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My Thoughts On Shit Characters

I have this scene that I realised is complete and utter crap. Claire comes home from an art gallery with Luca and winds herself up so bad she rings Harley bawling her eyes out afraid that their friendship will be fucked up if their relationship ends. Here is the problem: Their relationship is going great. They’ve been dating for less than a week and things are going swell. Why the hell would she be freaking out about this?

I know in my mind it made sense when I wrote it because Claire and Harley have been together in my mind for years now. But they aren’t even having any issues. Yet Claire feels the need to be all dramatic and interrupt Harley studying in the library. She cries and probably snots and gives him a short cryptic reason as to why she’s upset which loosely translate to “get your f-ing ass here before I melt into a puddle on the floor because I’m imaging the worst.” It’s not even his fault and he has to deal with the mess she’s caused.

I didn’t actually realise I had to change this until I finished reading The Fault In Our Stars. I also saw the movie today. I must have a heart of stone – I didn’t cry. I remember this bit with Hazel crying to Augustus on the phone when she’s looking at her swingset and thinking about how unfair her life is. That is a reason to bawl. She has cancer and can’t live like a normal teenager because it makes her lungs weak.

Claire’s doesn’t have a reason. If her and Harley were fighting constantly or maybe if she had dated one of her previous best friends and they couldn’t stand be around each other anymore then it might work. It could. That would be an acceptable reason. My readers wouldn’t be rolling their eyes going oh my god what a cry baby.

I’m afraid all the time what people will think of Claire when they meet her. She’s the hardest character to seem believable even though she’s only a normal girl. My other characters all have something to fight for, some that makes them endearing, but at the beginning of the novel she doesn’t. I’m afraid of portraying her as stupid when I know she’s not it’s only because I’m not a capable enough writer.

That is why I love editing and re-writing, and writing in general. I get to practice what I am going to say and make it the best it could be before I open my mouth and say something stupid.

 

Jo Carter

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