Monday, June 27, 2011

Not Captain Kirk and A Lil' Morgan in my Writing

Spoiler Alert: I'm not talking about Captain Morgan here... has been amazing and busy. Two weekends ago, Vicki and I went to Crested Butte for the Crested Butte Writers' Conference (huge Shout-Out to all our new friends). OMG, the town was such a surprise. Quaint and haunted... Need I say more?
My manuscript, "Love? Please!" placed third in the final round of their contest, the Sandy. And GREAT things came out of the weekend.
I decided to change my writing name to Marne Ann Kirk, but I'll talk about that and Branding another time.
And this last weekend, I spent four nights partying with my honey, Lady Antebellum, Little Big Town, Craig Morgan, Sawyer Brown, Alan Jackson, and two thousand of their closest friends.
So, what I have NOT done for the last two weeks?
Write much :-(
But THAT isn't what I want to talk about.
I had one of those thinking "aha moments" while drooling over Craig Morgan in concert, and THIS is what I wanna know...
Are your characters the real deal? Do they have those qualities that make them human? Make them characters readers can relate to?
Craig Morgan is an incredible entertainer, and as close to a real-life superhero as I'll likely ever meet! (He saved two children from a fire, because he was there and it needed done)
But, and here's the part I started asking myself questions about with my characters, his heroic qualities are revealed, not by his current profession, but in the little things he does and says in his daily life.
The day of his concert, he spent time quite a while with a little girl from Grand Junction who has cancer. Then he brought the girl on stage and sang a song to her (doesn't that just melt your heart?). During his performance he spoke about the men and women serving in our military, and how thankful he was for their service (yet he didn't talk about his own service, which includes something like nine tours to Iraq). He talked about the love of his life, his wife of 23 years (and sang his newest song, not yet released, but written for her...). His song, "This Ain't Nothin'," came out after he and his band went to perform in (I believe) Oklahoma, and ended up elbows-deep in Tornado aftermath cleanup instead. Why? Because it needed done (and then he wrote a song about the experience).
My point is, I learned so much about this man from what others said about him or from what he said while extolling the strengths of others.
And those little details make me feel like I know him, like I can relate to him, like I can connect to him.
Do your characters have that connectivity? The little details that make the reader feel what I felt?
Do you think the little details are vital to your protagonist? What about your antagonist?


  1. Good point.

    I think what a character says and thinks about others tell us a lot. But, what other characters say and think about them can tell us even more.

  2. Quit it; you're making me cry!

    Yes, I think what our characters do outside the overall plot is what makes them hero's. I do try to put in the small details about both my hero and villian.

    My world isn't black and white, and neither are my characters, so expecially with my antag, I do need to add what appear to be inconsequential acts to build a character that you know is a bad bad man, but you actually like or at least understand him. When it comes to my protag, I want him to not only shine with his prescribed role, but also to "live" his role throughout the entire story, in places the reader doesn't expect.

    I agree with Mike too; what the other characters have to say about the hero, and how they interract with him is important.


  3. I try to make my characters real, for the protagonist to have endearing weaknesses and the not-so-nice guy to have a good quality or two. Whether or not a reader can connect with our characters is partly because of their own experiences and what they bring to the reading table. All we can do as writers is create characters who are three-dimensional and hope our readers care about them.

  4. I was thinking about this just yesterday while watching the movie "Die Hard". The main character was originally envisioned as a completely bad-ass action superhero, which would have made it yet another generic action movie. Instead, Bruce Willis' character was changed to someone who shows fear, gets hurt, makes mistakes, and -- most importantly to your point -- buys a huge teddy bear to take home to his kid. Making him human made the movie.

  5. Very inspirational post. Really enjoyed it.

  6. Great thoughts. It's interesting what you can learn about a person and you've made an excellent comparison creating our own characters. Thank you.

  7. Thanks everyone, for your insights and comments. Mark: I LOVE Bruce Willis' character in that movie, for those very reasons. And Donna, I so agree the antagonist has to have qualities the reader can in some way connect to. And I do love being surprised by the little things the protag does.
    Whatever you can do to, as Susan says, make the reader care.
    That's part of what makes writing so magical...