Using Those Frustrations to Craft Complex Characters

Not my kitty, but this one is similarly unimpressed

I have started eating healthier of late, and I’ve been at it now for a couple of weeks. You see, I’m getting closer and closer, each year, to one of those milestone birthdays. I figure that means it’s time to start taking better care of myself, even when I tell myself I’m too busy to work out, or when I tell myself I just have to cook for me tonight, so there’s no need to take the extra time to cook a healthy meal.

This ‘newer, healthier, me’ has manifested itself in lower caloric intakes, leafier greens, more conscientious sodium consumption (you wouldn’t believe the sodium in some of these foods!), and less sugary beverages. Perhaps it’s the lack of added sugar that has made me a truly irritable person being this week.

Now, I think we can all recognize that each of us has our own pet peeves and “bones to pick” with our fellow humans. BUT…my grievances have been especially pronounced this week. I mean, can you please stop chewing your food so loudly? If you’re in front of me, can you please walk a bit faster? Do you really need to argue with your significant other at the table next to mine in my favorite coffee shop? Oh and, my goodness, do my in-laws really have to visit multiple times per week, every week?

Basically, my irritability level has been so heightened that I eventually just had to take a step back and recognize this for what it was. And I had to write about it. So here I am venting through my writing and coming to a realization. Why not take all of these annoying happenings and negative energy and inject that into my writing to produce something phenomenal?

Every good romance novel needs obstacles built up for the characters to ultimately push through. Any good story needs characters that we, as readers, really like and connect with and also characters that we really don’t like or that we really love to hate. Building an enjoyable story—one which resonates with readers—takes time and effort. The characters involved and the situations they find themselves in cannot be one-dimensional.

So I’ve decided to take all of these annoyances and my own negative energy this week and project that into my characters. I’m still in the early stages of editing my first novel, but I’m, importantly (and painstakingly), thinking of ways I can make my characters more believable. Maybe I’ll take that couple arguing in the coffee shop and use some of their own arguments and mannerisms to enliven the conversation that my male protagonist has with his ex-wife in the restaurant they used to frequent together. In another novel I’ve started, I can already picture my over-worked female protagonist, hurrying from one place to another at the end of her work week, becoming annoyed with the New York City tourists strolling along slowly in front of her.

I’ve mentioned before that I have an idea for a third book brewing. This will be different than the two novels I’ve started thus far—this will be historical romance, rather than contemporary. I’ve been trying to turn my brain off of this third novel idea lately, in an attempt to focus on deeper editing of my first work in progress, but it’s been so difficult! I already have an idea of how to work my in-law frustrations into this book, and I CANNOT wait. (Honestly though my in-laws really are lovely people, and I shouldn’t complain so much.)

What frustrations have you all been dealing with lately? Any chance you’re also channeling some of these into your creative work? I’d love to hear about it, if you’d like to share!

*****

What I’ve been listening to this week: I’ve been in a dance/electronic pop stage lately. Along with a trusty mug of coffee, the dance floor jams have been keeping me awake and motivated to keep writing. Songs inspiring my writing lately include: “FOOLISH” – Meghan Trainor; “Cool Out” – Imagine Dragons; “Too Proud – Sir Sly Remix” – Broods, Sir Sly; “NASA” – Ariana Grande; “Bills, Bills, Bills” – Destiny’s Child (classic!)

-AW

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