Tuesday, March 31, 2009

A Twisted Psyche

After some comments on my recently finished manuscript, I realized there must be some seriously twisted part of my subconscious.

It has come to my attention that the balance between protagonists in my contemporary romances is off kilter. Pretty much one protagonist dominates the other in both stories. Does that make sense? In M#1, the hero is the stronger personality and overshadows the heroine. In M#2 the heroine tends to put the hero in his place a little too often, and the poor guy takes it.

What part of my subconscious thinks that this is okay in a romantic relationship? LOL

Have you ever discovered a disturbing part of your psyche through the characters of your stories?

*warning: I mean this in an entirely lighthearted way *wink, wink*

46 comments:

Angie Ledbetter said...

I'm sure Dr. Freud would love to pick me and my current ms apart. :)

sherrinda said...

How very interesting! I've never thought about that in my own ms. So did you learn this through a crit group or a contest?

Jessica said...

Angie, you crack me up! Freud would find something horribly wrong with Jesus.

Jessica said...

Hey Sherrinda,
It was like a lightbulb based on a friend's comments. She'd read the first manuscript almost a year ago, and now she read this one. Her comments struck a chord, though she didn't say she thought this stuff about the characters (or at least not consciously, lol). So I basically realized it myself. :-)

Captain Hook said...

They say people tend to write what they know. How many truly balanced relationships have you seen/been a part of?

My answer is none and that's why I refuse to write romance.

Jennifer Shirk said...

Sometimes my characters go thru terrible mood swings that is embarassingly pointed out to me by my crit partners. Ooops.

Windsong said...

I sympathize with the antagonist. I generally try to write them in a way that makes them more sympathetic to the reader. Of course, they always get their just reward in the end though...

Jen and Kev said...

I agree with Captain Hook: I can only count 3-5 balanced relationships I know of in my life of fifty plus years!
I also have not read too many novels where there is a balance, Jessie! It's real life...
Maybe your mind isn't twisted; maybe your friend is an idealist! That's okay, though. I am marreid to one, and he's a great spouse!
Jen

Eileen Astels Watson said...

You know, I've got to be honest here. I know you're writing for LI, and I read LOTS of them, and for me, I do usually gravitate to finding one character stronger, more my type, kinda, than the other. I'm saying that's a bad thing, it's just in line with real life, I think. I tend to understand one better than the other.

When I started reading your post I was thinking you were referring to balance, equal page time per protagonist, maybe. And, yes, the LI's do a good job of equalling that out I find. But characterization, now that's a different story.

Kristen Painter said...

My characters tend to run away with scenes sometimes but it's not until I get to the end and realize they haven't done what I wanted them to. Then I have to deleted a bunch and rewrite. Does that mean I'm a pushover? Because I certainly don't think that about myself.

Janna Qualman said...

I haven't... yet... ;)

Jessica said...

LOL Sarah! I'll admit I haven't seen a whole lot of healthy relationships, but there's still been one or two that give me something to hope for. The longer hubby and I are together, the more "balanced" our relationship becomes. (I think, could be my psyche has fooled me though, lol)

Jessica said...

Jennifer,
That's hilarious! We do go through mood swings though, right? But our characters aren't supposed to. It's tough, making them human, and yet NOT human.

Jessica said...

Windsong, that's interesting and probably good. I'll bet your sympathy will come through to the reader and make the antagonist so much more rounded.

Jessica said...

Hey Jen,
No, my friend didn't say this about me or my characters, I just came up with it based on a few comments. LOL But I'll have to ask her if she's an idealist, she may be. :-)
You're right. Maybe we're all just twisted. LOL

Jessica said...

Hey Eileen,
Yeah, I meant the characters, not page time. I definitely give my heroine's more page time. I've just found that usually one character is "stronger" than the other and the other tends to be a doormat. LOL
Hmmm, in line with real life? So maybe I'm the idealist. This makes me wonder, can an unbalanced relationship be successful, even happy?

Jessica said...

Kristen,
You don't strike me as a pushover at all! :-) I love that your characters take over. Sometimes mine do too, and it's a blast.

Jessica said...

It's coming Janna....
LOL

Jody Hedlund said...

Cute Jessica! I think as writers, all of our pysch issues, personality, history, etc. will deepen our writing. So I guess, the wackier we are, the better our writing?! :)

Jaime said...

I haven't noticed that, but now I'll be looking! :) LOL

Lady Glamis said...

Oh yes, this happens all the time to me. I often find out about these buried emotions that come out in my characters. My husband looks at me like I'm crazy. Because I am. He's learning a lot about me since I started writing again... scary. :)

Susan J. Reinhardt said...

Someone once told me my manuscript was too much like Ozzie & Harriet. It wasn't believable. Then she met my husband and changed her mind. :)

Blessings,
Susan

Jessica said...

LOL Jody! I always knew being weird had its perks. *snicker*

Jessica said...

Lady Glamis,
That's SO funny! It's amazing how our worldview comes through in the smallest things of our writing. (don't know if that sentence made sense...)
Mary Connealy says that writing is therapeutic, only she says it in a really funny way.

Jessica said...

Susan, That is a very sweet story. :-) I'll be praying for you this April.

T. Anne said...

Maybe a balance would seem to 'faux relationship' to you as a writer. Not every relationship is balanced. Careful with your rewrite make sure it's still the story you want to tell. Good luck!

Jessica said...

Hey T. Anne! No worries on the rewrite. I'll just make the motivations of the characters more understandable, so then the reader can relate to their issues. LOL
Okay, so I guess I was totally naive to think relationships should be balanced. LOL

Dara said...

Yes.

The development of my antagonist makes me question things, lol. Especially how he gets energized when he's in control over someone and when he can see the fear in their eyes.

Apparently there's an incredibly dark and somehow sadistic part of my psyche and it's a bit disturbing o_O

Lynnette Labelle said...

LOL That's too funny.

Lynnette Labelle
http://lynnettelabelle.blogspot.com

Terri Tiffany said...

No but it sure sounds pretty interesting!:))
ANd yes it's a novel I'm starting now--one of the first ones I am actually excited about because of the plot!

Eileen Astels Watson said...

Jessica, there's a difference between how couples perceive their relationship and how outsiders looking from their own perspective in perceive that couple's relationship. I do believe for a couple to be truly happy and content, each feels as though they are in a balanced relationship -- the give and takes are in place and working to the best of their ability.

Now, taking that into fiction. Your characters must feel they are each getting what they need from the relationship to commit, thus they perceive balance in their relationship, in all likelihood. However, from the reader's perspective, we'll likely connect with one more than the other and thus we feel they are the stronger of the two character's in the story. That's what I'm thinking, anyway.

This is getting very confusing for my little brain. I think I'll go attempt to make supper now.

Nancy J. Parra said...

Cool observation! I think you have given us ying and yang here- hard and soft, light and dark create a whole.

Of course who is who depends on the day- don't you think? ;)

Jessica said...

Dara,
That's super funny. So there's this dark part of you that totally understands predators, huh? :-)

Jessica said...

That's awesome Terri! It's always fun when the plot just flows. Exciting is even better! :-)

Jessica said...

Eileen, I think you're on to something. I definitely let certain things slide that some of my friends wouldn't but I have my reasons and that's what matters. Vice Versa, too, I'm sure. Some friend's I'm like what??? He did that? LOL
Excellent points!

Jessica said...

Or the time of the month, Nancy! LOL

jessie said...

That is a VERY good question. Your questions always help me examine my manuscript from a whole new angle. I have been developing my MC's relationship with her parents. I'm interested to see what this may reveal about my own relationship with my parents.

Jeannie Campbell said...

i'm convinced that everything in our own lives is fodder for our writing. that includes our own psychological issues or insecurities, relationships, quirks. it's there for the taking.

Jeannie
"The Character Therapist"

Jessica said...

Hey Jessie,
It's really weird, but I did the same thing after I realized that my parental/kid relationships were kind of harsh. I would never want someone to read my story (a family member) and think I was modeling it after my own life. So I'm careful to be true to the story, but also discerning as to how I'm portraying people. It's so odd how I can see patterns in my manuscripts now.
It is interesting. Maybe you can do a post on what you discover? :-)

Jessica said...

LOL Jeannie!
You're absolutely right and isn't that scary? Heehee.
Thanks for stopping by my blog. :-)

Eileen Astels Watson said...

Not to appear as a blog stocker, but as I made my supper salad last night pondering your post some more, "opposites attract" came to mind. Maybe that's what you're doing in your stories more predominantly than others and that's why one protag. seems so much stronger and the other weaker.

Just a thought as I procrastinate from writing some more. I'm bad, I know.

quixotic said...

Now you have me second guessing my own characters romatic relationship. LoL.

I do agree with the statement Captain Hook said though. How many balanced relationships have you seen?

Usually there is one person more dominant than the other in a relationship. Then again sometimes the balance of power shofts from side to side as the relationship progresses. Oooh *lightbulb* I just got a story idea. he he he...

Kathryn Magendie said...

Gawd, Don't want anyone analyzing my work - especially my short stories, which most tend to be kind of bizarre and sometimes disburbing! Whereas my novels are gentler.

(as to your comment - in VK2 - she falls in love!.....that's all I'll say *teehee* - oh, except, she shouldn't have fallen for THAT GUY......)

Jessica said...

Eileen, that's a good point. I know that I do tend to give my character's surface differences, while making their ideologies/morals similar. Who knows? LOL I'm not sure I want to examine this too closely....
I don't think you're stalking at all. :-)

Jessica said...

That's true, quixotic. Sheesh. What is your real name? You and captain hook, LOL, have cool names but since I don't know yours (ha, I know hers now) it drives me nuts. Curious nature.
Anyways, interesting point about the shift of power throughout the novel. I hadn't thought of that.
OOh, hope your new idea is juicy!

Jessica said...

What???? You're gonna leave me hanging? LOL
I always do wonder how people come up with their darker tales. C'mon Kathryn. Give us the goods! :-)