Torturing the Hero(ine)

Saturday, March 17, 2012

(As an aside, can I say how torturous it was to spell ‘torture’? I always want to throw in a ‘ch’ an/or an extra ‘u’ in there somewhere. Lol)

What is it with we authors that we must heap misfortune after misfortune upon our main protagonists? We make them orphans, or have unloving/alcoholic/drug-addict step/parents, or bounced from one foster home to another, or grow up on the mean streets of____. They’re abducted and sold to a brothels or conscripted and made to work on pirate ships. They’re blind, lamed or social outcasts. More recently we give them some extreme/non-pc/borderline legal sexual kink.

All the while having perfectly straight white teeth, blemish free skin, great hygiene and thick luxurious hair. ::wink::.

Reading about a perfect Marcia Brady like heroine hooking up with a perfect Tebow-ish hero is well… ::yawn::. Pathos + romance = engaging story. Conflict + growth arc overcoming adversities = interesting characters.

But sometimes we authors delve a little too far into the eye-rolling ‘oh fer gawds sake give the kid a break’ territory. I almost found myself there with a story idea that hit me squarely between the eyes. I can’t work on it now because Mitch’s story (follow up to Hunter of the Heart) is my priority, but I knew I had to write down the bones of this story while it was hot, or else most of it would be forgotten. So there I am doing the character outlines. It’s a sci-fi romance. The hero backstory wasn’t too exaggerated. Let’s just say that his government wouldn’t let the poor man die in battle, and now he's as much man as he is machine.

The heroine on the other hand…. well, I must have had a REALLY big cup o WTF while I wrote her backstory. She’s part alien, part human. Her mother is killed (along with 95% of alien their race), then her human father is killed in battle, her father parents reluctantly take her in, but they don’t want her/dislike and blame her for their son's death. When the grandparents are forced to evacuate their outpost, they manage to leave her behind and she ends up as slave labor. Oh, and at some point she’s supposed to lose a leg (before the story begins) and also commit a criminal act that lands her at some penal colony/planet where she meets the hero and our story begins.


Yeah, so, I took another stab at that backstory and took it down a notch or three or ten. lol. And, as usual, the revised/simplified version is stronger/better. **thank god for 1st drafts & revisions**
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vanessa jaye said...

hmm.. just realized the choice of picture for this post might not be as obvious as I thought. It's meant to refer to over doing something, not the awesomeness of my story idea. :-P

Gayle Eden said...

IMHO, it sets up potential conflict, and let's face it, the more dysfuntional, the better. LOL. Backstory like that can also explain "attitudes." Although, I must say, I am glad the days of having to put the female through every danger on earth and the H saving her are over. If an author can make me believe it,reality or not, I'm up for the ride. With paranormals I set aside reality when I'm reading and am pretty much open to anything.

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