Thursday, April 22, 2010

On Assassinated Medieval Women

I did it. I killed her.

I knocked off my heroine because I didn't like her. My ms is currently sans heroine. Joanne and Janet pointed out that actually, a romance needs a heroine. I assured them one would arise from the ashes.

Alas, no ashes were involved.

So I looked to some of the Masters. One doesn't confer with the mistresses because such ladies don't usually spend their spare time writing novels. At least I have never heard of one doing that sort of thing. I thought they painted their bedrooms red and did their nails.

I digress.

The first writer I heard on the subject of characters was W.O. Mitchell. "Write what you know", he said. Alright for him to say. He grew up in Weyburn and none of my characters came from Weyburn and none had ever seen the wind. I taught in Weyburn and I didn't see it either. Who has seen the wind? It wasn't Elinor or I.

I digress.

Frankly, I don't know much about living in castles. It would be a mere pas de qua to fall in love with a hunk. It's not going to happen though. I am 68 and I snore. So, no hunk; I must depend on Husband. But,I just can't see him riding off to behead the neighbours with a broad sword, at least not during the NHL playoffs. I can't see him placed on the hall table and allowing me to sew up dreadful wounds with my sewing kit (no anesthetic) while he lies there without saying a word. Most medieval hunks do that, whereas Husband, I assure you, would run from the room screaming for Dr. Surkan.

Mitchell was no help.

Donald Maass is the last word in experts on this kind of thing or so one would believe. He sells books to publishers, so that makes him an expert in my book, um, mind. However, he requires a character in the first place so that a writer can then make said character larger than life. Sans heroine, I didn't get much help from him.

Many of you have said that your charcter tells you all about themselves and therefore, they are a breeze to put down on paper. That's part of the problem. Elinor was a bore and you know bores are boring. She just rode around boring people. And Hunk was no help.

Last resort: Vanessa Grant. She uses pme and pmf. All romance writers shorten everything into just first letters and then I have to phone someone and ask what they mean. Wip had me going for awhile.

Here's me digressing again.

Anyway, Grant has several ways of doing this. One is to start with the question: what is his/her personality? Well, if I knew that, I wouldn't need to read up on forming a personality would I?

Under that bit of news, she has two columns for each character. One column lists relationships and the other about roles. Zebadiah's parents need caring for even after they are dead. His mother forever needs bailing her out of problems and, with resignation, he expects she never will be able to do anything for herself. His father is dead but his business still needs caring about, and so on through siblings, friends, employees. Zebadiah is a very busy man. And then along comes Misty. She is insecure and doesn't trust anyone. She has a whole list of relationships and roles too. And clearly there is a major conflict between them. They don't make me care but Zebadiah spends twenty chapters caring for her and her problems. By the way, she is scared of his house.

Next chapter: Grant offers eleven topics and the reader/writer is to write down ten things about each character for each topic. Some topics are: ten people she loves, ten people who love her, ten regrets, ten dreams and so on. Whoa! There are only eight characters in my book. And, if a guy is about to skewer her with a sword, she hasn't time to go through the list of ten people she loves and ten who love her. Obviously, he is one who doesn't love her, nor she him. The other eighteen points don't matter at the moment. She might work in a couple of regrets before the deed is done, but that's all.

Now what? Assuming your heroine isn't speaking to you, how do you build a character to love and not murder?


Helena said...

connie, it's amazing how much info can be imparted through digressions! Also by using humour.

You've taken a fascinating look at some of the threads of discussion that have been floating around in recent posts and comments. Obviously, our characters must not be bland (read boring), we must care about them (love 'em or hate 'em), and whether we like it or not, we must be prepared to do a profile so that we know them intimately. Otherwise, how will we know what dialogue to put in their mouths, even if it's "merely" a two word death gasp. Those two words have to be relevant.

You raise good points, connie, in such an imaginative way!

article said...

I agree that Connie has done an amazing job using digressions. You definitely have a good sense of humor. I admire your honesty and by not being Ms. Know it All.
fantasy swords

Joanne Brothwell said...

Oh Dear!
I feel like a murderer! Yikes, I hope it was a good decision Connie! I feel a little guilty.

But hey - way to take bold action!

Heather said...

perhaps your dead character has a so far unknow identical twin who lucked out and got all the good qualities and she will be revealed and take over...

as a reader, I would never know when the author faced this situation, because by the time the book is in print he or she has worked out a solution.

Karyn Good said...

Now what? Assuming your heroine isn't speaking to you, how do you build a character to love and not murder?

That's a good question, Connie. And I wish I could shed some light on your dilemma. But never fear, the answer, or should I say heroine, will come to you.

Thanks for the chuckles!

connie said...

Thanks Helena

Instead of raising good points though, shouldn't I be raising the dead?

Ah, the profile....

Now you have me wondering. What two words would constitute a good death gasp?

connie said...


Thanks for joining prairie chicks. Come by often.

Thank you for your comments.

I had a look at your site. I will be back. Husband has a yen for an antique gun over the fireplace.

connie said...


You mustn't feel guilty! She was a done dinner before you knew I had done her in.

It was your prompt that has made me look into either reviving her in an exciting new form or creating a new heroine.

I didn't have this much trouble giving birth to a live one.

connie said...


What a great idea! I'll check amongst the forest trees and see if she hadn't dragged a twin sister along, who got so bored that she hid.

If so, I'll find her


connie said...


Thanks for the encouragement! She had best come along pretty quickly
as the story isn't making much headway without her.