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Monday, October 31, 2011

Halloween Release of Elizabeth Mueller's Darkspell!

My friend and the most awesome illustrator in the world (see the Character Therapist drawing on home page) is releasing her debut novel, Darkspell, today! How appropriate, right?

To celebrate, she's hosting a Darkspell Launch Spookfesta! I signed up to be one of her "minions" (how cute is that?) and help get the word out about this talented lady. The topic for her Spookfesta is "If I had all the magic in the world, I'd..." so here goes!

If I had all the magic in the world, I would take away the misfortune and unhappiness of others by listening to their woes. As they would speak to me, their burden would grow lighter and their outlook would grow brighter. They would see a way out from under the stress and strain, a way to depart from the depression and abuse, a way to cling to hope and faith. By telling their story, by truly admitting to their pain and heartache, and seeking help with a pure motivation, they would end up healing themselves.

In a perfect, magic-filled world, that it.

Can you tell a therapist might want this power? Whew. Work myself out of a job, I would.

Anyway, here's a bit about Elizabeth's book:

Winter Sky believes she is everything ordinary . . .until she is kissed by Alex Stormhold.

As seer of Stormhold Coven, Alex is sworn to be Winter’s protector against the darkness that hunts her. Violently thrust into a magical realm she always thought impossible, she stumbles upon a disturbing secret of her own.

Will love prove thicker than magic?

So a different twist on paranormal! You can read the first chapter here.

Elizabeth did all the artwork in the book herself, too. She spent over 150 hours illustrating her novel to bring the reader deeper into the story. (I wonder if any studies have been done on how readers like this? I imagine that the psychological impact is higher, for one, as well as the reader connection with the characters. Just a therapeutic aside...)

You can order a signed copy of Darkspell at Elizabeth's website or you can just get it right now from Amazon! Elizabeth's blog is so stop by and show her some cyber love today.

Q4U: If you had all the magic in the world, what would you do?

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Weekend Funnies: Why Men Shouldn't Write Advice Columns

This made me laugh SO HARD! Hope you got a good kick out of it too!

Friday, October 28, 2011

Friday Free Association Chain

The word is........


First commenter free associates with the above word. Second commenter takes the first commenter's word and free associates, and so on.

Remember -- FIRST thing that comes to mind. GO!!

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Predating the MRU: Was Swain a Fan of Psychological Theory?

I love my job for the very reason that I get to do a lot of research online all in the name of "work." Lucky for me, I run a blog that makes very good use of this research. Cuts prep time down at least by a third.

At any rate, in my "studies," I came across a psychological theory that felt familiar to me. Like, MRU-familiar. It's called the James-Lange Theory of Emotion, and it's been around since 1884. William James and Carl Lange, 19th century scholars, developed this theory independently of each other.

Here it is in a nutshell:

Event ==> Arousal ==> Interpretation ==> Emotion

Look familiar? Here's the broken down version of Swain's MRU (since the second half of the MRU, Character Reaction, has four parts):

Motivating Stimulus ==> Visceral Reaction ==> Thought ==> Action ==> Speech
                                            [  -------------CHARACTER REACTION-----------------  ]

If you take away the Action and Speech elements, which aren't part of the original theory, as the theory was focused on emotion, not action, they read essentially the same. James and Lange posited that the emotion came from the interpretation of the arousal. (You can read a bit more detailed explanation, including a quote from James, here.)

For example, My dog died and I'm crying, so I must be sad. This would be instead of the dog dying, feeling sad, and then crying. You gotta makes sense! Lange actually said that the vasomotor changes (arousal) was the emotion, essentially starting over a century-long psychological chicken v. the egg debate of which comes first, the physiological arousal or the emotional feeling.

Regardless, I have to think that Swain must have heard of these two fellas and tweaked their work to make it writing related, since writers definitely have to configure actions and speech into literary works.

Lends credence to Ecclesiastes 1:9 - "What has been will be again, what has been done will be done again; there is nothing new under the sun."

Q4U: What do you think? Did Swain lift a few principles from ol' James and Lange?

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Why You Shouldn't Be a Closet Writer

I was reading about psychology theories, and one came across that just made some sense to me in the writing world.

Justification of effort is a theory that says, "If I have to work hard to achieve something, I will afterward find it more attractive." We all understand this. The thought of wasting time and energy toward a particular end would prove us to be sort of daft, right? Consequently, it would damage your self esteem and confidence.

The research that proves this phenomena cracked me up. Aronson and Mills (1959) recruited students for a discussion group. For every third person recruited, they made the process more difficult to get "in." Afterward, when all the participants of the discussion group were asked to rate a boring tape recording they were asked to listen to, those who had a harder time getting into the group rated it higher.

Tell me you don't think that's funny!

But how does this apply to writers?

The reality is that writing is all one long process of getting "in" the publishing industry. Contests, conferences, critique partners, proposals, agents...consider it much the same way you would an examination to get into an exclusive Ivy League school, or perhaps like an initiation period into a fraternity/sorority/gang.

Those who successfully make it through the enlistment look back with very real pride (as they should) on this accomplishment. There is an air of exclusivity to those who have passed through the flaming hoops, at least to those who have yet to traverse the hallowed published grounds.

I propose that if you're at all thinking about being a writer, getting published, and making your millions relatives and friends smile that they know an "author," then you should tell people your goals! Part of the research indicated that if other people know about the effort a person is making, the cost of backing out is even higher.

Gangs and mobs have used this knowledge for years. If the process if hard to get in, people are less likely to quit. I mean, there must be a reason for all their sacrifice--whether it's blood, sweat, or tears. Is that any different from writing?

Let people know your goals, and then you'll have built in accountability to press on for the goal and finish your path to completion.

Q4U: Have you ever had to work hard for something only to later justify it to yourself or others for why you worked so hard?

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Character Clinic: Anir

Today, I've got Anir on the couch. She's the brain child of author Tara, and she resides in a fairy tale fantasy. She's 25, and in the same vein as Sleeping Beauty, belongs to a family who is cursed to have all the women fall asleep at the first prick of a spindle. However, they don't need true love's kiss to waken and they each have one special gift. Anir's is language. When she fell asleep on her wedding day, it was for a l o n g time, and she wasn't awakened as part of her marriage ceremony as is their tradition. She woke up to her home in ruins and everyone she loved gone.

Tara wants to know: Would Anir be able to be talkative and smiling after waking in such a situation? Everything is gone. I was plotting this story out when I realized how very traumatic this experience must be for her, so I wanted to ask what her head space might be like and how something like that, even if she was repressing it, might manifest. 

Anir -

With a personality type of ENFJ, you're likely very gregarious yet sensitive. Certain traumatic situations would definitely impact you internally, whether you let the rest of the world know this is the bigger question. Since you are royalty and you've learned some control over your emotions, that would likely benefit you in the long run.

But who on earth would believe that you'd wake up to such an alternative ending than you'd expected and be smiling? I don't think that would ring true to any reader. You seem to be close to your sister, and the family dynamics didn't seem to be without love, so I'm sure you'd be very distraught at them not being around, and probably distraught at the whole fairy-tale-not-coming-true, too, though that woudl be a bit more selfish of a reason to be upset.

ENFJs can be very motivated to get what they want, and to use their powers (and in your case, your language skill) to help them toward their goal. So couple your personality type--being a people person--with your drive to find out what the heck happened that you weren't woken up, and you've got the resources to be very manipulative if you want to be.

Hope this gives you a starting off place with writing this to be as authentic as fairy tales allow. :)

Monday, October 24, 2011

Why The World Doesn't "Get" Writers

My final statistical comparison following my Plotting and Personality Survey is below. It will totally explain why the general population scratches their heads at us writers.

I compared the United States statistics for Myers-Briggs Type Indicators with those from the writer population (who took my survey). Check it out:

MBTI General Population

MBTI Writer Population

The interesting comparison is found in the top quadrant (IN) of introverted intuitives, in particular the INFJ, INTJ, and INFP types. In the writing population, these types are considerably higher than in the general population. Most writers are INFJs, which is the smallest percentage of types for the general population! That's actually a HUGE discovery...and you read it on The Character Therapist first, folks.

The ESTJ and ESFJ types are among the most prevalent in the general population, but among writers, we are in the minority. The introverted counterparts of ISTJ and ISFJ are basically the same between writers and the general populace.

So now you know why writers are a curious bunch. We don't fit the personality stereotypes at fact, in many respects, writers exhibit the exact opposite of what the world would expect (at least according to type).

Q4U: Does it all make sense now? Why writer's conferences are a merging of souls for writers who just don't quite "fit" with other normal non-writer folk?

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Weekend Funnies

FREE RANGE by Bill Whitehead (1-23-10)

Friday, October 21, 2011

Friday Free Association Chain

In honor of my birthday yesterday,

the word is........


First commenter free associates with the above word. Second commenter takes the first commenter's word and free associates, and so on.

Remember -- FIRST thing that comes to mind. GO!!

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Pantsters Exposed

First of all, wish this Pantster a happy birthday! I'm celebrating by going to work as usual, so your comments will certainly brighten my day.

If you missed my post yesterday on Plotters, click here. I think you'll be surprised at how similar writing habits actually are between the two. Below is the breakdown for Pantsters:

Once again, I got very close percentages to 100 for each dichotomy presented in questions 1-4.

1a. You are not a list maker (groceries, to-do, etc)

1b. You ARE a list maker

2a. You do not have a set/defined writing time and/or stick to it

2b. You DO have a set/defined writing time and/or stick to it

3a. You do not keep a calendar/schedule for work or home

3b. You DO keep a calendar/schedule for work or home

4a. You pant through your entire story; to do else wise would give you hives.

4b. You do NOT pant through your entire story; that's for crazy people.


Interesting to note how similar the lifestyle patterns are for Pantsters and Plotters. 88% of Plotters kept lists and 76% of Pantsters do the same. 19% of Plotters had a set time to write, and 16% of Pantsters do. For whatever reason, my stereotype of Plotters was that much more of them would have a set time to write since they are so much more rigorous in plotting out their story. (Does that even make sense?) Almost the exact same percentage of Pantsters keeps a calendar, just like Plotters.

So my overall conclusions are that writers are just a conscientious bunch of people in general. I believe this has something to do with how much of our life is consumed with writing, so we have to be very careful to budget our time, regardless of whether we plot or pant. At least, this is my educated guess.

Question 4 was interesting. Only 87% answered it one way or the other, so I don't know about the other 13%, but 37% go for broke and pant the entire way through their story. Only 45% of Plotters plot their way through the entire story...not that far from each other. So these are the folks that make up the far right and far left of the writing bell curve.

On to the more random questions...

5. You have always been a pantster.

6. You bought plotting books, but had nervous breakdowns before finishing them.

7. Your first draft is your outline. You then do extensive editing/cutting/starting over.

8. Your efforts to plot fall flat and stifle your creativity.

9a. You have several stories that you work on at once.

9b. You only work on one story at a time.


Seriously? 43% of us have suffered trying to read Story Engineering or Story or Save the Cat or The Story Within or How to Find your Story...and nearly had nervous breakdowns? If that's not a call for a support group, I don't know what is! Well, that, and the fact that one-half of us take our story when it's finished and basically rewrite it. Whew.

49% agreed that plotting stifled their creativity, and it seems that Pantsters are more open-minded in general about how many projects we take on. The statistics were almost exactly opposite for Pantsters and Plotters with this last question. While 36% of Pantsters only work on one story at a time, 39% of Plotters work on more than one story at a time. That's fascinating, writer friends!

Q4U: Pantsters, how does this float your boat? Should we rally for a support group? I think the ACFW conference workshop got us off to a great start....

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Plotters Exposed

For the next two days, I'll be concluding the analysis of my Plotting and Personality Survey. First up are those pesky Plotters. (I can say that, since this is the blog of a Pantster.) :)

I was very pleased with the Plotter results, mainly because for each dichotomy presented in the first Plotter-specific question, I got very near 100%, meaning that most responders chose one or the other for questions 1-4.

1a. You are a list maker (groceries, to-do, etc)

1b. You are NOT a list maker

2a. You have a set/defined writing time and/or stick to it

2b. You do NOT have a set/defined writing time and/or don't stick to it

3a. You keep a calendar/schedule for work or home

3b. You do NOT keep a calendar/schedule for work or home

4a. You plot your entire story from start to finish before starting to write

4b. You do NOT plot your entire story from start to finish before starting to write


Of interest to note is that Plotters are organized in their every day lived (88% are list makers and 62% keep a calendar), but this statistic is not that much greater than the Pantsters, which did surprise me (but we'll get to them tomorrow). Not surprising is that most Plotters don't have a set writing time...I think writers in general do it when they aren't working their day job, or when the baby is sleeping, etc.

But check out question 4. It was nearly a 50/50 split. 45% of Plotters plot the whole way through and 54% don't. To me, the bottom line is that actually very few writers are die-hard Plotters.

Let's look at the rest of the survey results. None of these questions ironed out as close to 100% as questions 1-4, but they came fairly close.

5a. You have always been a plotter.

5b. You began plotting after reading books like Story Engineering, Story, etc.

5c. You are a Pantster masking as a Plotter because you feel this is the superior way.

6a. Plotting comes very easy for you.

6b. Plotting is difficult for you, but you plow through it anyway.

7a. You only work on one story at a time.

7b. You have several stories that you work on at once.


Okay, 5c just cracks me up. I didn't actually think anyone would select that, because that's what I was doing for so long and I thought it would be funny. But 6% of you feel the same way! That's worth exploring in a Pantster support group. Should I get one started?

And look at question 6. Plotting comes difficult for almost 50% of Plotters. We Pantsters have thrown in the towel, but 46% of Plotters plow through the difficulty. Perhaps I need to start support groups for both groups. That's a pretty substantial percentage!

Question 7 I asked of both groups just because I'm curious. I find that I do my best work when I'm not saddled to one project, and thought I'd throw it out to my writing friends to see what you think. Almost a 60/40 split in favor of working on a single project....but that's way less of a margin that I thought it'd be. I thought Plotters would be t-totallers and have to write The End before starting on something else percolating. Guess I was wrong, but then, what else are surveys for?

Stay tuned for tomorrow when Pantsters are revealed. There will be quite a bit more discussion and general analysis of both types. (P.S. Thursday is also my birthday!!)

Q4U: How does this ring true with you Plotters out there? Did anything surprise you?

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Character Clinic: Tamara Maeko

Today's clinic features Tamara (aka Tammy), an 18-year-old in Emma's quasi-historical fantasy soap opera. Tammy just found out a month ago that Alexander the Great is her father. Her mother Mae never showed her love and never gave her her last name. Tammy is a certified (but modest) genius who believes that she must be strong, independent, and forever seeking the truth and perfection. Her father encourages the artistic expression and emotional side of Tammy, but her mother has dispelled it from her in favor of logic and reason. Her goal is to purge herself of personal feelings and emotions that block her from the truth and can cloud her judgement (if not viewed objectively).

Emma wants to know: What would this type of thinking be caused by, aside from the obvious influence of Tamara's mother? Has anyone else recorded ever been through Tamara's type of thought process? How do I resolve it in the story?

Tammy -

As hard as opening up was to me, I think that it's important to note that you did. Deep down, you crave connection (as most people do). Your mother's ability to sever that human need for connection is an indicator that things aren't okay with her. But she's not on my are.

Since you admit to enjoying art and expressing yourself, there is more internal compunction to emote than you're comfortable with letting out...and that's the crux of the matter. For whatever reason, children do idolize parents, even when those parents treat them abominably. (My work with foster children proved this to me. They would gladly return to grossly negligent and abusive parents in a heartbeat if given the chance.) Your idolization of her success made you feel that you needed to emulate all of her...even her damaged emotional barometer that doesn't read anymore.

Quite honestly, this is a mask you are wearing. It looks somewhat like Schizoid Personality Disorder:

(1) neither desires nor enjoys close relationships, including being part of a family (but this isn't true of you)
(2) almost always chooses solitary activities (not sure what you do for a living or for fun)
(3) has little, if any, interest in having sexual experiences with another person (probably doesn't fit since you indicated you wanted a lover)
(4) takes pleasure in few, if any, activities (you only indicated drawing)
(5) lacks close friends or confidants other than first-degree relatives (definitely fits)
(6) appears indifferent to the praise or criticism of others (you tell me)
(7) shows emotional coldness, detachment, or flattened affectivity (you do this...I just don't think it's really you)

I'm not saying you have this...but it only takes 4 of the criteria above to be diagnosed with it. It's worth Googling to find out a bit more.

So, on to your author's question as to what can happen to make you feel this way...extreme hurt, multiple times over. Shutting off that emotional valve can be done with practice. But I love the tension Emma created with your dad championing your artistic expression. And he was likely a passionate man, too...and he's showing you love you never got from your mom. Perhaps you'll come to an understanding that your mom is the one with issues...and be able to accept that with your dad's help and example.

You wrote:

A sense of self is wrong because it separates me from what exists beyond my own
delusional beliefs about how I experience reality.

This sentence hurt my head to think about, Tammy. Very few readers...except those heavily into dystopian philosophy...are going to stick with you through this thought process. So while you may be putting on the mask, internally, I think you're very normal. Readers are going to want to see that exhibited through the artistic expression....even if it's doodling while at work or making designs on the condensation of your glass...something that shows the creativity trying to bubble up. Then the heart of your story isn't about what you think you are or how you think you need to be, but matching what you are inside with what you allow yourself to be on the outside.

Hope this has been helpful. You know where to find me (and pay me) if you want to go deeper. :)

Monday, October 17, 2011

Do You Fit the Plotter/Personality "Stereotype"?

As promised, I want to delve a little deeper into each Myers-Briggs type and see what the survey revealed about plotting tendencies. I took each individual answer, separated them by type, and broke down how many from that type had answered as being a plotter, plotter with pantster tendencies, pantster with plotter tendencies, or pantster.

Before I go too far, though, for those who don't know what I'm talking about, check out my post here on my initial overall survey results.

So here's the breakdown, by type, of which responders are Plotters (which encompasses Plotters with Pantster Tendencies) and Pantsters (which encompasses Pantster with Plotter Tendencies). 

          18% PLOTTERS

          14% PLOTTERS


         17% PLOTTERS

                50% PANTSTERS



              46% PANTSTERS

         32% PLOTTERS

             35% PANTSTERS

         20% PLOTTERS

        50% PLOTTERS

        25% PLOTTERS

        39% PLOTTERS


*Very few responders in these categories.

The seven types that have a highlighted percentage are likely the types that have the strongest statistical leaning to one type of writing method, Plotting or Pantsting. In the categories with asterisks, the results are likely inconclusive and definitely not statistically significant. In some cases, only one responder indicated they were that particular type.

Additional surveys would need to be done on a much larger sample to reach more conclusive results for that particular type. At the time this data was collected, 166 writers had taken the survey. At the same time, I think it is statistically significant that most of our writers fall into the other categories (based on the results from my previous post).It just could be that there are very few writers out there with certain Myers-Briggs types.

Q4U: What do you think about these results? Did some of the higher percentages surprise you? How does that make you feel if you fit the "stereotype"? What about if you don't?

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Weekend Funnies, True Story, and Novel Rocket Interview

Now for the true story.

Counseling a little 5-year-old girl in a janitor-closet-turned-play-therapy-room. We're playing dolls with the doll house when suddenly she said, "Miss Jeannie! There's a spider! Get it! Get it!!" I looked and sure enough, in the corner of the living room ceiling, there was a perfect specimen of my worst nightmare. I jumped up and said, "YOU get it!" She looked up at me with such an expression of confusion that I laughed and talked myself out of my own frenzy to "get" the spider (yes, there were a few yelps) for her. So tell me this....who needs a therapist more? :)

Q4U: Ever tried taking a speck out of someone's eye when you've got a plank in yours?

Check out my interview on Novel Rocket here!

Friday, October 14, 2011

Friday Free Association Chain

The word is........


First commenter free associates with the above word. Second commenter takes the first commenter's word and free associates, and so on.

Remember -- FIRST thing that comes to mind. GO!!

Thursday, October 13, 2011

The Results Are In!!!

I will be expounding on these basic results next week, but for now, here's some basic results of the plotting and personality survey (161 responders to date) from last week. By far, the intuiting introverts rule the writing scene!

I wanted to break down the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator to see which of the dichotomies (E/I, N/S, T/F, P/J) were greatest.  

82% Introverts
19% Extroverts. 

If you've been to a writer's conference, you might question the validity of this, but writing is generally a solitary occupation/hobby.  

70% Intuitive
31% Sensing

Tells me that most of the writers favor a more abstract or theoretical way of perceiving and gathering information instead of a concrete, tangible way. Intuitive writers who are more likely to trust the flashes of insight percolating in their mind. 

65% Feeling 
36% Thinking 

Indicates more writers prefer to make decisions based on empathy or achieving balance versus making decisions by what seems logical and reasonable.  

27% Perceiving 
74% Judging 

Most writers tend to use their judging functions of thinking/feeling when relating to the outside world.

This graph totally blew my mind. Over 50% of writers are PANTSTERS!! Only 43% identified as Plotters. Far more interesting, though, was that 75% of writers didn't identify as either Pantster or Plotter, but as some mixture of the two. I actually thought this number would be higher, but not that much higher. Only a mere 11% identified as hardcore Plotters, and I thought that number would be much higher. (At least it feels that way!)

I'm going to crunch a few more numbers, hopefully over the weekend, and get to the the interesting figures from the rest of the survey. The above results are absolute, meaning there was no way to mess them up. Some Plotters went and took both the Plotter and Pantster pages of the survey, which skewed the results. (My fault...couldn't figure out how to let Plotters finish the survey after Page 2 instead of it automatically sending them to the Pantster Page 3.) However, it'll still be a fun look into the preferences of Plotters and Pantsters...just take it for what it was intended: a fun diversion.

Q4U: Are these results surprising to you? In what way?

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Men are Like Waffles, Women are Like Spaghetti

Intriguing, right? I promise you won't regret reading this post in its entirety.

I've started a couples class at my place of employment, and I'm really looking forward to exploring lots of marriage/family concepts with clients eager to learn. I thought it'd be fun to give my readers a glimpse into my first group session. (This will be content only! No confidential info will be disclosed.)

After starting with introductions and group rules, I presented the following (although my hand-drawn versions were less than stellar):

Of course, food metaphors abounded, but I asked people to really think deeper. We had a discussion about general stereotypes, but many stereotypes do have a basis in reality. (You can read my Character Stereotypes series from CFOM to understand more.)

Basically, these two images represent the typical way men and women process their surroundings, their lives. Men are more compartmentalized. This is not to say simple or easy, but each aspect of their life goes into a a box. Men enter these boxes one at a time, size up a problem (if any), and seek to solve it immediately. Men are problem solvers by nature. They have work, children, wives/partners, dogs, hobbies, chores...all in separate "boxes."

Funny enough, according to the book I read where I got this metaphor (alas, wish I could claim it as my own, but Bill and Pam Farrel wrote the book by the same title; a Christian alternative to Men are from Mars, Women are from Venus) said that men have boxes with no words, just images/memories. They also have boxes with no words and no images...just blank boxes. (Not making this up...straight from the book and confirmed by many men.) A man's mind will often stick close to the boxes that make them feel like successes, feel good about themselves. They tend to avoid the boxes that make them feel like failures.

Women, on the other hand, are very different. We process everything by it touching everything else. It's much more of a process. Everything is connected. While at work, we can think of home or shopping. We're more relational, and can tend to be much better at multi-tasking as a result of out ability to process this way. We will often catch guys in one of their "blank boxes" and ask them, "What are you thinking?" The blank stare we get is the truth!

Communication, as you can imagine, between the two is challenging. A woman will come home from work, and when asked about her day, she can say, "It went fine. I got an email from Susan....the cancer's back. Oh, we need to go to the grocery store and get shampoo and conditioner. Did you pick up David from practice? We should send a thank-you letter to the Johnsons for dinner last night, too."

The man, poor soul, is scrambling! Trying to enter the friend box, then the grocery box, then the children's a mess. Often, if a man feels like the communication box with their significant other is too challenging, they avoid it. (Which is why many women are the pursuers in relationships while men are the retreaters.) You might hear a man saying, "What's the point of this conversation? Where is this going?" The woman is doing their thing, processing to the point (that we do have), taking our own path. The man would prefer the woman to say, "Can we talk [insert subject] now?" Then they enter the box and both people are on the same wavelength.

I LOVED the looks on the guys faces as the lights came on. They turned to their significant others and said, "YES! This is exactly how I feel!" The women were nodding their heads, too. It was eye-opening, this discussion in stereotypes. I love it.

Q4U: Guys, have you ever felt like you were scrambling to catch up? Women, ever feel like you're almost better off talking to yourselves? Does this ring true for anyone else but me?

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Character Clinic: Tamryn Caporelli

Today's clinic features Liberty's character Tamryn, who is a CEO in her early 30s who resides in a futuristic suspense novel. Her mother died or left when she was very young, and her father began to abuse her, both physically and sexually, when she hit puberty. She has since been attacked by her fiance, and after several other bad endings in relationships, she feels she's unable to see bad things in the men she dates. Her best friend goes missing after vacationing to one of Jupiter's moons, and Tamryn is intrigued by Bridger, the detective she's hired to help her look for her friend. Bridger is a virgin and has vowed to remain chaste until marriage, which in the year 2117, is unheard of.

Liberty would like to know: What would be a believable reaction from Tamryn when she learns Bridger is a virgin? Would she think he's lying? Try harder? Be completely incensed that he rejected her? And, after the novelty has worn off of the revelation, how would she likely deal with this knowledge, and the obvious change in dynamics this would create as opposed to what she's been used to in the past?

In cases such as these, when the story world is futuristic, I'm glad when authors let me know that the predominant thought on something like pre-marital sex. I guess it would be safe to think of the culture during your time period as being sort of like that of Hollywood?

Even in today's time, the culture at large looks unfavorably upon people remaining celibate until marriage. It's considered antiquated, Victorian, prudish, etc. I could well imagine someone as, um, worldly (?) as Tamryn would be incredibly incensed at her perception of being rejected. Tamryn came across in the intake form as very self-assured and confident, extremely capable, and as someone who pretty much gets what she wants. Bridger's moral stance would be hard to swallow. She might very well think he's lying, or at least say that to herself (or him) to assuage some of the smarting impact of his refusal to sleep with her.

Plus, with her history of abuse, it's not uncommon for women to use sex as a tool, as you mentioned in your intake form. This is very true to life. Women who get introduced to sex at early ages are generally more comfortable with their sexuality and able to use it to their advantage. Sexualized behavior is as natural to them as breathing. Tamryn might try to use her powers to persuade Bridger that he's made the wrong choice (your version of "try harder"). If Tamryn can externalize the rejection (meaning, he's rejected her for some other reason besides her), she'll do it. It's more ego-stroking.

The gentler Bridger lets her down, the more she might think him a tease. If he's harsh with her, she'll definitely get's just in her personality composition. But once he gets her to understand it's his moral stance, not her lack of looks of his lack of attraction to her, he'll need to show some moments of weakness (yay for the romance readers!) in order to keep her engaged. She'll be in uncharted territory, and I don't think it'd take much for her to chalk him up to being one of many crazy guys she's fallen in love with and try to walk away for a change. Hope that makes sense!

Let me know if you want to go deeper into mentioned you are thinking about having him be captured and abused. This would no doubt impact Tamryn's relationship with him, as she herself is a survivor of abuse.