Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Fighting with the Hero

I’m battling with the hero of my second book. I never wanted him to be the hero. Before I started the first book, I had five characters in mind: three women who had been almost life-long best friends and the ex-husband and the brother of one of the women. I knew that woman #1 would be paired with her ex and that woman #3 would be paired with her friend’s brother, but I didn’t have a hero for woman #2. As I was writing Book 1, I decided a secondary character (a good-looking, successful doctor) would make an ideal hero for woman #2.

There was another secondary character, one whom I saw as the bad boy of my story and a foil for my beta hero. Bad Boy was a bit of a jerk—smart-mouthed, full of himself, and an irritant to the hero. I didn’t like Bad Boy much, but I wanted to know why he was such a pain. I discovered he had a secret, and discovering his secret made him a jerk who deserved a little sympathy rather than an unmitigated jerk. About the time of this change, I wrote a scene that just seemed a gift from my muse. You need to understand that my muse has ADD, and her help is sporadic at best. But this day she was generous and focused, and she gave me a lovely little scene in which the jerk baited woman #2 before he gave her a message for the book’s heroine.

Meanwhile, it was becoming clear that the doctor wouldn’t work for woman #2. She was avoiding his calls and yawning in his face. And she kept eyeing Bad Boy, who kept inserting himself into scenes where I was sure he didn’t belong. I kept cutting these scenes, but he was persistent. Finally I gave in. He became the match for woman #2. I have been fighting with him ever since, and I hate fights.

In an effort to better understand him, I gave him a personality test, sort of Myers Briggs lite. He turned out to be an INTJ (Introverted-Intuitive-Thinking-Judging). Such types are variously known as Masterminds or Strategists. They are stubborn and critical of the status quo, have little interest in other people's thoughts or feelings, are quick to express judgments, have a vision of the future, like to be in control, and often come across as arrogant. That’s an impressively accurate description of Bad Boy.

I, on the other hand, am an INFP (Introverted-Intuitive-Feeling-Perceiving), as is woman #2. INFPs are termed Healers or Dreamers. They are sensitive and caring, make choices based on personal values, are uncomfortable with hard facts and logic, have a great need for harmony and strive to avoid conflict, and often are perceived as ignorant of reality.
Small wonder Bad Boy won’t behave as I, and the heroine, want him to. But at least now I understand him better, and my head is filled with possibilities for new conflicts between him and his heroine.

How much credence do you place in personality tests? Do you know your MB type? Have you ever thought about typing fictional characters, either those you have created or those you encounter in your reading.


Maggie Robinson w/a Margaret Rowe said...

I took something once where I'm random-something, and nothing was ever truer. :) I do think they are worthwhile, because in my years of observing people, most are very rooted in a particular way of thinking and just can't break out of it.

And Janga, you know bad boys always get the girl!

Santa said...

Resistance is futile. Embrace your bad boy because you know that all he needs is love.

As to personality tests - I think they are but one indicator of one's personality. I think you need a bit more in order to form a clearer understanding of a person.

Janga said...

Maggie, I was always skeptical until the MBI. But one of the things I was told when the MBI was introduced at a teachers' workshop was that most of the population were Sensing and didn't like change but many English teachers were Intuitives who did. Suddenly it made sense to me that why my students were always complaining about my rearranging the room and why I got bored with all those desks in the sme neat rows. :)

San, I'm trying to embrace my bad boy. Honest! If he'd only cooperate with my plans, but he keeps throwing obstacles in my way. LOL!

quantum said...

Goodness Janga, this all sounds very complicated.

I wonder if you always keep the reader's POV uppermost when plotting or pantsing along. If aiming to publish, you must be writing with some-one else's pleasure in mind and they will read linearly from beginning to end. The characters and their personalities should then be introduced at a gentle pace making it easy for the reader to absorb...unless you're emulating some of those classical Russian authors!

If you write as linearly as possible, then I would expect these conflicts to resolve themselves in a gentle natural evolutionary way.

Afraid I don't give much credence to psychology tests for fairly ordinary people. Good for identifying potential psychopaths but ordinary folk don't fit into boxes that well. For example, the respectable introverted academic may becoming a dangerous lunatic when behind the steering wheel of a car. (A gentle deep thinking Prof in my current Univ recently had his driving license suspended after 3 speeding commutes on public transport!) *grin*

Interesting to get this insight into the creative literary mind at work!

terrio said...

I'm loving reading a blog from you regarding book 2 because it means book 1 is done? Maybe? LOL! Well, I know it's done. But is it done in your mind?

I love when characters just take over. Though it's not fun when you're trying to keep them in a secondary role. I keep saying I don't write series or connected books. Every idea I have is a stand alone. But my heroine's BFF might have to have her own book. I even know (or have a very good idea) who her hero would be. They would be a pairing of serious opposites to say the least.

I can't wait to be introduced to this bad boy. He sounds very fun to write.

I've taken that test and don't remember all I came out to be, but extroverted and intuitive are for sure. I think this particular test does tell quite a bit about a person. Though the best things about us humans is our little streak of unpredictability. Keeps things interesting. :)

JulieJustJulie said...

How much credo do I place in personality tests? “I don't believe there's an atom of meaning in it.” That idea that you can actually have your personality pegged by a test have a test leaves me feeling “Curiouser and curiouser
But I don’t know … “Let me think. Was I the same when I got up this morning? I almost think I can remember feeling a little different. But if I'm not the same, the next question is 'Who in the world am I?' Ah, that's the great puzzle!” Hmm, yes it is A puzzle. The last personality quiz I took (on Facebook) said that I was Alice In Wonderland! Which is “nothing but "a pack of cards!”

Janga said...

Q, thanks for visiting here. I can promise you I'm not emulating those Russian authors, although I sometimes feel as if I have that many characters. :)

Terri, I'm not quite ready to let Book 1 go. But I've been working on Book 2 in spurts as I continue to revise. Since I write non-linearly, I can do things that would drive more organized minds to the brink. LOL! I promise when I resolve the last three problems I'm having with book 1, you will be the first to read TLWH.

Julie, your posts so often make me laugh, when they don't make me cry or turn philosophical.

As for the personality tests, "Alice," I'll repeat the Red Queen's words to the original: "I daresay you haven't had much practice," said the Queen. "When I was your age, I always did it half an hour a day. Why, sometimes, I've believed as many as six impossible things before breakfast." Practice, my dear. :)

JulieJustJulie said...

“Why, sometimes, I've believed as many as six impossible things before breakfast."

Ooohhh me too! Of ‘course I watch CNN before breakfast. And every other story has me saying “No way! That’s IMPOSSIBLE! But if its on CNN … then its gotta be true. Sigh…”

Tris said...

I love arguing with my heroes. It's amazing how we plan and plan before we start writing but when we actually start, everything changes because the hero just becomes clearer and clearer and there is no way he is going to let you get away with that (yes, I think I'm pretty insane every time I talk with my heroes *g*).

As to personality tests, I think they are fun to do. I never thought of putting my characters through personality tests. What an interesting concept. Now I just need to find a good one...

Franzeca said...

Hi Janga!

I was labeled an INTJ when I took a Briggs-Myers test, and it sounded right at the time, and yes, the "qualities" you mentioned for your bad boy are some I've been accused of... hmm.

I always find personality tests interesting, as a good test mines one's psyche and may reveal or organize information that the test taker hadn't figured out. A co-worker used to believe devoutly in the "enneagram," which recognized nine basic personality types, and yes, I was the disruptive exhibitionist there, too.

Astrology on the other hand, I think is nothing but a stale pick-up line in bars, and has no more credence than using blood type as indicative of personality.

Have fun wrestling with your bad boy. Bad boys are always entertaining, and honest, and can be surprisingly perceptive, in ways a more conventional man might not. That's why I married one so many years ago.