The Likability of Unlikable Characters

I wonder if the new fad to make unlikable characters because people like them a myth.

I like detective stories, mysteries, among the other things I read. But in the last six months, I think I’ve read far too many stories with these types of characters:

The bad guy who kills other bad guys. Hasn’t this become a cliche? Or have I stumbled upon a pile of similar motifs?

The good guy spends his nights in cheap motels with young prostitutes doing blow. But, you know, he has a heart of gold because he doesn’t actually sleep with the ho; he just talks to them. At one point, it seems, he’s up for three days strung out on coke and coffee and is still able to critically analyze a scene and glean more than the other officers.

My suspension of disbelief has been suspended.

Why am I reading this book?

It’s richly detailed – in parts. It had a good enough beginning to get me interested. Also, I like to finish a book.

But I’m at the point, now, that I’m considering abandoning it. Too many issues for me to keep reading.

The characters names are similar or the same to well known famous book-to-movie characters. It makes it hard for me to picture anyone else but Tom Hanks.

Writing is hard. Originality is challenging.

Some people believe there are only so many stories. They are just told in different ways. But they have to be told in fresh, believable, even likeable ways.

I will read some books with unlikeable characters. But I have to like someone!

Opinions welcomed, please.

 

 

 

 

 

Authenticity

I think this is my word for 2020.

I feel I’m always authentic, being me, to the best of my abilities.

I reach for the positive in the majority of my interactions. (I admit sometimes I fall short – no one’s perfect.)

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That being said, some research seems to suggests positive people ignore the negative. So, when I said to someone today, I’m into the whole positive psychology movement, she stated, “I believe in being authentic.”

I thought about the statement, and her misconception that by being positive I’m ignoring some negative or darker emotions (uhm, have you read my work?) . However, I think of it differently. It’s a way to handle the negative, it’s not about ignoring it, (which is what I explained to her).

Last year, this blog was about writing. In looking at statistics, there were a great number of readers. Good. I hope you guys got some good advice. This year, however, I want it to be more about joy and authenticity.

I think my writing is authentic, sometimes raw, sometimes dark, but always with hope.

If You Give a Girl a Hammer…

She will want to build a life.

It rained at the beginning of school break. I discovered my window was leaking. It didn’t seem to need much, maybe new caulk.

When that was finished, I painted the sill. I discovered other parts of the room which needed a touch up.

Do you see where this is going?

I spent much of the break fixing, painting, home repairing, and cleaning out clutter.

I don’t consider this a distraction but another aspect of my being.

As writers,  we need to be vigilant about distractions, but we also need to feed the other parts of us which make us who we are.

Home repairs remind me I’m strong and self sufficient. The accomplishment feeds my brain much needed dopamine we don’t always receive from writing.

Home repairs remind me I’m capable and flexible. My writing schedule sometimes gets the better of me and I become all work and no play.

Home repairs are nostalgic. My father raised us to do for ourselves. And it got me pretty far.

Honoring all parts of ourselves is an investment to those who surround us as well as to our writing.

It makes us better humans and more invested writers.

Happy Monday!

 

 

 

 

 

What people think they know…

main_main_paper-wasp-bug-bookWhen people read what you’ve written, sometimes they feel they have some sort of insight into you the rest of the world is not privy too.

It’s ironic. I spend half my time in class convincing my students that maybe a yellow bird or a green light means something more in literature. That the author might have planned it or perhaps it was unconscious, but that it might just be a way into the text, to understand the story or characters a little better than a simple reading might.

And… we can sometimes assume things about the author.

We know Fitzgerald disliked the hypocrisy he saw all around him and Trumbo was disgusted by the war, but can we say with any certainty that F.Scott had unrealized feelings based on the characters’ portrayals.mirror-mirror

Some people like to make guesses about me. They like to make what they feel are educated guesses about the person I am. Someone made a comment to me, recently, about one of the characters in my book, trying to guess which character was actually me.

Of course, we put ourselves into the characters, but rarely do we actually write ourselves. Sometimes, I let it go – let them wonder. Other times, I’m a little annoyed that someone makes an assumption because they read one story and based it on one of the hundred characters I’ve created.

We can’t let it get to us too much – once we send a story out into the world, we can’t control where it will end up or what people will think.

So… How do you….?

Since my book, How to Throw a Psychic a Surprise Party, came out, people have consistently asked me – so, how do you?

psycI’m not sure how to answer without giving away the themes appearing throughout the book of short stories, or to get long involved conversation about what we want to to see verses what we hope to see.

One of the basic constants in life is we are consistently surprised by things that have been right in front of our eyes. When whatever it is finally reveals itself, we are shocked and embarrassed that we didn’t know.

Some of our more dense friends will say – how could you not know? and other rude a-holes will actually claim to have known the whole time. mag

Life is like a magicians trick – he has all the cards in his hands, but one quick shuffle and presto – chango – the card is suddenly behind our ear, in his jacket – pocket, up his sleeve. How did it happen? How did he do that while we were looking right at him.

It’s a matter of keeping our attention elsewhere. We’re too close. Too busy. Distracted. There are signs, but they’re so easily explained away – and then, then… kind readers… it’s Pandora’s box of tragedy released on the human race. It’s what grows like weeds deep inside all of us.

Hope.

That is what the book is about.

hope

Long Beach!!! Gatsby’s!

I’ll be at Gatsby’s in Long Beach Saturday at 5, psychic in tow. They have a full day of Halloween Horror planned.

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Thanks for the support!

Have you heard the old adage, the better you do the few people will like/support you.  Sad, but true, in some cases. But, as always, we must focus on those who do support us.

Those who wish others wellness and success regardless of where they are in their own life and success are the best kind of people to be around. Sadly, in this ultra competitive world, our success may go beyond jealously to make people feel as if they’re not accomplishing enough.

However, no one should feel that way. Everyone is on their own path and their life is different, their ideas of success might be different. And wishing another well should not hurt.

There is room enough for everyone. There is no proverbial “top.”  There’s a large, flat surface where we can all meander, eat cookies, and drink tea.

I want to thank those of you who wish me and others well.

This poster is an example of a well-wisher. Someone, a friend of a friend in fact, made this advertisement for me.

THANK YOU!

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