Sunday, November 23, 2008

Rooting For the Terminator

Over at Varkat's journal, there's an interesting piece by Tor Romance author Patti O'Shea

She says "No One Roots for the Terminator..."

One of the biggest mistakes I think writers make is that when they write a kick-butt character, they create a kind of softened version of the terminator. Or in an effort to add some vulnerability, they'll give the hero or heroine an issue to deal with, but if it can be pulled out of the story without impacting the scenes or the character, then it's not a real complication.

The point is quite well made.

Her later example from one of her own books also illustrates what I think of as a universal truth - every advantage is a disadvantage, every character strength is a weakness, and vice versa.

To a character with a hammer, everything seems like a nail. Sometimes that's useful, like when the something is a snake that's attacking you. Sometimes that's disastrous, like when the something is a crystal vase that your spouse gave you.

Any time that you can take what looks like a strength, and use it against your character, you will please your audience. And that's what it's all about, isn't it?

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