December 4, 2011

Characters of Interest: ROW 80 Check In

My husband and I try to pick a new television show every season to watch together. Too often we exchange quick goodbye kisses and run in opposite directions. Some days we talk more over email than we do in person. Our weekly television show is our date night. We should focus on each other more, but we try to at least squeeze this in.

This year the show picked us. We couldn't agree decide which show to try. One night, uncharacteristic of our typical week, we sat down at the same time. I had my laptop and he had his, but we were sitting next to each other on the couch. It doesn't hurt that our kids go to bed on school nights at 8:30pm and this show airs at 9pm. My husband, as usual, was flipping around. Finding no sports to watch, he stopped on Person of Interest.

We were so drawn in, we both set our laptops aside. We found our new show. A brief description from the show's website: "a crime thriller about a presumed dead former-CIA agent, Reese, who teams up with a mysterious billionaire, Finch, to prevent violent crimes by using their own brand of vigilante justice."

I won't lie, I was originally drawn to the show's star, Jim Caviezel. He's handsome and brooding, what more could I want? Beyond that, I am completely intrigued by his character. Is he good? Is he bad but misunderstood? Or, is he just bad?

Last week's episode ended with Caviezel's character, Reese, facing a huge decision: kill a criminal scumbag or let him live. The last scene was Reese reaching for the gun, but hesitating. I was yelling at the screen, something I don't normally do, "Don't do it!" I wanted him to have a shred of goodness, a conscience, anything I can remain invested in.

I realized this is what writers have to do with characters. I don't want some perfect Prince Charming. I want the bad guy who gradually finds his heart, usually because of the love of a good woman. Right or wrong, I'm more willing to accept a darker side in male characters. Women can have an edge, but too much darkness turns me away from the character.

Do you find you are more accepting of darkness in male characters than in female ones?


My A Round of Words in 80 Days Update

Writing: More like researching and planning. I'm trying my hand at a more methodical approach. My panster tendencies too often leave me staring at a blank page. My young adult novel is about a young woman who thinks she's becoming a werewolf. I've been plotting using note cards and outlines, something new and awkward for me. Plus I'm working on the dark side of my main male character, and it's integral to this piece (one of the reasons I was so taken with our new show). Wish me luck.

Blogging: Going well. I'm really enjoying the gift theme of this month's NaBloPoMo. For a taste, check out Out of the Mouths of Babes. Mom in Love with Fiction is ramping up, too. I am joining a To be Read Pile Challenge later this week and have two books in the pipeline for review.

Editing: Working on a nonfiction sailing novel, such a departure for me but also a great learning experience. Also still editing another book. I'm so excited about it, but can't reveal anything here yet.

Miscellaneous: I finally got around to doing some blog visiting.

Exercise: Cleaning my house and decorating for the holidays count, right? Still staying away from sugar, too. My workout partner is out of town this week, so I hope to get to the gym on my own.

Hope the writing muse visits all my writer friends during the holiday season!


L.S. Engler said...

Typically, I don't think it's the gender of the character that decides how much darkness I like in them, but simply what motivates them. I've never really given it much thought, but one of my favorite dark villain of my own work is a villainess. Granted, as soon as I thought of that, I remembered that her son is one of my favorites, too, so I'm more inclined to say it's more about the story than the gender.

Besides, I think I'm more the type to like characters who are mostly good, with a little bit of darkness, than the other way around.

Best of luck with the WIP you mentioned! It sounds really interesting so I hope it goes really well!

CrystalCip said...

I think I accept more darkness from men than from women though to take this a step further I can't stand books that have a pretty dark male and his counterpart is a sparkling light female (think rakes and virgins here).

In the book I'm reading now, Nancy Kress? she talks about the fine line about making villains too dark without any redeeming qualities and then making them too understood/sympathetic. I need a character -at least a main character- that has some redeeming things about them in order to really like them.

Yolanda Early said...

Gender doesn't matter as much to me. I like darkness. I like to watch some inner struggle with it. I also really respect characters who just know who they are and act accordingly for better or worse. I find characters whose dark sides are based on some form prejudice the most difficult to identify with.

Great job getting things done. Luck for the upcoming week.

Lauren Garafalo said...

Sounds like you've had a productive week! I don't know how you juggle so many things at once :D I also don't mind the gender when it comes to dark characters. It's all about the motivations for me. If I can understand them, even if I disagree, then I like it. Sometimes I like the villains more than the main characters - I hesitate to think what that means about me lol?! Hope you have a wonderful week!

Anonymous said...

I know it's a little different but good luck with your planning :)

DarkWyvern said...

I think I'm drawn to dark, tormented characters regardless of gender. I haven't seen that show but it sounds interesting so I might give it a look. As a plotter, researching and planning is something I do almost automatically while writing, but I'm guessing panters would find it dull and tedious; still, hopefully it pays off :)

Julie Glover said...

My initial reaction is that I am the opposite - that I would accept more dark with women than men. I don't know if that's exactly it, but I think women can have more stuff buried that can come out when life's stresses demand. We push down the dark and don't release it, so it can build and then explode. (That sounds dark right there, doesn't it? I swear I'm normal -- well, as normal as they come -- and not harboring some dark past.)

I'm also plotting a novel when my previous works have only had a general outline. I'm hoping to avoid meandering on the page or leaving plot holes with this method. Hope it works for you!

Anonymous said...

Interesting idea, yes probably. I think because of the instinctual roles of men and women wwe allow men to be darker than women, but hope as you say they have some humanity at the same time. Good point.

alberta ross said...

well dark in that there are hidden problems yes either gender - dark as in evil not keen - and writing I have incredable difficulty in writing 'bad' characters - am going to have do some serious work there:) anyway all best for coming week

Em said...

I love that you and your husband have a tv date night....nice idea especially when you have to be in for the children. I think gender doesn't matter, I do like dark sides to chracters generally and if they scare me a little, all the better. By scare I don't mean 'boo!' I mean unnerve!

Also, decorating for Christmas is definately exercise, I have decided play rehearsals at school are my exercise for a while!

Kim Switzer said...

If the writing is good and the character is intriguing and not cliched, the gender doesn't seem to matter to me.

We're loving Person of Interest at our house, too, and I also can't decide where to place Reese. Good? Bad? Definitely intriguing, whichever he is.

I'm trying to work with more plotting and outlining right now, too. I'm starting to like it, actually. Hang in there! I think it's just something you have to get used to before you can see some of the benefits.

Tia Bach said...

Thanks for all your motivating words! Plus, you've all made me think about darkness and female/male characters. It does come down to good writing. An author can sell me oceanfront property in TN if he/she convinces me to buy!

Stephanie said...

Research and planning...not my favourite things. I like to jump right in. However, that's not always the best plan of attack. Keep up the good work.

Sounds like you're doing well in the other areas too. Good stuff!

Now, about those brooding characters...I think you have a point. I guess I'm a little sexist in this area. Brooding males can be intriguing. Brooding females - unless done exceptionally well - seem unapproachable and moody. Interesting. Thanks for the food for thought.

Tia Bach said...

Thanks, Stephanie. I am really working on this planning thing. I prefer to just write, but my new story is more intricate than I realized and needs some outlining.

I appreciate you stopping by!