Friday, April 14, 2017

Television show raises questions about character by Jan Scarbrough

Writers are always on the lookout for a good story or an interesting character. Sometimes I find myself studying people in a restaurant or the grocery line. This weekend a new acquaintance (she’s also a life coach) commented I must know a lot about people and character—I must have put many different people in my books.

That started me asking myself—is she right? I had to admit that many of my characters are like me. Maybe the “me” I want to be, but I bet there are probably too many similarities in each of my heroines for comfort.

Also this weekend I was channel surfing and came across a program on Nat Geo WILD about the reintroduction of wolves to Yellowstone. Since I spent my summer vacation near Yellowstone in Idaho and at a Montana dude ranch thirty miles from its entrance, I watched it. Pictures of wolves chasing down weak bison are not pleasant, but as the announcer explained, wolves cull out the sick and make the herd stronger. It’s the way of the wild. All good.

But one shot showed a group of wolves surrounding a bison that put its head down and fought back. He didn’t run. According to the program, bison that stand and fight have a better chance of survival than those that turn and run.

The value of this lesson struck me immediately. How do I behave in a conflict? When I have a problem? Do I attack it head on or do I turn tail and run?


And what about my heroines? Do they stand up for themselves? I opened my website and took a look at my book page, searching through the covers of the books I’ve written. I think my heroines stand up for themselves, but not aggressively. They make changes in their lives, learn lessons, and become better and happier people. But they don’t necessarily turn and fight.


Catrin in My Lord Raven and Mel in Kentucky Flame come closest to turning and fighting. Catrin searches for the killer of her father and brother. Mel tries to escape a vindictive ex-husband. But even Mel ran at first, leaving her boyfriend, giving up her baby, and brushing aside her problems.

As a result of this weekend’s eye-openers, I’ve resolved to do it differently in future novels. I want to craft heroines who turn and fight. 

What about you? Do you like spunky heroines, ones who fight for what they want?

4 comments:

  1. Great post, Jan. I think my heroines are a lot like me. I don't turn and fight, but I don't back down, either. I hope. I'm a plodder, and even though it's an unattractive word, my heroines probably are, too.

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  2. What a fascinating post, Jan! I don't know that my heroines are like me...I've never considered it. They're more composites of young people I grew up with in a tough neighbourhood. I have them different choices than the real people did.

    My heroines may not fight for what they want but they seem to fight for what they already have and don't want to change. The heroes force the change. Maybe that's Taming of the Shrew? This is giving me lots to think about! And that's always a good thing for a writer.

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  3. Great food for thought. Perhaps my heroines are the 'me' I want to be.

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  4. Good post, Jan. I think we are of the generation who vowed never to be doormats. I know I am. I believe in standing up for what's right, what's important. Of course, being the good southern lady I am, I'd be polite while I did it. *g* What an internal battlefield manners and attitude can create.

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