So I had an epiphany–now what? Now comes the application.
Last week Tami Cowden was the speaker at the Georgia Romance Writers meeting. Her talk was absolutely what I needed at exactly the time I needed it. She is one of the authors of the book The Complete Writer’s Guide to Heroes and Heroines which discusses the archetypes of each. Using her guidelines to identify the archetypes of my main characters I have a better idea how to write them, or rather re-write them.
Starting with Jimmy, the hero of Bend of the River, I absolutely envision him as her “Warrior:” a character committed to honor, duty and justice. That is my Jimmy, but I can see now that I wrote him too weak, too vulnerable. His vulnerability will be ok once I establish his “tenaciousness” (her word). He is wounded because his mother committed suicide, and that informs his drive to save the people he cares about. The way it is written now, he reveals that weakness too early in the story, and it undermines his power as a defender of the cause and protector of the other characters whom he loves.
Moving on to Sophie, she is without question the “Spunky Kid:” the girl looking for her place in the world. She should be characteristically sarcastic and self-depreciating, but I believe I also wrote her too weak. She is the strong one in a large family since her father died and her mother checked out of involvement with day to day living. The way I have her now she tells Jimmy about her father’s death (very ugly), revealing all of her pain, the night she meets him. Let’s face it, I was rushing it.
In my eagerness to get them together, I have her and Jimmy open up to each other too soon in their relationship, before I do the work of establishing the characters independently of each other. Back to the drawing board. You can’t have a good fantasy without romantically fantastic heroes and heroines.