What a character would do…

Or rather be caught dead than doing. Character development is a complicated aspect of writing. Like in our own lives, a glaring inconsistency draws a ton of attention, especially on paper (or e-ink). This post was long overdue, and a minor criticism at my last writers group meeting motivated me to tackle the subject. What was the criticism? My protagonist, male…a former deep-cover operative, pulled a bottle of Riesling out of the refrigerator to share with his wife. Apparently, men don’t drink Riesling. Not even in 2005. And I thought it would go nicely with the Thai food they were eating. I was a little defensive, maybe a little hurt…I like Riesling (not a first or second choice, but it does pair well with spicy food). Alas, everyone agreed that a beer was more appropriate. This is a character compromise I am more than happy to make…if only this was their only suggestion about my new story, Black Flagged. PREVIEW. This is a pretty minor criticism compared to some of the critique I have received over the months regarding the protagonist of my first book, The Jakarta Pandemic. Alex Fletcher, decorated war veteran, and former Marine Corps officer, grates on

Don’t characterize my characters…just yet.

Good plot. Immersing detail. Popular genre.  Quick tempo. All the trappings of a worthy read…right? While these qualities in a book might draw you in, and keep you there for a spell, nothing, in my humble view, detaches the reader quicker than hollow characters. I’ve read the reviews (not on mine thankfully…yet). “Cardboard, one-dimensional, flat, undeveloped, unrealistic…” The list goes on. Unrealistic?   Now this description captures my attention the most, because it reminds me of something Stephen King said about writing good stories. I am paraphrasing at my worst, but he said something to the effect that an interesting story pits normal people against extraordinary circumstances, not extraordinary people against normal situations. Realism defined? I don’t know, but I like reading stories about characters that have to struggle to overcome an extraordinary problem. Is James Bond one of these characters? At first you’d probably say “no way!” I might agree, but I’d argue that he is an extraordinary person pitted against insanely extraordinary circumstances. It’s the same formula, just presented in a higher octane fashion, which is why it works…more so in the recent Bond films. Ever read a book where the protagonist is an unstoppable, unbeatable hero? Mentally