02 December 2009

"He's Such A Character"

Have you ever said that about one of your pets? Or of a child? Or someone so precocious that's all you can think of to describe them?

If there's one way to describe sweet baby boy Roi, that's it. He's a character. With a gleam in his eyes and the wild thrill of puppydom, all of life is an adventure. He wants to play, to feel the wind in his ears, to gnaw the world to splinters, and sleep only when he collapses. With his own unique sense of humor, fears, needs, and desires, he definitely is own "person", as we talked about on Monday.

There were times when this little puppy drove me crazy. He wouldn't listen and kept chewing on the furniture. He started playing with the bell he rings so he could go outside, and if I didn't take him, he'd bark and whine. But he didn't have to do any business. He just wanted to eat the leaves.

But even in the chaos, there were moments where he was completely adorable. Like the sweet kisses he gave me when I picked him up to take him outside. Like how he let me cuddle with him right before I put him away for the night. Like how he'd randomly turn and look at the television, then tilt his head as different images appeared on screen as if he were really watching it. Or the times he looked at me simply with such a beautiful combination of trust, innocence, and humility. I find that expression often in animals, especially dogs. I think it's what draws me to them.

But I had to look for those moments. Those were the events that made everything worth it, the moments when he became sweet once again.

Have you ever looked for the human, vulnerable side of your characters--particularly your antagonists? What makes them click? What makes them cry? Have you ever felt sympathy for them?

I had an interesting experience writing and editing the book I just finished revising. In short, I fell in love with my antagonist. Her actions made me so angry because she was so wrong, but when I looked at her motivation, my heart broke for her. This character is so misguided and full of grief--and she doesn't know why. Her actions are a direct result of her genuine and beautiful love for certain individuals in her life, unfortunately it caused more pain than any other conflict in the story. Why? Because it came from her. At first, I hated her. But the more she opened her heart to me, the more I understood her. The more I identified with her. And it was those pauses, the sweet, vulnerable moments that drew me to her. After walking through her story with her, I want all of my antogonists to be as real to me as this lady.

Have you looked at your antagonists and seen more than their mean side? What makes them tick? Are they human--real "characters"?

The face of a ferocious antogonist. Notice the underbite. Grrr.

And now, a super sweet moment:

See Y'all Friday!


  1. How cute he is!

    Your post made me think about my "learning novel" as I fondly call it. The one I've been working on for 5 years.

    I like everything about my protagonist. Maybe that's what is missing. She doesn't have any "faults" yet.



  2. Oh, I just can't resist that face!!! Can I take him home for a little bit? LOL

    Susan Elizabeth Phillip's writes some really great romances where I absolutely despise the hero or heroine, but then she peels away layers of their character and why they are who they are and my the middle I'm rooting for them.

  3. I always wonder about the bad guy, and feel a certain tug at my heart to see them become complete. A writer who can master this really shines to the reader I think. It's good to be bad, but better to make the bad good.

  4. I've been writing comical stuff lately so no antagonist). I needed a break from ickiness for a spell.

    But you're right, creating a bad guy is sort of a love-hate thing, isn't it?

  5. Aww, cutie pics. :-) I'm trying to understand my antagonist right now, to make her mean and yet show her softer side.

    Maybe your antagonist can be in a future story? :-)

  6. Kristen, he is adorable. Reminds me of my Tucker (YorkiePoo).

    The best antagonists are ones we have compassion for no matter how much they do wrong. Sounds like you nailed this one!

  7. Hey, Jean! It's great to meet you!!! I think we all have those novels. I have three of them, actually. I think of them fondly but will never let them see the light of day ever again!

    I need to check out Susan Elizabeth Phillips, then. Thanks, Jennifer! She sounds great!

    "It's good to be bad, but better to make the bad good."--Tamika, I love that! That's awesome! And so true!

    Definitely, Rebecca! It would be so much easier if we could make them flat "bad guys", but adding the human element gives them a lot of depth.

    This puppy? Maybe. He deserves it. I guess I can't give all of my mc's poodles. :)

  8. Thanks, Eileen! I really hope so! And Tucker sounds adorable!

  9. Oh my gosh, I just want to scoop up that puppy and give him a big hug.

    I know what you mean about antagonists. And I think if you're feeling that for yours, it's a good sign. You want your readers to be able tor relate to the bad "guy". It's makes her actions seem feasible and it makes you want to know more about her and her motivations.

  10. Excellent post. We must give our antagonist some good qualities. Otherwise, our readers won't find them believable.

  11. I'm sorry if this shows up twice, but it doesn't appear to have taken the first time. What I said was this: We must give our antagonists some good qualities. Otherwise, our readers won't find them believable.

  12. Thanks, Susan! For some reason my blog is acting up and the opening page # of comments is lower than the actual number. It takes a few hours for it to catch up.

    I completely agree! This is the key to making them believable!

    I know, Cindy! That last picture makes me forget all the craziness. So cute. I didn't expect to feel that for my antagonist, but you're right--I think it makes the entire story stronger.

  13. AWWWWWWW!!!!!! Look at that sweet face, he looks so innocent (they always do, don't they?). I need to start doing this more often - focusing on my antagonists. I actually started sketching out one in one of my WIPs and I'm going to try to spend as much time as I can figuring out what makes him tick. I think sympathetic antagonists - or at least ones that make the reader understand why they do what they do - are the best and I hope I will do justice to mine!

  14. They always do. Then they tear your house shreds. :0) I love it.

    I'm started to think about my new WIP again. I took some time away from it to edit. I have a lot of conflict, but need one person I can label "antagonist". It's going to be interesting to see what happens to this character!

  15. You totally just inspired something in me about my antagonist. I'm going to go write that down right now. Thanks, Kristen!

  16. This is such an adorable, inspirational post, I frequently fall in love with my antagonists, they become quite an obsession for me. ;)

    Thank you so much for your lovely comments on my blog, they mean the world to me. :)

    God bless,

  17. I ended up with my daughter's dog, Oliver. Talk about a character. I call him The Blonde Dog, or certain other names that I won't burden you with, when he's acting up. One minute I want to ship him off, and the next I am heads over heels in love. Sigh.

    I loathe two-dimensional characters. Movies are full of them. When I read a book I want to encounter "real" characters, characters that defy the stereotypical. And yes, like you I, some of my protagonists amaze and surprise me, as they're psyches are truly exposed as the story progresses. As if they have a mind of their own. ;-]

  18. That face can drive me to crime! Seriously, I want to steal him, now.

  19. You're welcome, Sarah! I'm so glad I've "met" you. Your blog inspires me.

    I agree, Elizabeth. I used to watch just about any movie that came out but now I take the time to study characters and only watch certain ones. If the movie is poorly done I'm really disappointed!

    HAHA, T.Anne! He is definitely adorable. My friends are really lucky!

  20. oooh, oooh, I have one of those cuddly little things too -- only mine is a tiny red poodle named Daisy. Sweet things, they are.

    And this topic is something I often strugle with .. I have a tendency to fail to give my antagonists enough background/motivation etc. I'm working on it though and improving. I swear 80% of the battle is just realizing it is a weakness so you CAN overcome it.

  21. My antagonist is actually my hero and heroine - they are each other's antagonist. And I love them both to pieces, even though they don't love each other too much right now. :)

  22. Oh, soooo cute. I have a chihuahua and I adore her. She is pure naughtiness, but I really like that about her :)

  23. Oooh--Tess, I have a poodle! She's my best friend and sidekick. Glad to know we share the poodle love! That's so true. Admitting weakness is actually a strength.

    Wow, that's pretty cool, Katie! You get to play a lot!

    Somehow it's cuter when they're animals, right, Tabitha? That's how it is for me!

  24. Oh, I love this baby! I want one just like him!!! But alas, four cats would torment him no end. Can I borrow him for an hour?

  25. Cute dog, and good for you to feel sorry for your antagonist. I feel sorry for one of mine.

  26. that is one totally cute pup. You're helping me to see my character as a human being that is multi dimensional not just form one aspect. It's amazing how it's pushing me to listen to her voice. These posts have been awesome. You should be teaching this stuff. :) take gentle care. Sarah

  27. Aw, Sarah, thank you!

    Ha, Patti and Jeannette! He is definitely adorable!

  28. Hi Kristen! I found you on Patti's blog and have been looking for fellow women's fiction authors so I moseyed on over.

    I love your blog! This post is fantastic and so incredibly relevant to my life right now. I have a new puppy and we are going through the same things.

    And I have an antagonist I started writing that I really wanted to be the bad guy, and now I'm all heartbroken over him. :)

  29. Hey, Heidi! It's great to meet you! Thanks for coming over--I'll head over to your blog too. I definitely want to get to know you as another author of women's fiction!

    Thank you so much for your kind words! I'm glad you liked this post.

    Isn't it funny how that happens? But pretty cool too!

  30. Thank you for all of your kind words. I'm flattered by all of your attention and yes, I would be more than willing to visit each one of your homes and chew your houses to smithereens. Keep this in mind, although I can type, I cannot read. Now I must go back to plotting world domination. The last I checked, carrots were stampeding the embassy.

  31. LOL at the comment posted by Roi! Oh, he is sooo adorable, sure he can come to my place anytime :)

  32. He is a cutie :) And smart too. Look, he has his own blog!

    I love my current antagonist. I truly do. He's the most unique characters I've ever tackled. I have more than one, but this guy, he's the predominate "bad guy" in the story, I fell in love with during the second book. My heart broke for him then. It was then, in the third book, that he really developed for me.

    Long live the antagonist! Without them, what would our heroes do?

    Happy weekend,

  33. They'd have perfect lives, Jack. Which would probably make me happy--but it wouldn't sell any books! :0) I know... Roi is so smart!

    HAHAHAHA, Roxy!