I’m afflicted — cursed, if you will — with being that most heinous of attributes: Nice.
Some people — normal people — might think nice is a good thing. And that is, indeed, the case when you’re dealing with fellow human beings. A little kindness can go a long, long way.
But when you’re an author trying to make life difficult for your hero and heroine, a nice streak as wide as the mighty Mississippi just gets in the way.
Trust me, I know. That’s my CP’s main complaint with the MS she’s reading for me right now — and it was the main point of one of the agents who gave me detailed feedback on my 2011 Golden Heart finalist.
Obviously, it’s a problem for me.
I think it boils down to this: My characters are like old friends (some of them very old, having been knocking around my head since the mid-1990s). As I wrote in a guest post on the Ruby Slippered Sisterhood last spring, they’re folks I’d enjoy meeting for coffee or dinner.
And because I like these people, the last thing I want is to see them suffer.
But suffer they must. In the words of my CP, I need to “Make them wiggle. Make them squirm. Make them unhappy. Uncomfortable. Put roadblocks in their way. Conflict is what drives a book and keeps the reader wondering how they will ever end up together.”
I can see her point. There’s not much keeping someone reading if they know the hero and heroine are meant for each other halfway through the story, is there?
That means I have to accept that torturing my characters — as much as I hate to do it — will make the story stronger in the end.
So I’m taking off the gloves. Now I just need to figure out how to channel the meanest person I know.