My characters know what they are signing up for when they first start talking to me. Or, at least, they should know. I am not kind to the characters I create. Their stories are often forged in pain and heartach as much as in growth and triumph, perhaps even more so. I have characters who have lost their families, who have suffered unspeakable acts, who have found that their perfect lives were little more than the shiny red skin on a rotten apple. I am very unkind to my characters.
Perhaps my husband put it most succinctly last night: “When it comes to characters, happy is boring.” And, oh, how right he is! When my characters are happy and content and all is right with the world, I get bored. So I’m just supposed to write happy moments, that’s it? No, I can’t do that. I need adversity for my characters to overcome, pain to write them through, losses to help them deal with. I can’t write strictly happy. One of my characters once called me the “self-torturing writer” and it’s true. Often, most of the issues that I end up having with my characters are of my own making. Because of my love for drama, my characters often aren’t in bliss for too terribly long, even if they have worked damn hard for it. I do like to see them happy but, as I said, I don’t often know what to write aside from picket-fence scenes.
Now, don’t get me wrong. I love my characters. Very much! They are complex and colorful and full of depth. They are smart, strong, caring, heartbroken, high-flying, deep-feeling, self-aware but self-deprecating, and I love creating great, intricate stories for them. They are wonderfully willing victims who give me the power to create worlds, castles in the air to which I can escape, new people to learn and new stories to tell, inner strength to develop, loves to find and lose, and triumphs to achieve from the rubble of failure. I wrap my stories around me like a cape and watch my characters walk and live upon its hem.