real characters

I’ve been reading a lot of beginning chapters of potential novels, as a contest judge.  I found myself duplicating comments I got in the past from editors, as to why they passed on publishing my story.   Everyone is too nice, the characters make efforts to get along.  None of my fictional characters had a reason to grow or transform.  No ego issues, ergo, no story.

Even stellar writers who have mastered craft; style, voice, tension, pacing, etc. failed to engage me because of the characters on the page.  I didn’t care about the story because the character goals lacked depth, motivations were not believable, and there was no substantial conflict to overcome.

Yesterday I chatted with a former neighbor, Nancy.  Nancy sold her house on our street after becoming a widow.  The current owner bought this house when she became a widow.   I told Nancy I haven’t made an effort to befriend this younger woman because the widow stories are bit big for me.   Nancy and another friend of mine became widows in 2005 the same year my parents died.  Both of these women were four years older than me.  Both of their husbands were named, Dave.

I’ve dedicated a lot of energy learning to write nonfiction and feel this awareness of real life will enhance the conflicts I bring to my fiction.  Death creates a transformation for those of us still alive and this is why I don’t care about characters who “could die,” unless they have a dream to live.

While disappointed with the fictional characters I met this past week, I enjoyed these stories about real people:  Magnetic PersonalitiesSport FanaticsCourageous MomsRoad Warriors and the review of a “Lactating Detective”.  Real people are interesting!

Here’s the motto of a friend who is thriving years after breast cancer – if you’re a writer, please bring this motto to your fictional world:

Get busy living, or get busy dying.

About Terri Patrick
Writer of Romance and Memoir. Life is an adventure, take that journey.

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