Saturday, August 28, 2010

Be nasty

Some Sunday morning reading in The Age from John Birmingham on a universal truth: good drama requires a writer to be a bit nasty to their characters.

It's something I struggle with, because I'm one of those people who just wants everyone to get along! I don't like it when my characters are mean to each other, but who wants to read 50 000 words or more of people being nice? Bor-ring.

So I work really hard at remembering to make my antagonist as vicious as a tiger snake. Whenever I write a scene with him in it, I think 'tiger snake'. Aggressive, kind of handsome, and poisonous.

Does that sound crazy, or do other people work this way?!


  1. I've not made any of my characters nasty - just antagonizing.

  2. Awwww one of my characters is so nasty - but I'm loving writing her!! I love that I'm able to let this person be so nasty and sexy and nasty again!! Oh but I'm hoping that the reader will understand why she is how she is eventually! You gotta have a bit of redemptive bits too! LOL!!

    Good luck with channeling your inner tiger snake! :-)

    Take care

  3. Yes, antagonising will do it.

    - and Old Kitty, of course I forgot to mention the understanding and redemptive qualities - thank you for reminding me!
    Nasty for nasty's sake is almost as boring as pure niceness.

  4. I struggle with this too! I keep trying to fix things too quickly. I don't like real people to stay upset, so I guess I want the same for my characters :)

  5. Jemi - yep, my characters always apologise to each other too easily! I keep telling myself - more misunderstandings, fewer resolutions.

  6. Miaou? You live in Melbourne? Sorry about the bad weather we are sending your way!
    Crochet? More impurrortant question - can you knit?

  7. Popped over from KarenG's BBQ. So nice to find you. Looking forward to reading more.

  8. catdownunder - so we have you to thank for the crazy weather! re knitting, I can if required, but only if what is required is rectangular..

    Ann - thanks for dropping by!

  9. Came over from KarenG's BBQ. I'm now a follower.

    I echo what Old Kitty said. Create a mean, memorable character, but with some redemptive qualities. Though I can't think what's redemptive about Jack Nicholson's character, Colonel Jessup, in the movie A Few Good Men! But you do remember him!!

    Yes, you're creating characters, and some of them, like your antagonist, are vicious. You have to tell them the way they are. If only everyone was nice; but this isn't the way the world is.

  10. I'm glad to find your blog, and thanks so much for the follow. I look forward to your upcoming posts. Cheers!

  11. Hello - I came by from the lovely Karen's blog BBQ - pleased to 'meet' you! :)

    I love what you have put on your profile - I too am not kind on my eyes at all. I worry about being constantly bathed in computer monitor light! As for nasty characters - I quite like writing them! It's fun to work out their motivation. And 'tiger snake' is a perfect description to have in mind!

  12. I've enjoyed your posts! Karen sent me and I'm glad I came.

    When I wrote my last novel I just kept throwing stuff at my MC, harder and harder! It was kind of fun. They have to struggle to make their victory sweeter, don't they?

  13. It's hard to be nasty to the people you love (even if they're imaginary) but necessary! Just popped over from the BBQ, nice to meet you :)

  14. Hello SF
    From the BBQ. You may have strong Libra in your astrological chart. They are the peace makers. I have a Moon in Libra. Plays havoc on my emotions.

    I am your new follower and I will revisit your blog.

    Have a fun Holiday Week end.
    Wanna buy a duck

  15. Krista - it is fun making life difficult for your mc, and at least I know I can make it all work out just fine if I want to.

    Nicole - think being nasty takes practice, and I'm getting better at it!

    Manzanita - hmm, interesting, I hadn't thought about that!

    Thanks to everyone from the BBQ for dropping by - nice to meet you all!

  16. Hi SF -- still making the rounds from Karen's party. What a great blog concept you have!