Okay, big words as I sit here typing this with a glass a cabernet at just ten after eleven on a Tuesday night protected in my self-made gilded cage. Part of me realizes that writing takes me out of that cage and open to exploring people and topics I am otherwise uncomfortable with when hiding out when I was too scared in the past to allow things that tested my conscience and my faith. As a writer, I know we want to be heard and connect with our audience, at least that’s what I’ve always been told. Yes, I think you should know your audience and appealing to them is certainly a part of the overall “guiding light” to be a great writer. I don’t think we should get so hung up on creating stories or characters we think the masses will flock to. As I began my new project Reign: A Game of Power I knew out the gate I was writing a story I felt an intense desire to tell. I created characters that I felt were realistic and complex like real humans. Not everyone in this world is likable, no one is perfect, and sometimes we do some really messed up things to ourselves and others, myself included. I felt like I had an obligation to be as real and raw as possible. Did I expect people to dislike some of my characters, yes I did, but I didn’t want to sugar coat anything. Do I expect to get backlash for some of my future storylines and subject matter? Yes, I do, and that’s okay because I’m doing a disservice not only to myself but my readers if the only material I put out contains characters and plots that are Disney-perfect. It underestimates the intelligence of the reader when you try to handle the serious subject matter with kid gloves.
I implore anyone who reads this not to get caught up in making characters that are always likable, above reproach and darn near perfect. Do the opposite of what’s expected. Maybe the star of your novel is a sex-crazed foul mouth bitch who sleeps with other women’s husbands, but she’s a really good detective trying to solve her brother’s murder (shameless plug see my character Bella’s bio here), Or maybe your protagonist is a major power player who will sacrifice his scruples to get what he wants. Sure, some of my characters are more likable than others, and some are entirely vile, I know this, and I’m the one writing it, but what I like about each one is that they’re all human with many layers. We’re hypocritical, we’re liars, we step on the little people to get ahead, we can be ruthlessly pragmatic, and sometimes we have sex people for some material gain; maybe we’re not on the street corner doing it, but the exchange can go down in many ways. However, even if some of us are all those things and some of my characters are all those things, the possibility of goodness is not automatically or eternally erased. I write this all to say if you’re not going to be honest in your writing, what’s the point in doing it? Don’t be afraid of harsh criticism or potential backlash. Be raw, be bold, but don’t be scared to put yourself out there because it makes you uncomfortable.
Okay, that’s it for this collection of rambling thoughts. I’m not quite done with my cab and I want to pull up Netflix and watch my favorite snobs Frasier and Niles. ‘Until we talk again.