|Jane Austen - Image courtesy of Wikicommons|
Emotional complexity is what separates the great characters from the cardboard cut-outs in our prose. It’s easy, as an author, to fall into the trap of wanting to make your main characters the clear-cut heroines and heroes of your story, giving them simple motivations and impeccable morality. But characters that do everything they should tend to fall flat. One thing all of my favorite classic woman authors have taught me is that heroines with feet of clay often have the best character arcs. L. M. Montgomery might not make everyone’s list of Great Women Authors, but for me, reading about an impertinent red-head with a quick temper and her head in the clouds taught me more about creating wonderful characters that are remembered by millions a hundred years later than just about anything else. And when you look into Anne’s history and the emotional battleground that was her childhood, you begin to see how Montgomery subtly deals with the plight of orphans and the abuses they were subject to in her time. But she does it through an intimate portrayal of one girl and the way her life was turned around rather than examining the big picture of the problem, like Dickens did in Oliver Twist. Both books have impact, but the Anne books touch a whole different level of affection in us, and spend more time showing us how everything turned out okay in the end rather than dwelling on the darkness.
|L.M. Montgomery - courtesy of Wikicommons|
So as you craft your story, whatever the genre and theme, take some time to consider the emotional complexity of your characters. Learn from the shining examples of women writers who have managed to reach a deeper level in the hearts of readers through the unique perspective they provide.
|Merry Farmer is a history nerd, a hopeless romantic, and an award-winning author of thirteen novels. She is passionate about blogging and knitting, and lives in suburban Philadelphia with her two cats, Butterfly and Torpedo. Connect with Merry at her Facebook Author Page and Twitter.|