I read a fabulous book recently, and then I did what I should not have done…I went to Goodreads and read the reviews for the book.
OUCH. Everybody hates the character I love.
I took a deep breath, imagined all the haters in ugly granny panties having a mammogram, and then had a laugh.
Because it’s okay. I get it. Characters are like types of tea, and readers have different tastes. So yes, sometimes I am the hater. Go ahead and set up the mammogram machine.
I read another book soon after. I was intrigued even though the story line was only so-so in the beginning. The characters? I couldn’t stand them. None of them. Maybe one. A little. But I’m still reading the book because I’m interested enough to follow through.
It got me to thinking about characters and what I like as a reader. So here’s the truth about my bag(s) of tea.
1) I will read a book even though I hate/don’t identify with the character. Why? Because life is full of people I don’t get. Because they aren’t me.
2) I can love a flat character just as much as I can love a round character. Seriously, I have fallen madly in love with a boring, terribly written character. It’s sad, but true. There’s a magic in books that cannot be explained sometimes.
3) Right now it’s fad to write arrogant, tough as nails characters. Which is fine. But I want to sit down to tea with different kinds. I love losers. I love feelers. I love the girls who don’t have to be macho. I love the guy who isn’t an alpha. I love the characters in the back of the room that the author doesn’t get around to, even though they are clearly the more fascinating people…
4) Above all, I want to know the character, even if I don’t like them. Why do they do what they do? What do they think of in the middle of the night when they can’t sleep? What demons do they fight in their mind? What character would they be in a school play? What kind of socks do they wear in their tennis shoes? And most importantly, would they laugh at my jokes?
What’s my point? Writers, be true to your characters. Sometimes that means they will fit in with trends. Sometimes it means they will not. Your book can survive and thrive with either type of character.
Here’s a thing I’ve learned in life:
You’re gonna be served lemons. If you aren’t, you are gonna be served limes. Make something inspiring out of it, whether that be lemonade or key lime pie. Don’t stop to fret over whether or not people will come over for lemonade. Just keep an open invite and see what happens.
Eventually, you will find readers on your porch, loving what you have served. And if your lemonade didn’t come out right? Go make another batch!
And now, if you will excuse me, I am hungry and thirsty. I’m going to take the lemons and limes I’ve been handed and go figure something out!
P.S. Charlotte will be a scary fairy in book 4. I’m so excited!