For the Whiners
I’m so good at whining that many of my main characters whine. But everybody likes whiny characters! Whiny children and even whiny adults are totally endearing, right?
No. Not right. And because whiny characters are something I struggle with, here are a few useful techniques I’ve picked up for transforming Whine into Winsome.
*Less talk, more action. Is he moaning about the sorry state his life is in? Fine. Cut it in half and give him a decision to make. What can he do to improve the situation? What should his next step be? Readers don’t want to languish in a black hole of depression—they want to follow someone who has agency and a desire to change his rotten lot in life.
*Give her a skill. If other people admire her for something, your reader might admire her, too. Beauty or innate goodness is not enough, because then you’re running into Mary Sue territory. Perhaps she’s a gutsy big-wave surfer, or she’s got a way with rats. (Um, those are taken. Think up your own).
|Photo courtesy Amanda Turnage|
*Save the cat (from Blake Snyder’s book of the same name). You’ve got someone really down on her luck—have her help someone else. It takes a special kind of coming out of one’s own angst to help another being, and if you can get your sadface character to help someone else, readers will be impressed.
*Give him a soft spot. What would make him fight? It’s one thing to be aw-shucks-what-a-bummer-my-life-sucks, but what sort of incident would make him take up a cause? What pisses him off? Whatever it is, do that to him. It’ll get him off his butt and back into the action.
I’m always looking to learn more about this, so if you have something that’s worked for you, please share! If you don't, I just might whine at you.