Wednesday, February 16, 2011
Writer's Wednesday: The Masks We Wear
Every romance writer I know seems to hold a fundamental and apparently intrinsic optimism that real, lasting and true love is possible.
The love of your life is not only out there , but when you find him or her, that person will love you for who you really are. No matter what characteristics you display to the world – that person will take the time to find out who you truly are and love who you are.
So in our writing we want to create a love story which is so powerful that it will break down the barriers our characters have created to protect themselves from pain so that both out hero and heroine will find love as a reward for the battle they have to go through to win the prize.
Every character has a public face or persona which does not represent the inner self or true identity of the person, but is more of a disguise or protective outer shell they have created to project a specific image of themselves to the world.
In real life we all do this through our choices of clothing, accessories, hair, and the choices we make in our life and work and how we want the world to see us.
This carefully constructed public facade is the first impression or image the reader has about the character – and they have to accept the character's attitudes and actions at face value.
The character arc will not be a linear process of simple step by step change, but more of a two steps forward, one step back process, where the character resists change which is painful – especially when it is linked to the fear of revealing the very thing they have been trying to conceal.
One classic example would be the professional businesswoman with the elegant designer clothing and glossy slick accessories who strides into the room, head high, in impossibly high heels, confident and professional in every way.
Except that underneath this calm and cool exterior, she is quaking and desperate to conceal her traumatic poor childhood. This woman has had to fight every step of the way to what she has achieved, but what happens when she is faced with someone who knew her and her past and has the power to influence her future?
What happens when she is thrown into turmoil and has to change to survive? What choices does she make and how does that make her an interesting character?
Will the reader have any empathy or sympathy for her situation if they only see the external facade?
And what is the reward for being forced to expose your deep fears and hidden past?
Being loved for who you are as your true self.
The Hero or Heroine falls in love with the essence of who the character is. And is loved back in return. And that has to be worth the pain in getting there.
This is the situation the heroine of my latest Mills and Boon RIVA line book, ‘The Last Summer of Being Single’ finds herself in. Ella Martinez has made a home for herself and her young son in a French farmhouse in the Languedoc after the death of her estranged husband.
Ella may work as a housekeeper, but she is a trained pianist and singer, who spent most of her early life as a nomadic professional musician. She has had to fight hard to give her son a home in opposition to his grandparents, but that has meant sacrificing her own life and dreams.
Then into her world comes Sebastien Castellano, the stepson of the owner of the house where she works, who will challenge her life and her future in ways she had never expected. Seb thinks that his media company merger is the one thing that will bring him happiness but beneath the masks of a slick millionaire businessman lies a teenage boy whose life was riddled with heartache and loss and unanswered questions.
‘The Last Summer of Being Single’ is released in February as a RIVA title and in March as a Harlequin Romance title. You can catch Nina at her site, http://www.ninaharrington.com/ !