Posted by cynthiashepp
(giveaway detail at bottom…please read post first)
Ouch, Ugh, and OMG! A Good Writer Tortures Her Characters.
I am a writer. And as much as I’d like to pretend my stories emerge from living on the African plain or from getting beaten by my stepfather or from being left at the alter (twice) or from finding an alien implant in my right, big toe…
In truth, I grew up in a small town with a loving family, married a very nice man, and although I may’ve seen an alien spacecraft once (It could’ve been!), my life is pretty normal. Read: boring. I spend many days in my jammies, writing in between doing loads of laundry. Sometimes I stare inside the refrigerator, hoping a big piece of carrot cake with cream cheese frosting materializes. This is the extent of my pain.
But just because I don’t suffer much, doesn’t mean I don’t know how to make others suffer. I do and more importantly–I like it! What’s at the heart of any successful novel?
Conflict is to novels like cream cheese is to bagels. Mmm, yummy, yummy. (Do I seem to have a cream cheese obsession to you?) Conflict turns up the heat and provides the sizzle that makes pages seem to turn on their own. So, how does an author create this conflict? Simple. She tortures her characters.
Now torture can mean lots of things besides waterboarding and pulling someone’s fingernails out–although both of those would certainly work. Anything that gets in the way of what a character wants can qualify. Here are five of my favorite ways of inflicting pain and suffering on my make-believe friends:
1. Give your character flaws. Bad temper, poor motor skills, a sex addiction, narcolepsy, smelly feet… the list is endless. Nothing hurts more than our own inadequacies.
2. Put a loved one in danger. If you’re really hard-core–kill them.
3. Betrayal. The more loyal the person was supposed to be, the more it hurts to be kicked in the nads by them.
4. Take away physical comforts and the means to get them. If not having the latest iPhone sucks, try no job, no money, no home, no food…
5. Take away psychological comforts. Dumped by the loving girlfriend. Ostracized by the supportive parents. Ignored by the understanding friends. Make your character a pariah. Smelly feet will definitely help with this.
It’s amazing how difficult this can be. I mean, some writers love their characters and hate to hurt them, but readers don’t want blue skies and kittens. They want broken hearts and blood. It’s my job to be the one nasty bitch who gives it to them.
Am I up to the task? You betcha. Pass the cream cheese and get ready for some pain.
It’s not like sixteen-year-old Nathan Terras wants to be evil. A bad boy, maybe—but not evil. Yeah, he can see auras but so what? He’d gladly trade that talent for, say, a new Mustang or a little skin time with Scarlett Johansson. That is until a near-death experience reveals he’s to become the Antichrist.
Forget vampires, werewolves, and zombies. They’re the lucky ones.
And now his enemies are waking. They’re coming for him, and they’re not interested in a friendly game of Halo. But Nathan’s developing some frightening defenses of his own. A violent power grows inside him. He’d be thankful, if only the dark energy wasn’t so addictive.
When his little brother disappears, he’ll do anything to get him back. Embracing his new identity may save his brother’s life, but Nathan could lose his own in the process. The line between good and evil begins to blur, leaving Nathan wondering which side he’s on.
C.J. Graves is NOT the Antichrist, but she thinks she babysat him once.
After growing up in NW Pennsylvania in the cold and snow, she moved to Japan to live in…more cold and snow, but she now resides in sunny North Carolina with her wonderful husband and swimming pool.
Having graduated from UNCG with a degree in Interior Architecture and Design, she soon realized she wasn’t cut out for the project management side of the business and turned to another creative love—writing. When she’s not writing or running a critique group, she enjoys beating up teenagers in her mixed martial arts class.
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