Reading an article in a recent issue of Romance Writers Report got me thinking about the characters in the story I’ve been editing: Do I know my heroine as well as I know myself?
I sure should, since she’s me … or at least more me than most. Sure, I put a little bit of myself in all my heroines, but Erin is special. She’s the me of 10 years ago: an education reporter at a small-town newspaper (which I was) who’s tired of being alone (ditto) and decides she wants to date one of her coworkers (which I did — desperately) who treats her like a kid sister (which he did, probably thanks to the extra 100 or so pounds I carried back then).
There is where the similarities end, though. For one, Erin’s not overweight (romance heroines rarely are). She also longs to leave her boring small-town life for the bright lights of a big city. Me, I decided the big city wasn’t for me about the same time I realized I didn’t really want to be the next Woodward and Bernstein, uncovering government corruption.
Yes, that’s why I wanted to get into journalism … well, that and the ability to actually make a living with my writing. I wanted to make a name for myself by uncovering a huge scandal. A year of covering cops, courts and city council cured me of that notion. I found government reporting mind-numbingly boring. Give me the features desk any day.
But to get back to my point: Sometimes I wonder if I know Erin well enough. Perhaps one of the reasons I’m having trouble editing this thing is that she’s not memorable or quirky enough. Her goal of uncovering a big scandal at the hero’s school (and using the story as a steppingstone to get a job at a bigger paper) isn’t clear enough.
It also hit me last night that my hero is kind of boring. Brad is, well, a bit of a Boy Scout (which makes it interesting when Erin suspects he might be involved in the big school scandal).
The other guy, Mike (the one Erin thinks she wants to date and who gets his own story — the last of three), is more interesting. Between his seemingly undeserved reputation as the office Romeo and his penchant for consuming mass quantities of snacks, he’s more memorable than Brad.
Uh-oh. I think that means I’m in trouble.