Making Characters Real
By Vivian Arend
Hello all, I’m Vivian Arend taking over the blog for Delilah today, and I wanted to chat about what makes characters real—but don’t worry. This isn’t a “how to” for writers; it’s maybe more of a rant from the reader side of my brain.
There are the clichés about different kinds of heroes and heroines found in romance novels. You know the ones I’m talking about—the rich millionaire who’s just gotta have his innocent virgin secretary. Right now, on the desk, because he’s so domineering and so masculine he makes your eyebrows ache. She’s beautiful and sweet, and even though she’s not supposed to be, she’s secretly in love with him and somehow will find the backbone to a) seduce him b) want to raise his secret baby alone without any $$ support c) clandestinely save his business/ family estate/ camel sales empire from within using her super sekrit secretary skills.
Okay, honestly? I’ve read a few of those, and enjoyed them, but after a while it’s like eating Pringles potato chips. There’s no flavor and the only thing you’re waiting for is the crunch. I have no problems with stories about any kind of people and any kind of background, but there’s something that appeals to me even more about a character I can relate to and would want to be friends with.
So yes, a school teacher, or a sheriff. An accountant, a baker, a chef, a dishwasher. I could go through the alphabet for ordinary, everyday professions and find the kind of people I want to read about—and yet that’s still not enough.
What makes them real? Especially if they are partially imaginary—i.e., shifters or a part of a paranormal story? I can’t personally turn into a wolf (I’ve tried—nothing happens) but I can totally relate to some characters who can. And the difference is—what they do, how they react to situations is real. They make mistakes, but the mistakes aren’t the “if we’d sit down and chat over a coffee this would be fixed” kind. They apologize when they’re wrong. Sometimes they are goofy, and sometimes they cry, but when it comes down to it, they act a little like I would if I were thrust into their situation.
Why would I want to read about people who are like me? Isn’t reading a way to escape life and fade into a fantasy world for a bit? Yes, and no. Reading, to me, is also a way to learn, and if I’m connecting with a character, for whatever reason, I can also learn from their mistakes. I can see their strengths and maybe, just maybe, there will moments that the thing they do that isn’t my normal response—maybe I’ll learn a new reaction that will make my life better.
All from reading a book? Maybe not always—there’s time for sheer Pringles reading—but most of the time I like my romance with a hearty dollop of real. Makes me cheer for the characters, and makes me happy inside.
So what about you? Where do you stand on the reality level for your characters? Do you like them to be someone who you could be friends with, or the more ‘fantasy-out there-makes me dream’ type?
Vivian Arend writes lighthearted paranormal, contemporary red-hot cowboys, and everything in between, all with characters that she’d usually like to go and have a coffee with. Her latest book is out today: Whirlpool—with sexy merfolk shifters who live in a quiet little seaside town, and an ordinary archeologist who falls in love with them.
Soft shoulders and dangerous curves…
Braden can’t deny he’s always wanted Chelsea, but getting involved wouldn’t be fair. She has college and big dreams ahead of her—he has no desire to leave Jaffrey’s Cove. Plus, there’s the fact merfolk women often take more than one lover. Share her? Not in this lifetime.
When Chelsea’s plans for the future fall apart, the only bright spot remaining is Sheriff Braden Marley. She’s been angling for a shot at the gentle giant’s heart—and the rest of him—for a long time. Except he not only holds her at a maddening arm’s length, he somehow manages to keep other men away, too.
Enter Jamie Powell, a human marine archeologist who’s in town for a cataloging project. His instant chemistry with Chelsea inspires her to try a sexy new tactic: make Braden jealous enough to stop dragging his feet and start leaving his shoes under her bed.
The ensuing storm generates a boatload of complications none of them saw coming. A forbidden attraction no amount of merfolk magic can erase. And the danger that their secrets could be exposed to the outside world…
Warning: Seductive shimmering lights, a sexy interlude on the strip club floor, mysterious Spanish lovers, and a trio caught in an eddy of intense sexual attraction. Swim at your own risk.
Read an excerpt