Anyhow, today I want to talk about sympathetic characters. Specifically how to create one.*
1. Give them a puppy.
2. Give them red hair.
3. Give them zits and glasses (works best in YA novels.)
4. Make them tip the scale.
* Obviously this list is meant purely in jest.
I've been receiving a lot of conflicting advice regarding Hidden in Shadows, stemming from Lorna, the MC. For one thing, she's an assassin, definitely an anti-heroine., automatically making her less sympathetic. (Btw, can anyone think of some good stories with anti-heroines? I want to read some for research but can't think of any off the top of my head.)
I had two versions of the opening scene, where Lorna hunts and kills a man. In version A, I mention immediately that the man is a druggie who beat his kill, almost trying to force the reader to align him/herself with Lorna. But I was told that it was basically an infodump (the paragraph about the druggie) and that I should sprinkle in the details as to why Lorna was killing him.
I agreed. I also pared down the descriptions more, thinking that Lorna would be more focused at the task at hand, killing a target, so I dropped hints that he was a druggie. But now Lorna wasn't sympathetic enough, even though I have her reflect on the druggie beating his child after she kills him.
So now I’m not sure what to do with the scene. I still think that having Lorna reflect on the druggie would be out of character. Basically, I’m not sure how quickly I have to make Lorna a sympathetic character, nor how exactly to do about showing it.
Because of her profession, does she have to be sympathetic right away on page one? Or by the end of the first scene?
Maybe this is because I’m sleep deprived but is it so wrong that I’m actually thinking about giving Lorna a puppy in scene two?
I’ll have a more serious post on sympathetic characters on Tuesday.