Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Temptation Tuesday: Make 'Em Miserable

Please welcome Allie Pleiter to the Pink Heart Society!  Thanks for joining us, Allie!

Anyone who knows me knows my number one temptation is yarn. As in the thing I knit. It’s my obsession, my passion, my craft, the thing I’m never without.

As I writer, though, I have another guilty pleasure: making my characters miserable. Why? Because we love characters who go through the ringer in books. We’ll pull for the hero under the gun and for the heroine who’s had the rug pulled out from under her. To be honest, part of the fun of being a writer is having the chance to make folks genuinely miserable before we make them deliriously happy. It’s a very productive place to take our your frustrations. And so, in the spirit of confession (and because you may not really be interested in hearing about all my yarn adventures, although if you are go to www.destiKNITions.blogspot.com and you’ll get more than you ever wanted), I’m going to share my top five favorite ways to make characters miserable.

1. Meet his match

A dominant, controlling guy deserves to lose his heart to a woman who won’t let the world push her around. We love to watch his character grow when he falls for the gal who won’t fall for his usual tricks. He has to dig deep, to relinquish some control, and pursue partnership instead of mastering manipulation. She’ll make him a better man by the end. Think Matthew McConaughey in How to Lose a Guy in Ten Days.

2. Take away her toys

Pluck her away from her comfortable surroundings, and your heroine will discover new abilities (and annoyances) in the challenge. She may even do it willingly, in an attempt to change her life, but when it ends up costing her more than she imagined, it’ll reveal her true character. It’s that true character that makes love happen. Think Reese Witherspoon in Sweet Home Alabama.

3. Give him nothing left to lose--or everything to lose

The bigger the battle, the mightier the hero. When the woman he loves costs him everything, we’ll cheer him on to his just reward. An epic love sweeps us away from the ordinary in our lives. Throw in a few extra challenges, like a war or a sinking cruise liner, and we’ll love him to the end. Think Daniel Day-Lewis in Last of the Mohicans or Leonardo DiCaprio in Titanic.

4. Let her fall on her face

Bumbles in the name of love are, well, lovable. How many of us can recall times we’ve been that “fool for love?” Let her go to extremes in the name of impressing her beloved--we already know he loves her warts and all. Have her lie to save him when the truth is actually what’s needed most of all. Let her affections drive her to irrational, consequence-laden behavior, because we know that resolution will be sweet indeed. Think Renee Zellweger in Bridget Jones Diary.

5. Make him think he’s no good for her

Oh, we love our dark and brooding heroes, bent on denying himself his true love because he’s too dangerous, unworthy, too wounded or, say, a vampire. We know she’s up to the task of loving him, but he’s unwilling to risk hurting her. We’ll watch him rip his heart out of his chest for want of her, and we’ll break out the tissues when he finally allows her inside his dark and tormented soul. Think Robert Pattinson in Twilight or Tobey Maguire in Spiderman.

Every one of these miserable moments paves the way for a happy ending. Mac and Mary make each other supremely miserable before they make each other blissfully happy in Bluegrass Christmas. Because where’s all the fun if they’re happy the whole time? Remember what they say...”you always hurt the one you love.” And when a whole lotta hurt brings a whole lotta healing, you’ve got yourself a keeper of a book.

I'll give away a signed copy of Bluegrass Christmas to one commenter!


An Old Fashioned Christmas...

That’s what led new believer Mary Thorpe to start over in quaint Middleburg, Kentucky. As director of the church’s Christmas pageant, Mary’s job is to bring the townspeople together, to remind them what the season is really about. But everyone is all riled up over one very handsome man: the man daring to run against Middleburg’s popular long-standing mayor. Mac MacCarthy wants change. Mary wants things to stay as they are. Is there a happy medium? Both Mac and Mary are in for one very big Christmas surprise.

Visit Allie at www.alliepleiter.com


  1. OOh, I LOVE Christmas stories. ABout the only time of year I take an afternoon for me, and sit comfortably reading, with a nice box of chocs close at hand (well, it IS Christmas!)

  2. Love the examples you gave. We all like the brooding bad boys don't we? And happy endings are fab - we just don't want to get there too quickly!

  3. Tradition vs Change- I like the conflict inherent in accepting the need for change.

    I like Christmas to carry on family traditions but I feel that change is good especially with stagnant politicians.

    People are hesistant to accept change. We like the familiar but that doesn't mean that it's the best thing for us.
    Sounds like an adorable Christmas story!!

  4. Ooh Allie thanks for this fabulous list!! Gonna print it off for the keeper file!


  5. Thanks for the comments. Hey, everyone, leave a few more, because I'll draw a winner for a copy of BLUEGRASS CHRISTMAS from those who leave a comment! After all, what's Christmas without a gift?

  6. yikes, I almost missed this. I love Christmas stories and this sounds like a wonderful read with the two in for a big Christmas surprise. Aren't Christmas pageants nice to see!!

    I, for one, don't take to drastic changes too well, lol.

  7. "Both Mac and Mary are in for one very big Christmas surprise."

    I just love surprises (of the "good" kind)! I don't know if I've ever had a big CHRISTMAS surprise, though! Oh!!!! I was presented with my engagement ring on Christmas Day, so I bet that counts (even though I didn't say yes until a few days later -- I was 21 and not prepared for marriage).

    I look forward to reading about Mary and Mac. Although I've never organized a Christmas pageant, I HAVE organized a great number of other events, so I'd like to read "your take" on this!

    Thanks for adding a great giveaway to your blog!

    PS Thanks for making your characters miserable and not US, ha ha!

  8. Robynl, you've won the drawing for a copy of my book! Please email your snail mail address to me at alliepleiter@comcast [dot] net. Congratulations and Merry Christmas!
    And thanks to everyone for a lovely visit at Pink Heart Society.