Everyone Thinks the Beautiful Character is Where it’s At. It’s Actually the One with More Working Against Them.
Beautiful people in stories shovel in by the mile. After a while, none catch the attention of the reader. They’re looking for more than just a flawless face and perfect everything. They want substance. They want spark. They want something that goes beyond appearances. So, what is it? Well, sometimes it’s hard to determine. It can be something simple like a swagger and a drawl. John Wayne made this famous in his movies.
Or look at Debbie Reynold’s naivete in her Tammy movies. She was the poor girl from the swamp who wasn’t supposed to turn heads but she did and ended up winning quite a few beaus. This is why we do development for our characters. We are trying to get at that spark, to ignite the character’s path of success. By the way, I’m using screen characters at first just so you get a visual of what I’m suggesting.
The beautiful can be boring and snobbish. What’s beyond that door is refreshing and timeless. Think of Disney stories. Before they were famous movies, they were books. Bright, beautiful, beloved books. A little mermaid who came ashore to find the prince she rescued at sea. A small deer who lost his mother to a hunter’s bullet. And then at last, came Anna frightened for her sister Elsa, torn between Hans and Kristoff, learning how to grow up with the loss of her parents.
Things change. People change. But at their heart, they want a good story. A story about people who touch their lives. Who bring them joy and honesty. Who wrench their hearts and make them care. That’s the magic we’re searching for. That’s what we want to bring to the forefront again and again to win over our reader’s attention.
Dr. Seuss cleverly captured a generation of children with his dapper characters. The Cat in the Hat. Herbert and his Hoot. The Hoos in Hoo-ville. So many characters came from his pages. Not even just children’s stories fared well in Hollywood for authors. There’s S.E. Hinton’sThe Outsiders. Who doesn’t remember the Socs versus the greasers? Pony Boy’s story inspired many a youth to wear those leather jackets. Are You There God, it’s Me, Margaret made every teenage girl feel like she found an author (Judy Blume) who understood her and the moods our bodies sometimes put us through.
None of these characters are particularly beautiful. In fact, some are the downright opposite. However, they still catch our imagination. They still pull us in. James Bond came from the written page. Today, the screen would be lost without his movies. In fact, it’s funny that a lot of onscreen characters have been transferred to the pages of a book. Star Wars or Star Trek anyone? Buffy the Vampire Slayer.
The stories pass back and forth widening and narrowing as they go. Luke Skywalker might be the focus in one film, Rae another. Same with the Avengers. They rotate who the story belongs to at certain points on the spectrum. That’s why they have such a great range of characters. DC would do better to do the same. Move the focus, tell more than one story. The audience has a big attention span. You can make it work.
Except when you want to narrow in on a certain character in a story. In Sarah Maas’s epic series about The Throne of Glass for instance, there are a LOT of characters throughout the books. Everchanging, growing, falling to the wayside. Sometimes there, sometimes gone. However, the main character is Caelena Sardothien aka Aelin Galathynius. The story revolves around her at all points. Why? Because she is the Queen. Without her, the pieces don’t move.
There are other series out there where that is true too. One character pivots the action. From beginning to end, they mold the story. Their actions, their desires bring things to pass. And without them, the story would be dull indeed. So, you see. Your character doesn’t have to be the most beautiful person who ever walked the earth. Give him a limp or for goodness sakes, a mole. Make him one of us. He’ll fit right in and carry the story with honor.
Happenings: So apparently, because some idiot threw paper towels, grease rags and other such things down the toilet at the manufactured park, they say they have to penalize us all with another fee. This is getting to be routine. Every month or two they come up with a charge to add to our lot rent. Ridiculous.
The kids’ jobs have been busy. Overtime is buzzing. Sometimes there’s a downtime of a day like this weekend and then back to the grind.
Our oldest kitty passed his physical and blood work! I’ve changed their food to the Halo Sensitive Stomach Whitefish variety through Chewy. I tried the medley version through Amazon but they didn’t seem to like it. I also switched to a pate version of Halo wet food, the same flavor. Salmon seems to really make them sick so try to stay away from that.
Some links around the web you might find interesting:
- Nail Your Novel https://nailyournovel.wordpress.com/2023/04/16/nothing-new-under-the-sun-why-originality-is-always-possible/ Here’s something to think about. Around 97% of the time you ever spend with your parents will be before you are 18 years old. Maybe you’ve already heard this statistic, and apparently, there’s more than one variation. But I heard it just this week. Dave heard it first and told me. We boggled. Then, after a moment’s marveling, we thought about it properly. Of course. That period 0-18 is so intensive. It’s even obvious. But still, we were flabbergasted, and so we told friends, who marveled also, and so did we, all over again. Then we all talked ourselves through the facts. This is one of the things art can do. We all live on the same planet, and we tread through the same constants of life, and there’s nothing new under the sun, blah blah, but at the same time, there is. There are inventive people, billions of us, with language and A truly brilliant post that makes one think!
- Angel Messages https://annetterochelleaben.wordpress.com/2023/04/16/angel-messages-apr-16-2023/
- Fantasy Book Cafe https://www.fantasybookcafe.com/2023/04/women-in-sff-month-hannah-kaner/ Today’s guest is fantasy author Hannah Kaner! Her debut novel, Godkiller, became a #1 Sunday Times bestseller after its UK release earlier this year and will be published in the US on September 12, 2023. It’s described as being set in “a land where all gods have been banned, and one young woman is paid to kill those who still hide in the shadows,” but she “discovers a god she cannot kill: Skedi, a small god of white lies.” I’m thrilled that the author is here today with “Don’t damsel your fury.”
- Fiction Favorites https://johnwhowell.com/2023/04/16/views-of-the-neighborhood-fairy-trail-in-lakeway/ Today we will go to the Activity Center and walk on the Fairy Trail. This is a display by Parks and Recreation to celebrate spring. We are catered by Zaza Mediterranean of Austin, and our entertainment is Little Big Town Menu Z1. Zaza Platter (Mix) Beef, lamb, and chicken. Comes with tomato, lettuce, onion, white and hot sauce. Z2. Gyro Platter (Beef & Lamb) Comes with tomato, lettuce, onion, white and hot sauce. Z3. Beef Shawarma Platter Comes with tomato, lettuce, onion, white and hot sauce. Z4. Chicken Fajita Platter Comes with tomato, lettuce, onion, white and hot sauce. Z5. Chicken Shawarma Platter Comes with tomato, lettuce, onion, white and hot sauce. Z6. Zaza Garden Platter Falafel, grape leaves, and cauliflower. Comes with tomato, lettuce, onion, white and hot sauce. Vegetarian. Z7. Falafel Platter Tahini sauce. Comes with tomato, lettuce, onion, white and hot sauce. Vegetarian. Z8. Chicken Kabob Platter Shish tawook. 2 skewers. Comes with tomato, lettuce, onion, white and hot sauce. Z9. Lamb (Kabob) Platter 2 skewers. Comes with tomato, lettuce, onion, white and hot sauce. Z10. Kofta Kabob Platter 2 skewers. Comes with tomato, lettuce, onion, white and hot sauce. Z11. Mixed Grill Signature Platter Chicken, lamb, and Kofta. Comes with tomato, lettuce, onion, white and hot sauce. Signature platter. Too much hot sauce for me, lol.
- Fantasy Cafe https://www.fantasybookcafe.com/2023/04/women-in-sff-month-maya-deane/ Today’s guest is fantasy writer Maya Deane! Her Greek mythology–inspired debut novel, Wrath Goddess Sing, was released last year and is coming out in trade paperback on June 13, 2023. Focused on Achilles, her book is described as “drawing on ancient texts and modern archeology to reveal the trans woman’s story hidden underneath the well-known myths of The Iliad.” I’m excited she’s here today to discuss literary realism and fantasy!
- Fantasy Cafe https://www.fantasybookcafe.com/2023/04/women-in-sff-month-vida-cruz-borja/ This week’s first Women in SF&F Month guest is science fiction and fantasy author Vida Cruz-Borja! She is the author of the excellent IGNYTE Award–winning essay “We Are the Mountain: A Look at the Inactive Fantasy Protagonist,” which appears in the new essay collection Letters to a Writer of Color. Her short fiction includes “Odd and Ugly” and “Have Your #Hugot Harvested at This Diwata-Owned Café,” and she has two collections: Beyond the Line of Trees and, most recently, Song of the Mango and Other New Myths. Her latest is described as “stories woven from elements of classical myths and folklore from the Philippines and other parts of the world, as well as from visions of the modern and of the future”—and I’m thrilled she’s here today with “‘New myths’ and the people who tell them.” Interesting. New myths are created by twisting within the old ones sometimes.
- Smorgasbord Magazine https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/2023/04/16/smorgasbord-blog-magazine-podcast-poetry-birthdays-by-sally-cronin/ We have celebrated quite a few birthdays in our family in the last couple of months and here is a garland Cinquain about these special days.
- Chris the Story Reading Ape https://thestoryreadingapeblog.com/2023/04/10/monday-funnies-15/
- Fantasy Cafe https://www.fantasybookcafe.com/2023/04/women-in-sff-month-leslye-penelope/ Today’s Women in SF&F Month guest is fantasy and paranormal romance writer Leslye Penelope! She is the author of Song of Blood & Stone, which was selected as one of Time Magazine’s 100 Best Fantasy Books of All Time, and the rest of the books in the Earthsinger Chronicles, as well as Savage City, described as “a dystopian, enemies-to-lovers, portal, shifter fantasy romance.” Her latest novel, The Monsters We Defy, is a heist story described as “historical fantasy that weaves together African American folk magic, history, and romance,” and it was one of NPR’s Best Books of 2022. In addition to writing, she talks about working as a traditional and self-published author in her weekly podcast, My Imaginary Friends. I’m thrilled she’s here today to discuss fantasy writing and computer science in “When Fantasy and STEM Collides.”
- Fiction Favorites https://johnwhowell.com/2023/04/15/stream-of-consciousness-saturday-prompt-starts-with-mono/ he only sound this morning is the dignified monotone of the coffee machine, indicating the cup is ready. Feeling mononucleosis-like exhaustion from the previous week’s mayhem, the cup offers the promise of relief. A few sips bring me to the point of recognizing the silence surrounding my inner sanctum. As my interior monologue about the serenity of the place comes to a close, the intrusive sound of the Klaxon horn connected to the doorbell shatters the momentary peace. Twiggy and Lucy take up their Hounds of Baskerville impersonation while the security shutdown procedure is begun. A quick glance at the security camera screen shows the presence of a monolith on the front porch. The claymore mines are disarmed. The tower machine guns are placed on standby. The boiling oil vat is secured. The moat net retracted. The concertina wire rolled back. The trebuchet secured. The gate lifted. The locks and deadbolts reset. The front door opened. A tall box stands before me. An envelope with the words OPEN ME FIRST is taped to the front. Ripping it off and tearing it open reveals two messages. The first tells me to pull the handle marked OPEN on the box. The second is from Linda Hill and says Your Friday prompt for Stream of Consciousness Saturday is “starts with mono.” Find a word that starts with “mono” and use it in your post. Enjoy! If you want to enjoy go to Linda’s blog and read how simple it is. You will also find other
idiots’author’s versions of the prompt. Here is the link. https://lindaghill.com/2023/04/14/the-friday-reminder-and-prompt-for-socs-april-15-2023/ He sure has more exciting mornings than I do around here. Not that I’m complaining. That circus can remain at his place. Lol.
- Chris the Story Reading Ape https://thestoryreadingapeblog.com/2023/04/16/sometimes-were-the-scared-teen-other-times-the-bold-hero-how-our-writing-perspective-changes-with-each-character-guest-post-by-traci-kenworth/ For me, writing a teenage character was my first attempt at writing. I could relate to teens as I was fast approaching that age. The teens in my world didn’t deal with a world like we see now. Oh, no. It was sort of a mixture of one of those apocalyptic/survival stories. There were dinosaurs as well as things the government had let off (hey, it was the eighties, after all, and the Cold War was fresh on our minds), and of course, instead of adults being in charge of things: the teens were the leads. Crazy world, huh? Well, it was filled with all my favorite things at the time. And I admit, heavily influenced by the shows I watched on TV. I didn’t realize it at the time but on that training ground as I think of it now: I was learning to blend things together. Genres crossed with no problem. Things publishers at the time were saying were a no-go, in these days, have become more consistent. You take what you want to be in your story and run with it. Make it make sense. Or at least, make us believe it’s possible. Graduating to more adult characters didn’t take long. After all, what teen isn’t itching for the freedom they think adulthood brings? I wrote scripts based on the soap opera-type shows popular at the time like Days of Our Lives or General Hospital. I invented my own soap world and populated it with as many characters as I could think of. Couldn’t resist to toot my own horn.
- Entertaining Stories https://coldhandboyack.wordpress.com/2023/04/15/resting-and-making-an-odd-discovery/ I have no intention of cracking one of my manuscripts this weekend. I want to recover from my recent adventures, and learned I have to report for jury duty on Monday morning. What I wanted to do was view some fun movies about the places I visited. I wound up renting Close Encounters of the Third Kind and enjoyed the heck out of it. It’s been decades since I saw it and it was a blast. Wasn’t precisely what I wanted. Last week I visited Little Bighorn, Devil’s Tower, Mt. Rushmore, Deadwood, Salem, Lexington, and Concord. Passed through parts of Boston, too. Aside from those, we drove through a bunch of country that could be considered as the Last of the Mohican territory. Basically, I wanted something historical.
- Story Empire https://storyempire.com/2023/04/14/birth-order-and-character-development-the-lastborn/ Hello, Story Empire friends, Gwen with you today. Together we’ll focus on birth order as it relates to character development. We’ve considered the traits of the firstborn, linked here. And we’ve reviewed traits of the middleborn. Here’s a link to that post. Today, our target is the lastborn. Before we dive in, let’s review a few basic points. (1) Every family is unique, and multiple factors affect our development. Divorce, remarriage, adoption, gender, and location are just a few of those factors. (2) Importantly, if there are three or more years between siblings, the child may be a middle child but have traits similar to the firstborn. I’ll share a family story and hopefully offer some clarity about character traits. I’m the eldest of seven, and there are nine years between me and the youngest – a brother. One day, six of us were inside the house when my little brother crawled in from the yard and sobbed that his leg was broken. My other two brothers immediately responded, “No it isn’t. Stop whining.” The youngest tearfully protested, “It is! I heard it pop.” By then, mom came into the room and checked his leg. She turned to me and said to watch the kids. “I’m taking him to the doctor. I think it might be broken.” And, sure enough, it was. The lastborn in a large family can feel that no one listens to them. They might feel inferior, because everyone is bigger and more capable. But on the plus side, parents often have a special attachment to their youngest. Researchers claim that lastborns have some of the following traits when they are adults:
- Books and Such https://teripolen.com/2023/04/13/the-jump-by-brittney-morris-bookreview-ya-contemporary-adventure/ From the acclaimed author of SLAY and The Cost of Knowing comes an action-driven, high-octane novel about a group of working-class teens in Seattle who join a dangerous scavenger hunt with a prize that can save their families and community. Influence is power. Power creates change. And change is exactly what Team Jericho needs. Jax, Yas, Spider, and Han are the four cornerstones of Team Jericho, the best scavenger hunting team in all of Seattle. Each has their own specialty: Jax, the puzzler; Yas, the parkourist; Spider, the hacker; and Han, the cartographer. But now with an oil refinery being built right in their backyard, each also has their own problems. Their families are at risk of losing their jobs, their communities, and their homes. So when The Order, a mysterious vigilante organization, hijacks the scavenger hunting forum and concocts a puzzle of its own, promising a reward of influence, Team Jericho sees it as the chance of a lifetime. If they win this game, they could change their families’ fates and save the city they love so much. But with an opposing team hot on their heels, it’s going to take more than street smarts to outwit their rivals. I’ve read and enjoyed two previous books by this author, so it was a no-brainer to request her newest release from NetGalley. Team Jericho has been together for several years as a scavenger hunting team. They’re very good at what they do, and each member brings a specific skill to the table. Being a fan of puzzles, I really enjoyed that aspect of the story and watching the characters work together to figure them out. The characters are very distinct and diverse (this is only the second book I’ve read with a nonverbal character), which makes the multiple POV chapters easy to keep up with. Each of these characters’ families are threatened in some way by the new oil refinery, so winning this competition that promises power is important to them. The plot moves along at a brisk pace as the characters race from one clue to another – try to keep up. As with all this author’s books, several important and timely issues are tackled – gentrification and racism to name a couple in this one.