Monthly Archives: November 2011

Harry Potter and Characterization

Harry Potter

 I’m so sad.  In my efforts to deny that the Harry Potter movie saga has ended I delayed watching the second half of “Deathly Hollows” for months.  I bought it the day it came out and watched it – finally – I couldn’t delay any further.  But, I was sad.

 I, along with millions, have had a relationship with these books, movies and actors for a decade.  It is truly the end of era (metaphorically).  J.K. Rowling created something special, something that changed our world forever.  Pretty freaking note-worthy, if you ask me.

And how exactly did she and Harry Potter accomplish this?  By being ‘brilliant’. 

 The story is complex and compelling to be sure, but what I think held us all captive for a decade is the characters.  They joined our families, became part of our lives.

 Look at any one of the characters and tell me they aren’t a three dimensional believable person.  Even the really, really minor ones have depth.  No one’s all good or all bad.  Harry may be the best Seeker but he can’t dance.  Ron is completely loyal but even he got jealous and fought with Harry.  Draco doesn’t want to kill Dumbledore, doesn’t really want to be a Death-eater, he just wants to make his dad proud. 

 They have good points and they have flaws.  They have moments of weakness and moments of strength.  They have likes, dislikes, humor, friends, and histories.  They have a rich and varied life that we glimpse gradually throughout the stories. 

 I’m going to pick a side on the character vs plot debate.  Which is more important?  I say character.  Plot is important – it is, yet when I encounter a genius plot, if I don’t have at least one character I love, it makes no difference.  I won’t read/watch.  If, however, there is one or more characters I can love, then the story doesn’t have to have a great plot.  I’ll still read/watch… because I care what happens to those characters.  Rowling had both a great plot and great characters, but I think we love this universe because of the people who inhabit it.   

 As writers, strive to create great characters, but what we should strive for is to create real people, 3D people.  People others can love and root for.  People rich with diversity.  If we can all learn that skill, we will indeed be better writers for it.

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Filed under Characterization, The Craft of Writing, Writing in general

Write What You Know OR Are Romance and Sex the Same?

"The Trouble With Romance"

Excuse me while I share a little more than is probably decorous in this blog.  People say, write what you know.  This became a particularly interesting thought to me of late.

I was talking with some friends and it came up (you don’t want the details of how we got to this conversation) that as part of a personal growth thing I’m doing right now, I was currently being celibate.  This is the point where one of my friends (very active… if you know what I mean) cried out, “How are you supposed to write romance if you aren’t having sex?”  I found this amusing and enlightening.

Not to be sexist, but the friend who said this is a guy, and I thought the comment showed a lack of understanding as to what romance is and requires from a writer.  If I was writing Erotica (not to be confused with Erotic Romance… my own little soapbox) then an active sex life might help with my writing.  I’m not convinced it would, but it probably wouldn’t hurt. 

As a romance writer though (erotic romance included), I think all I need is an active imagination of how my perfect romance would end.  Notice I said end?  Because, as we all know, we have to put our heroes and heroines, or H/H (in any combination) in bad situations and give them trials to overcome and obstacles to break through.  But, when all the difficulties and misunderstandings and insecurities and fears have been addressed or handled – our H/H will come together and live happily ever after.  The end.

Sex is not the same as romance.  Sex is a nice part of romance but it is not the same thing.  So, while my erotic romance sex scenes might be slowed down by my own lack of… it doesn’t have to be.  I’m not dead after all and I do have a memory. 

The romance though, the romance requires no sex at all to find inspiration because while sadly, my own relationships thus far have not measured up to my ideal in any way, I know what I wish it looked like and that’s what I write.  When Epic Black Car (Sorry – I can’t get his link to work) wrote on his blog that romance writers are a secret army of man lovers – I cheered.  It’s true, we love our manly-men.  Any guy who wants to know what women want – read a romance novel.  We tell you.  We lay it out in black and white in millions of books a year. 

So, while I agree that in many ways we need to write what we know (it’s easier), romance is not one of them.  If we were all getting what we want and need in our real life relationships, we might not have such a driving need to escape into it in a book.  I know there are tons of successful relationships out there and this is not to discount them in any way, but I sort of think that even the best of them could use a little boost now and then. That’s my thoughts at any rate.  What say you?


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