Thursday, August 22, 2013

When to walk away

Just a short blog today about knowing when to walk away.  No, I'm not talking about walking away from writing--like many of you out there I am so screwed up there's no way I could even if I wanted to (which, trust me, at times I do ;)).  Alas, I'm addicted and they haven't invented a patch yet for us.  So, this isn't about that.

It's about our characters.  Why do they do what they do?  Why don't they just walk away? Sadly, I seem to be finding a number of books where the motivation isn't there.  The WRITER wanted the character to do or act or say something.  To not give up the quest.  So the WRITER made the character do it.

And lemme tell you, when I read books like that the word WRITER is in all caps.  And sort of glows.  I'm annoyed when that happens.  I read to lose myself in a character's world.  Not see the writer behind the screen.

When characters do something, especially something painful, embarrassing, stupid, or dangerous it needs to be clear what is motivating them.  It needs to be logical.  And there really needs to be no other option (this holds true even if it is an internal motivation- aka an over active sense of justice for example).  

16 comments:

  1. Marie, I thoroughly agree. Sadly, I find this to be a frequent problem in category romances {large sigh}. It makes me want to throw the !! book across the room.

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    1. I hear ya, Margaret! I've many airborn books from multiple genres because of this :(.

      Thanks for coming by and commenting!

      Marie- home computer dead- at work- can't log on to Google

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  2. Great insight and I could not agree more. And I realize now this is why I'm having trouble starting back to writing. My characters need motivation out the wazoo, not just "she has to do it so the story moves forward"
    High Fives!!

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    1. LOL! Thanks, Mona! I think if we stop and ask ourselves WHY someone is doing it-- we may nip some of this in the bud.

      Thanks for coming by and commenting!

      Marie- home computer dead- at work- can't log on to Google

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  3. G.M.C. You can't beat that formula. All three elements have to be there.
    Nice post. I wish I could be as pithy. Ann

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    1. Exactly, Ann! And thanks for calling me pithy :).

      Thanks for coming by and commenting!

      Marie- home computer dead- at work- can't log on to Google

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  4. Good post. I live in fear of doing this.

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    1. Thank you, Vicki :). I have to admit that when I find it in other books, it makes me look really hard at my character's motivation! We can learn by what NOT to do ;).

      Thanks for coming by and commenting!

      Marie- home computer dead- at work- can't log on to Google

      Delete
  5. That's such a great point, Marie! I had that same thought one time when I was reading the Sookie Stackhouse series and was several books in. She didn't like the vamps anymore, so why was she still helping them? They didn't even pay her, they weren't threatening her, and she was tired of their crap, but the writer needed her to stay in their world. The reader totally senses that stuff and it makes for lackluster reading.

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    1. Thanks, Cassi :)

      I think honestly that long time series may very well show this problem more often. The steam is gone, but the world keeps going without any real motivation :(. It's too bad really, I've lost many good series because of that (or the writer just stays in them too dang long).

      Thanks for coming by and commenting!

      Marie- home computer dead- at work- can't log on to Google

      Delete
  6. Great points, Marie.

    Sometimes when I read I feel like that little kid who asks the grown up (aka writer) "Why did that happen?" And then I get the old - "Because I said so." Maybe that works for children, but readers deserve better.

    Sharon

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    1. LOL! I like it, Sharon! That writer is telling us to just not question things and that ruins it. We need to make sure the reader has no reason to question things ;).

      Thanks for coming by and commenting!

      Marie- home computer dead- at work- can't log on to Google

      Delete
  7. My wife was just telling me last night about a book she'd finished. It detailed a thirty year period in which two rival characters had built up empires by being very careful in how they did things. And then, as the book moved toward the climax, both characters proceeded to make stupid and completely out of character decisions that brought both empires tumbling down. Their actions made no sense, and seemed to have occurred only because the author needed them to do so.

    Ny wife was perturbed.

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    1. Oh man, Ken- tell your wife she has my sympathy! That is painful. And it makes you wonder what happened? Did the author just get bored? Ouch.

      Thanks for coming by and commenting!

      Marie- home computer dead- at work- can't log on to Google

      Delete
  8. Marie,

    You made me realize that I not only read to lose myself in the characters, but I write for the same reason. I'm now a plotter globally, but I let my characters surprise me by taking control locally.

    Susan

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  9. Nice point, Susan! I think that as writers we should know if our character has lost their motivation (or never had it)--but sometimes we don't want to admit it ;).

    Thanks for coming by and commenting!

    Marie

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