Thursday, November 7, 2013

Opposites Attract But Extreme Opposites Don't

A common flaw I see with a lot of submissions revolves around this concept. Authors, in an attempt to create "conflict" in their stories put together characters that are so different and so opposite that it makes for a story that seems ridiculous. These authors are returning to that same statement we use so often of "opposites attract." In reality we do find that these extreme opposites simply don't attract.

The problem with using this extreme opposite approach is that the author now has to go to extreme measures just to bring the two characters together. They have to fabricate huge back stories. They have to put them into situations that come across as so forced that it detracts from the actual story. For romance authors, this really hurts. Since the goal is to focus on the relationship, these side trips now take us away from the story.

Now, does this mean that you create characters that are 100% the same? Absolutely not. Now they have nothing to learn both about and from each other. But, there needs to be something they have in common, something that they will have the ability to bond over during the course of their building relationship.

Again, this commonality is once again where many authors screw it up. Instead of finding something within the characters that can be that common bond, they move to external events and conflicts. We see this the most with those romantic suspense and thriller stories. The stalker, the crime investigation, things such as this do indeed bring the two together and force them to be together, but the problem comes from the time that event is over. There is now nothing to keep them together. The crime has been solved and now they have nothing to share, other than the memories of the terrible things that happened to them.

As you craft your characters, you can bring unlikely characters together, but be careful about making them too extreme. Find something within the characters that they can eventually reveal to each other to see they really aren't too different. The end result really will be that happily ever after!

1 comment:

  1. Wow. Thank-you for answering my question. I had so many epiphanies while reading your reply, I couldn't begin to list them. It's like the light bulbs just started popping on and wouldn't stop.

    Until now, I never realized how "little" I'd considered the "BIG" business aspect of romance publishing and what those dollar amounts reveal about their product: a formula for success. What people like, they buy. And continued sales of a product validate the product's worth. Personal preferences be hanged. The facts don't lie.

    Wow, again. Looking at the "BIGGER" picture really helped me to see these "sub-class remarks" in a whole new light. How really "small" they are in the whole "BIG" scheme of things. Absolutely irrelevant.

    So, yes, I am taking your advice. How can I not stand up for myself in light of the facts. From now on, boulders are nothing more than dim-witted rocks and who has time for a conversation with the stuff we drive over.
    I am so enlightened. Again thanks!

    Also, thank-you Terri Patrick for taking the time to share your thoughts. I appreciated your point of view. Your words were inspiring and I enjoyed reading them. Very helpful.
    Kate M.