Powell Coltrin said...

I think being a bad person is easier than being good. :) I don't know if I think writing a bad type of character is easier or not. It's definitely more fun.

I love free stuff.

Stephanie Faris said...

That's happened to me before--great idea, wrong characters. Sometimes you can repair it by simply refining a few sentences here and there to add some likability, but sometimes it just doesn't work at all and you have to start over.

Stephen Hayes said...

I think it's much easier creating a villain than a good character, especially if the villain isn't a cartoon character but is riddled with realistic flaws.

Susan Flett Swiderski said...

On the enormous plus side, it sounds like you have a team of FANTASTIC crit partners: they're obviously telling you what you need to hear to make your book stronger, instead of what you WANT to hear to feed your ego. That's beyond priceless. With their feedback, I'm sure you'll make your heroine a much stronger and more likable character.

Sherry Ellis said...

Revisions are tough. It always seems like they'll never get done!

That's a great offer from your friend!

Andrew Leon said...

It's not your heroine; it's the whole nice "guys" finish last thing.

L.G. Keltner said...

Good luck with revisions! I find bad characters can be easier to write than good ones. If we make a character too good, too moral, they can come across as bland to some. They still have to be flawed and human, and finding the right balance isn't easy.

DL Hammons said...

YES! Writing a bad person is so much easier than writing a good one. Experienced the same issue myself. What I find helps is picking a flaw that the good person has, and concentrate on how to pick at it until it bleeds! :)

Cathrina Constantine said...

A bad person is much easier for me to write and more interesting. Even in movies people like to hate the bad person...

Al Diaz said...

I think writing bad people is more fun and easier than writing the good ones. Just don't make your good one way too good or she will be difficult to connect with. I agree with those who advice about giving her flaws as well. That make characters more human. I would suggest to check Moody Writing. He has awesome articles about character building and how to make people connect with your hero.
I laughed too at my grocery list being more exciting. I've met such characters, hahahaha.
Dragon Hugs!

Diana Wilder said...

Ouch! revising when you're not sure...or you hope THEY aren't sure and it's fine...or - ah, heck! they're right. Time to think things through. ...of course(you think) that gives you an excuse to write more...

I suspect it'll be better than ever.
Diana at About Myself By Myself

T.F. Walsh said...

I have the exact same thoughts when I get any comment saying one of my characters aren't working... it's hard. And yes, bad characters are easier because they are excusable in their behavior, but with a good character there's so much to balance - making them likeable, sympathetic, exciting, fun, etc. And it's not easy... But I know you can do this... you're an awesome writer and your stories rock:)

Kim Lajevardi said...

It's so difficult to hear that people aren't connecting to characters you know inside and out. I agree with many of the comments above, though, a flaw can change so much. Personality quirks can be interesting, but they're not alone in their intrigue: I find physical limitations or emotional struggles to be interesting avenues to explore the depths of what appears very stable and responsible on the surface. They also allow for characters to have mountains to climb, even if they are within their own minds.

Beverly Stowe McClure said...

Just when you think you've got it right, somebody shows you you're dreaming. :) I think bad guys are easier to write than good guys. There's something appealing about a bad guy/girl. Can't explain it.
The free query critique sounds good.
Hang in there. You'll get the heroine just right. You did before.

Cathy Keaton said...

I can relate! The first time my CPs got back to me on how much they loathed a main character I wrote a while ago, it crushed me. I have since abandoned that story, since they didn't really like anyone else, either. But, that was for the best.

In my current WIP, I was not really liking my main character on my own. She was just boring, flat. Since that old critique, I've been way better at being objective about my own work, so I saw, after a while, that my MC was just not cutting it. I decided to look to classic literature for inspiration. Low and behold--that worked! I love her now, since she's like a famous heroine from classic literature who has been loved for generations.

Good luck with everything! Getting your characters to be interesting is like trying to find the perfect-fitting bra. I'm lucky when it actually happens. I think it's great that you have a villain character that already works so well! ;) Keep working with your MC and you'll get her to click one day!

Jeff Chapman said...

Maybe you could transform the bad sister into an anti-heroine? Of course, that might require even more revising. : )

Rhonda Albom said...

Liking the bad character doesn't mean they are cheering for her. :)

Sarah E. Albom said...

I always like writing sarcastic people, because they're witty and entertaining. Maybe try giving your protagonist a mysterious secret, that she will only reveal at the most dangerous moment in the story. Hmm, probably too cliché...

DMS said...

Bad characters have such strong personalities and evoke strong feelings in us. I know your heroine will speak to you and tell you a little more about her to make her just right. :) Best of luck.

As I am in the middle of revisions- the quote was perfect. So true! :)
~Jess

Shah Wharton said...

I was surprised how many people loved the darker guy in my WIP, and the side characters - friends of my heroine. So I understand that. I think we write more words about the main characters so there's more room to go wrong, or more of the character to be bored with or dislike. Whereas the bi characters or less featured characters usually get characterisation through cute one liners or other forms of repartee or angst. It's snappier and more entertaining. And I do think we prefer the naughty, less 'good' characters. They are more interesting to read about. It's a mare!

Happy celebrations!

shahwharton.com

Milo James Fowler said...

Funny you mention this. I just finished revising my post-apocalyptic fantasy, and the chapters narrated by the villain...were the easiest to edit. The chapters narrated by the hero took a lot more work, and I still need to make him more interesting.

Birgit said...

Don't let your brain think what others might be thinking-bad path just keep digging:) Oh yes I think a bad person is easier to write as we can write things of things we would never do but we can get it out of our system by writing about it. Even actors say they love the juicy roles of the bad person. It would be harder to write about the good girl but I know you can do it. I think we all think of a good girl as inherently boring when they can have great comedic timing, kick ass and can still make a mean chocolate cake:) Of course I am not a writer by trade but it makes sense to me. Good luck and you will revisit, re-edit, revise and all that stuff writers do until you are "happy" with it

Liz Fichera said...

I LOVE that Crichton quote. So damn true...

Kimberly said...

I definitely think writing a bad person is easier (for me). The Crichton quote is great!

Joylene Nowell Butler said...

Dang, I agree with everyone. I hate being predictable. Haha. Well, at least there's this: raising a good child is easier than raising a bad one.

Medeia Sharif said...

I've had CP's dislike my MC. Revising always turns that around.

Elise Fallson said...

I had a similar issue with my male characters. People liked the secondary male character over the lead love interest.... it's hard to get the balance right. For me, it's just more fun writing a "bad" character, maybe give your mc a few flaws that can add pepper to her character....??? Good luck Lexa, I know you'll get through this!

Michelle Wallace said...

Your opening line made me think of these Neil Diamond lyrics:
"Love on the rocks ain't no surprise
Pour me a drink,
And I'll tell you some lies.."

But I'm sure it's temporary - you'll make a plan...

Jennifer Hawes said...

I totally think a bad character is more fun to write! I'm just weird like that. Don't give up. What a great quote. Find it within you, pull it out and write the best MC ever!

cleemckenzie said...

Sometimes it is easier to write a baddie than a goodie. I hated/loved Cruella Deville. I can't even remember the good characters in that movie. In Hunger Games, I do like Katniss, but President Snow is always present when I think about that story.

I think this is because we all have that "dark" side in us and since we can't let it roam free, we embrace the badness in those characters we love to hate.

I have about ten "good" characters on the cutting room floor. You're welcome to any of them. They suck, too.

Gina Stoneheart said...

Your heroine will gravitate toward you, Lexa... I'm sure of it! I know critiques are hard to take and rewrites, well, they are even harder. But you summed it best in the quote you shared so I know you won't beat yourself up over this=) I will be sending you some positive wave flow to get the musings going!

Catherine Stine said...

Maybe make the "good" sister a little mischievous and the bad sister a little bit good in some way? Less black and white?

Lynda R Young said...

Definitely writing a bad/mean character is easier because their flaws make them interesting. The challenge to writing good/nice characters is finding the flaws. They can't be all good or they come across as dull. It's one of those literary quirks.

Elizabeth Seckman said...

Maybe give your good girl a quirk, or a little bit of badness? Sometimes the good guys are just too good to be true or relate with.

And yes, sometimes the bad guys are easier to write because you can take larger liberties, whereas writing the good guys- you take too many liberties and make them unlikeable.

Lady Lilith said...

Sounds like you hit a minor road bump. I am sure when you create your heroine, it will be an amazing character.

Carol Kilgore said...

I feel your pain. I've produced more than my share of dull heroines. I hope I finally have them all out of my system. Fingers crossed....

Jocelyn Rish said...

I'm often drawn to the 'bad' characters - whether I'm reading or watching movies/TV. They are usually more entertaining, and while I'll usually root for the good guy, I enjoy the bad guy much more. I think it's because I'm drawn to their "I don't care-ed-ness."

Tammy Theriault said...

You want a new heroine?? Write me in babe!!

Ms Misantropia said...

That quote seems to be very true. I suck at rewrites so I never get anywhere. I get so bored reading any story many times, even my own...

Zoe Byrd said...

when my kid was younger he was always attracted to the villains and I could never understand it. And then I asked him about it and he said because they always gets to the really fun stuff and there's never any real consequences until the end and when you're a kid you don't foresee the consequences so you think they're getting away with it and how cool is that?

Crystal Collier said...

I don't know that a bad person is easier to write, but they're funner to writer for sure. So I'm thinking, give your MC a couple quirks and check out her motivations, eh? See if maybe she can't want something a little off-color or unique. Good luck!

D Biswas said...

That quote is heavy, and it is worth its weight in gold :)

Good things to celebrate!

Nigel G. Mitchell said...

You know,the same thing happened to my WIP but in reverse. I have a "good" sister and a "bad" sister (not really, but they have opposite personalities so that's my shorthand for them) and I planned to kill off the good sister and make the bad one the heroine, just as a switcheroo. But when I started writing, I discovered the good sister came out more appealing than I expected and the bad sister is harder to like than I thought, so I'm keeping both alive. But I think the bad sister has a character arc that makes her more compelling. Evil is interesting.

Nigel G. Mitchell said...

Oh, and one tip I read that helped was to give the character an inner personality kind of hidden from the world. So my "good" sister has a hidden dark side, and I gave her a motivation to rebel against the perfect image people around her want her to be. That made her more interesting to write, and hopefully read.

TBM said...

Why is it easier to write the bad characters and hard to create likable good ones? Best of luck to you

Rawknrobyn.blogspot.com said...

I was going to write the same response as TBM. Villains are much easier to create. Good characters, not so much. They are boring, by definition. Is the key to make them have weird quirks? I don't know, but I'm sure you'll find your way, Lexa.

LD Masterson said...

Well, sure. Bad is always more fun than good. Until the chip are down. Maybe your heroine just needs a bad habit or two. Maybe a little snark around the edges for readers to connect with. All is not lost.

Annalisa Crawford said...

Sometimes the bad guy is the one we connect with more, because they seem more real. I hope you manage to round out your heroine - don't give up on her totally. Perhaps the story just wants to go in a slightly different direction?

Kelly Hashway said...

I think some people, like me, fall for secondary characters. I tend to like them more than the MC for some reason.

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