Be mean. Be very mean.
If you read much great genre fiction at all, you’ll soon realize the plots that really hold your attention thwart your characters, over and over. In mysteries it’s lies, subterfuge, and often the detective’s own faults that stand as obstacles. In urban fantasies it might be a series of large, hairy, mystical creatures. In science fiction it can take shape as alien enemies, prejudices, or science itself.
In my position as an editor for the speculative fiction magazine Electric Spec, I see a lot of milquetoast characters whose problems and obstacles don’t amount to much. Not that it has to be all death and destruction (though I do love me some death and destruction). However, the obstacles should mean something to the characters. It should cause them pain. It should play to their personal weaknesses, preferably forcing them to eventually overcome them.
I have a rule: if it’s tough to write, then you’re probably on the right track. But truly, it was only in the past year or so that I really started working with “what’s the worst that could happen?” in mind.
In LOST PRINCE, my recent release, I purposely put both characters in bad spots. I started by creating horrible backstories for each character. Prince Aric has been on the run for two years, doing his best to keep his identity secret while hunting down the man he believes betrayed his world, resulting in its utter destruction. Katriel, who is AWOL from the omni-powerful Coalition, is the victim of a pirate attack that leaves her hopelessly, desperately in debt to her boss. Both have both done horrible things in the name of war; unknowingly, some of their worst actions were taken against each other. So with histories like these, I had to construct even huger obstacles. But, with such rich backstories, it wasn’t so difficult. It’s as if the characters themselves gave me plenty of material to mine. Which is likely as it should be. Tight stories feel this way: as if that particular story could only happen to that particular character. It felt that way to me as I wrote it. Hopefully it feels that way to the reader, as well.
Visit Sex Scenes at Starbucks to find out more about LOST PRINCE, read an excerpt, and learn about the author. HYPERLINK "http://betsydornbusch.com" http://betsydornbusch.com
Buy the book at Whiskey Creek Press http://www.whiskeycreekpress.com/torrid/index.php?main_page=product_info&cPath=5&products_id=591&zenid=fff20341650a950e9a437f9254289eda
or for your Kindle http://www.amazon.com/Lost-Prince-Salt-Road-ebook/dp/B005AL3U24/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1310480606&sr=8-1
The only thing that’s kept Alaric, the so-called Lost Prince of Calixte, from giving into his grief over his beloved homeworld is the thought of revenge against the man who betrayed his people. But he couldn’t be more wrong about Haydn, who actually saved two thousand Calixten soldiers from certain death and secreted them on an inhospitable planet. There, they’ve launched a fledgling rebellion against the Coalition that rules six galaxies, including the lucrative Salt Road. They only need their prince to lead them.
Alaric needs a pilot to get him to his soldiers, someone too desperate to betray him. Katriel, a hotshot deserter pilot enslaved to Haydn by debt, is perfect for the job. But neither Katriel nor Alaric realize how the battle over Calixte binds them closer than blood, and when they find out, their collision will send shockwaves through the universe.