Friday, June 15, 2018

What We Can Learn From Jo, Beth, Meg and Amy

I do believe that so many authors these days are too hung up on plots. They are trying their best to create these unique and totally different plots to stand out from the rest of the authors out there. While this approach is certainly fine, I do believe that these same authors are missing out on something a lot of the great authors around the world have figured out. They forgot the characters.

There are a lot of times when I read submissions and find that I simply cannot connect with the story. The initial premise of the pitch and the story idea sounded fantastic, but, when I start reading the project, the story just doesn't hit home. In the majority of the cases, it comes down to the characters. In simple terms - I just don't care.

If a reader does not make that connection with the characters and find a way to feel what they feel and see what they see, they are simply bi-standers in the story.

I bring up Jo, Beth and Amy from Little Women simply for this reason. The characters are people that everyone can connect with. When it comes down to it, the storyline itself is pretty simply. We are following this family through their journey. We have no car crashes, no serial killers, no adultery. It is a simple story about a simple family. But the depth of characters is incredible. We know what drives all three of the sisters. We know what touches each of them emotionally. We can connect, in some way to at least one of the characters on a personal level. These are believable characters.

One of the things I tell authors that I look for in romance and women's fiction are characters that are real. Of course, I do have a lot of authors who simply do not understand this and send me a memoir or biography (heavy sigh), but for the rest, many still struggle with this. The key to romance and women's fiction is the ETHOS and the PATHOS. We want an emotional journey but that journey is only going to have an impact if we can "relate" to the characters.

So here is the question for the weekend.

Have you even thought about your characters as being real? Are you creating characters that people can say they "know?" Do you have characters such as Beth that you can really cry over?

If not, it might be time to rethink what you are doing.

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