Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Luck. Too Bad I'm Not Irish...


I guess I must have Scottish luck instead.

Luck and I have always had a give-take relationship, like a karmic sword of Damocles swinging back and forth a hair's breadth from my skull. Take last week. I finished my rough draft, had a great time with friends at a fun music festival, and relaxed on Sunday while I met my writing quota for day one of NaNo.

This week my knee went out on me, I missed a day of work, the battery died on my scooter (at least, I hope that's the only thing wrong with it), and I wrote this post on the streetcar this morning. Also, there is no green tea in the break room, so I am stuck with Lipton. Grrr.. ;)

Luck enters into my character's lives all the time, usually bad luck. Of course, it only looks like luck at the time, and I later reveal it to be more than simple luck or coincidence. As a reader, giving a character too much luck-- whether good or bad-- makes me sense the hand of the author at work. Sure, bad thing happen to people in life all the time, and those people must react. While that's fine for the premise of a novel, or the initial conflict, using luck to help the characters out of trouble is an author cop-out.

A good author will take advantage of the problems they throw their characters into. Our favorite authors use these experiences to endear us to a character, to show us what they're made of, or, conversely, what characteristics they lack. That's one of the themes of the original Grimm's Hansel and Gretel-- that the children rescue themselves using their wits. It's a model that most children's stories and young adult books have tried to follow ever since, and it works for adult books, as well.

No one wants to read about characters when even the author can't be bothered to give them enough brains to get themselves out of trouble. Yet another mantra to recite during this 30 Days of Write...

What are your NaNo mantras?

5 comments:

Tamika: said...

The one I keep on repeat, "Sit down and do it!"

So far, working like a charm.

Tere Kirkland said...

That's a good one, Tamika! I keep having to remind myself "Don't get it right, get it written!" That helps me when I find myself spending far too long on a passage I'm not happy with. Which happens far too often for my liking. Maybe after another 45K words I'll actually have followed my own advice!

jessjordan said...

Oh no ... lady lulck is a tough one from time to time, that's for sure.

And you are so right about our characters. If they can't think for themselves, why the heck are we creating them in the first place?

Susan R. Mills said...

Such a great topic for me right now. I'm trying to give my characters more backbone. They need to figure out.

Tere Kirkland said...

Jess, Susan, it's funny how this should be a priority to us as writers, yet it's something we have to remind ourselves of.

Resourcefulness is a quality I think we all hope we have, when in fact we seldom have to use it in our day to day lives. I think readers like ordinary characters who think their way through extraordinary events because of this hope.