October 21, 2008: A Fearful Insight

This morning in the shower, I figured out another approach to “don’t be afraid to lose,” another way to see it.

I’m not sure what me start thinking about it, but I found myself considering a discussion that took place at my RWA chapter’s meeting on Sunday. We got to talking about being afraid to let our heroines be unlikable. I participated in the discussion — of course I did, I can’t help myself — but it didn’t resonate that powerfully, at least not until I was standing in the shower.

I realized I’ve been trapped by the same fear. I’ve been afraid to let Ilsabet be unlikable, so I haven’t let her be anything or anyone in particular. That’s made her less interesting than all the people around her, people I’ve allowed to be whoever and whatever they need to be.

Now that I know what the problem is, I just need to fix it. Piece of cake, right? Well, not so much, but don’t think that matters. I wrote on the bus tonight, revising and expanding version 422 of the opening scene (okay, that’s an exaggeration, but still…), and I think I was able to write more conflict into the scene because I wasn’t afraid to let Ilsabet be…unlikable.

We’ll see how this goes as I get further and further from this moment of insight.


2 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Teresa
    Oct 22, 2008 @ 15:55:40

    I think this fear of making our heroine unlikeable comes from being told our heroine and hero must be sympathetic. And we equate sympathetic with likeable. But we all have our bad sides, so if a character is exhibiting less than likeable behaviour the reader CAN relate to that and ultimately, I would hope, sympathize. It makes sense if we analyze it, but only if we take the time to think about it.

    Thanks for making me think about it 🙂 Good luck with that opening scene. I hear you on the number of rewrites *g*.


  2. katycooper
    Oct 22, 2008 @ 18:31:06

    One of the things I was thinking about, when I was thinking about likeability, was the people I know who’ve gotten dinged because their heroines were unlikeable. I thought then that showing your characters’ vulnerabilities can take the edge off… which is, I think, another way of saying “Make them sympathetic.”


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