Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Continuing With Bad Boys...

I've got a point to all of this, really. My point of all this is simply emotions put into your characters and expressing them. I tend to focus on the bad boys (and girls) because it intrigues me so much as to what it is exactly that makes them tick. How did they get so bad? What happened to them to force them down a path of self destruction? (Or the destruction of others.) What thoughts and emotions are constantly churning inside them, if any at all?

The human psyche fascinates me to no end, I admit. This is why I like to people watch. I like characters that I know will connect with the reader on some level. I like my female characters to be strong, but still feminine enough so as not to seem more masculine than the men. I focused on Harry Potter for some references, now I'm going to switch to Twilight.

Please, don't kill me for my opinion. Direct all hate mail to my email address. I'll filter through it and cringe later.

But here goes. Why do I dislike the Twilight saga so much? Several reasons. But first, let me give you an explanation of the things I DID like:

1) I liked that the vampires were done differently. (Even if the sparkling tickled my funny bone and made me snort.) The fact that they could control their urges and fight against the nature of the beast, literally, was cool with me. Go Ms. Meyers! I'm always looking for something different in the way of Vamps, Werewolfies and Zombies. Don't even GET me started on Zombies, for pity's sake.

2) The fact that she got kids to read is always a huge plus with me. I give her kudos for that alone.

3) She had good characters. This might sound weak, but each character had their own individual personality and they shone through.

Now don't hate me because I can only come up with three pluses for Ms. Meyers.

Why I didn't like the Twilight saga: First and foremost. Bella Swan. Her negativity and self consciousness grated on my nerves to the point I wanted to reach into the book and strangle her. In my opinion, she was a weak female. Now please do not mistake my opinion of Bella as my opinion of any woman out there who connected with her. Please. I beg you. Bella, as portrayed in the books, simply had to have a man. She had to constantly be reassured by not only said man, but by everyone around her that she was indeed, a beautiful, smart girl. In my opinion, she felt as if she was nothing unless her love was beside her.

But the emotions Bella showed were true, pure and pulled you to her. I don't know any teenage girl who doesn't feel very confident in herself. While most of them may pull off an air of confidence, there is always something about themselves that nag them in the back of their mind.

I'm a woman who has gone through so much in my short life. I've dealt with the rejection of a father, two abusive marriages, a lack of childhood and a lifetime of struggling to keep my head above water. Most of my life is partly forced upon me and partly my choice. I'm strong-willed, independent and speak my mind. I will tell you the truth, even if it hurts your feelings. What do I have to gain in lying to anyone just to make them feel good? What do you gain in false knowledge?

Anyway, I digress. Because of who I am, I like strong characters. I admit I read all of the books simply because my teenage daughter started reading them. Then she dropped them because she got bored. That and the fact that suddenly, everyone she knew confessed to her that they were really a Vampire. ::Smacks her forehead::

But back to the emotion thing. Bella's emotions and feelings were out there on her sleeve, dangling off in front of anyone, whether she realized it or not. I feel that the emotional connection from the author to the reader is the absolute most important and BEST connection there can be. Edward sort of turned me off. I liked Jacob more, not just because he was the underdog, but because he showed emotion. The glimpses I got of Edward left me wanting more, more, more and I felt cheated when I didn't get it.

Do you want your readers to feel cheated? Do you want to frustrate your readers with snippets of emotion and just fill them with flowery descriptions or do you want your reader to walk away from your book feeling satisfied, mentally, emotionally, intellectually?

As much as I could sit here and rant and rave about Harry Potter, those books even had things I didn't particularly care for.

I've read David Eddings "Belgariad Series" and walked away loving the books, the characters, the humor and emotion. I've read "Memoirs of a Geisha" and felt my heart break for the girl. I've read "The Time Traveler's Wife" and didn't feel moved by it, but a little sad. "MacBeth" was powerful, stirring. I get a kick out of all the Rita Mae Brown books featuring Mary Minor Haristeen, even though they're mysteries. Now she's a girl I can connect with on lots of levels. I've read "The House of Night" series by P.C. and Kristen Cast and am enjoying the intricacies of it as well as the veering off from the norm of vampires yet again. I'm reading the "Left Behind" series and have to sort of laugh to myself when I find myself fearing for my mortal soul. I'm safe, I think, so no worries there. But I can't put those down until I know all the characters are safe for the moment.

But there's another bad boy for you. Nicolae Carpathia. The Antichrist himself. Smooth, suave and charming to those who don't know any better. But secretly laughing at everyone else's discomfort and quite honestly getting a little pissy when attention is not focused on him.

Why do bad guys behave like a two year old? What is the emotional level of your writing and do you feel that your characters encompass the majority of them all to draw in the reader and make a connection somehow?

Here's a character for you, as yet unpublished. Mary McDonald's MC in "No Good Deed". My heart broke for the man. (I pray she gets published, this is a good story!) It seems like the more good he does, the worse life treats him. The man cannot simply get a break. But she used such a wide range of emotions, but hammered you mostly with despair and fear. She used these to make you cheer for the MC that somehow, some way life would start being a little more kind to him.

What are some books you feel have strong emotional characters? What turned you on or off about these books? What books do you feel are lacking in emotion? And do you feel emotions are one of the strongest pulls aside from a "good story"?


Unknown said...

I've never read Twilight, but I've heard so much about the series, both good and bad, and one thing I have to say about it, it gets people talking and they are passionate about it. I have the book, bought it for my daughter for Easter to encourage her to read more, but she's only nine, and just couldn't get into the book--although she loved the movie.

What a pleasant surprise to see my MC mentioned. :-) Thanks so much for that.

Charmaine Clancy said...

I hate namby-pamby characters. Love a touch of evil in my protagonists, not too much, just enough to make you wonder...

I like Sam Spade as a bad boy hero. He solves the mysteries and saves the dames (sometimes, other times they get slaughtered because he used them as bait), but he drinks like a fish, blues like an ally cat and is a real snake with his mates wives.

Unknown said...

I thought Bella was a bit obnoxiously weak too. You make some real good points.

I DO like strong characters, ones that actually feel and think and react like real people would react.

I can't think of any particular examples... Although, I love all of Tolkien characters... But bad boys, I just can't think of any right now.

Hart Johnson said...

Totally with you on needing the emotion (and the reason behind it)--I can deal with a hostile, angry bad boy if there is enough there to know it is the ache of rejection or some such thing. If there is no REASON, then angry characters irk me and I will only buy them as the foil.

I am FAR harsher than you are on Twilight, though I agree with your first two positive points, and I will agree Jacob is a pretty good character. Bella is the blandest protag I've ever read and I think her popularity stems from girls saying to themselves, "HEY! I'm more interesting than that! I could have all these paranormal beings fighting over me too!" I think though what REALLY irks me about the books is there is NO indication of a sense of humor from ANYONE. I fear Ms. Meyer and I are NOT destined to be drinking buddies.

I hate that you've had such miserable experiences, but i think using it to write is one of the healthiest ways you can work through it--I agree that we need to really FEEL to write with feeling.

I like my bad boys to have a weaknes... something or someone who can make them do the right thing (like Mamie with Rhett Butler) or else I want to really LEARN how they got there--the past pain that put them on that path.

Jean Val Jean is a good one. LOVE Les Miserables.

Unknown said...

I remember! Spike, from Buffy was a really good bad guy.

Though one of my FAVORITE bad guys is Goob from Meet the Robinsons. I just thought his character was well drawn.

I've also always felt an affinity toward Snidely Whiplash, as random as that might seem.

Oh! And I liked Snape toooo :D