So you can read my books

Friday, November 26, 2010



Victor has been spotted with his ghoul friend, Alice, at MUSINGS OF A PALIINDROME : }

Good guys are boring?," I asked some days back.

Nickie, my co-worker, nodded sagely. "Yep. Boooooring."

We'd been talking my disenchantment with Sookie in the TRUE BLOOD novels.

Bill, her first lover, had suffered near death twice for her, but she is attracked to sociopath vampire, Eric.

"Vampire Bill is boring while Eric is just bad and sexy."

"Uh, he tore apart a guy who was just trying to escape being chained in his cellar.

And then, he got upset when the man's blood ruined his hair's highlighting."

Nickie giggled, "That was so cute."

"What if the guy had been your kid brother? Still cute?"

"Oh that guy was a jerk. He had it coming."

"And the two little children Eric looked down as munchies toward the end of season two? Did they have it coming?"

"Oh, you're as boring as vampire Bill." And Nickie hurried off to try saving LEGEND OF THE SEEKER.

Our conversation got me thinking on how difficult it is to write a non-boring hero or heroine. But being good boring?

Earl Warren, Chief Justice of the Supreme Court, once wrote : Everything I did in my life that was worthwhile, I caught hell for.

I don't know about you, but that's pretty much how it's been for me.

So Niki and actors who moan that good guys are boring don't really mean boring in the obvious sense.

As writers we have to look at heroes through the reader's eyes. And what do they want of their heroes?

To live vicariously through them.

And who wants to suffer through routine living second-hand? We get enough of that up close and personal.

Our failure with heroes is that we make them routine.

What do the readers want from the hero of the novel they're reading?

To live dangerously and to have fun through them by :

Dialogue :

How often have you been stung in a situation, only to come up with the perfect comeback HOURS after the fact?

Think CON-AIR when

Cameron Poe says to agent Larkin :

"Sorry boss, but there's only two men I trust. One of them's me. The other's not you."

Or with Robert B. Parker when Spenser says :

"...You have any suggestions, make them. I'm in charge but humble. No need to salute when you see me."

Fraser said, "Mind if we snicker every once in a while behind your back?"
"Hell, no," I said. "Everyone else does."

— Robert B. Parker (The Widening Gyre)

Or when Spenser walks into a TV station's boardroom to see three lawyers sitting on a couch beside one another.

"Which one of you speaks no evil?," I asked. (A Savage Place)

{Side-bar} :

University professor turned writer, Robert B. Parker, had thought-provoking things to say about writers, literature, and life :

“It was not just that Ross Macdonald taught us how to write;

he did something much more, he taught us how to read, and how to think about life, and maybe, in some small, but mattering way, how to live.”

"Being a professor and working are not the same thing. The academic community is composed largely of nitwits.

If I may generalize. People who don't know very much about what matters very much, who view life through literature rather than the other way around.”

“The advantage of writing a series is that it probably replicates,

for lack of a better word, real life more than most fiction

because most people have a history and know people and come and go and you have a chance to play with the characters and not just the protagonist.

It gives you the opportunity to develop--

lapsing back into academe for a moment--a whole fictive world. Gee, I love saying that now, just keeping my hand in. Fictive world!.”

"I sit down every day and write five pages on my computer.

At some point I found that not outlining worked better than outlining. The outline had become something of a limitation more than it was a support.

When I did the Raymond Chandler book, Poodle Springs, which was in the late eighties, I was trying to do it as Chandler did it,

and since Chandler didn't outline then I thought I won't outline.

If you read Chandler closely you can see that he didn't outline. What the hell happened to that chauffeur in THE BIG SLEEP?

I would recommend to the beginning writer that they should outline because they probably don't have enough self-confidence yet.

But I've been writing now since 1971 and I know that I can think it up. I know it will come."

"It's tempting to say the Ph.D. didn't have an effect, but it's not so. I think whatever resonance I may be able to achieve is in part simply from the amount of reading and learning that I acquired along the way."

But I digress ...

What, besides saying snappy dialogue, do readers want to do through their heroes?

To do the extraordinary.

Even if it is in ordinary circumstances. Spit in the eye of the bully. Tweak the nose of a snobbish boss.

Take this scenario :

A tired stone mason sits at a bar run by one of his few friends. Another man sits down beside him. He never looks at our hero, but he pushes a thick manila envelope over to him.

He whispers, "Ten thousand now. Ten thousand after she's dead."

He gets up and slowly walks away. Our hero hurriedly opens the envelope. Sure enough there is the money. And a blown-up photo of a woman from her driver's license.

Our hero gets up to follow the man to see if he can get the license plate number of his car to give to the police. The man is already outside -- getting into a police car.

What does our hero do? What would you do? And so starts the Dean Koontz novel, THE GOOD GUY. (Hey, the title even fits in with my own title of this post.)

There is a hero inside all of us ... if we only know where to look. There is a magentism to your hero of your novel ... if you know where to look. And where is that?

In your heart, friend. In your heart.
And in the spirit of this post and the holidays :


  1. Inspiring as always! I totally need to work on my characters and bad guys, this has motivated me to do so!

    Have a great weekend.


  2. Mia : Thanks. Our characters are the heart of our novels. I know I read Spenser's adventure when they came out not caring what the mystery was : I just wanted to watch and listen to Spenser, Hawk, and Susan spar verbally and physically. And you have a good weekend, too. Go check out Victor's romp at MUSINGS OF A PALINDROME, why don't ya?

  3. We ARE intrigued by the BAD guy. But since no one is completely good... Well, there are some in the world who are close but they wouldn't be in a novel, unless maybe they're involved in something evil. "I would never write about a character who isn't at the end of his rope." I can't at the moment think who said this, but I agree. In literature, if the hero is "good," then something not so good has to happen. There has to be suspense, tension or the reader says ho-hum and closes the book!

    Okay. You got me thinking. You always do. You write the most amazing posts!!!

  4. Okay, first things first. Yep, girls are drawn to bad guys, but it's the good guys they keep. Too often, they're 2 dimensional. They got to have some drive, some angst, some BACKBONE! So great advice there.

    Now, for the other hand. *tweaking your nose* Don't watch Trueblood. If you do anything, read the books. They're hilarious and not steeped in the muck like the tv show. I'm assuming you're talking about the show because you mentioned 'season' and referred to Eric as a sociopath.

    In the books, Bill is a lying wimp and it's Eric, yes, a bad boy, that truly loves Sookie. He TAKES CARE OF HER. Bill has all that money, but it's Eric that fixes her driveway and buys her a coat and risks his life to save her over and over.

    *shaking my head and grinning*

  5. I know at least one fantasy series I became bored with because the hero was too perfect and made few mistakes. He was too sure of himself and too sure everything he did was the right thing.
    I like heroes who are doing the best they can with what they have and sometimes fail.
    Love Robert Parker though Jesse Stone is my favorite.

  6. Ann : That's quite the compliment, thanks. Yes, good guys are interesting if they're done right because their nature has them doing the right thing at the worst possible time : being compassionate during Hitler's rule. Have a great weekend.

    Susan : It was the love and wit between Susan and Spenser that drew me plus his friendship with the deadly Hawk. Jesse made me want to grab him by the arm and go, "Your ex-wife is a half-person. You aren't. Go forward. Leave her behind like a car accident!" Thanks for visiting and chatting!

    I read Bill differently in the books. He fought by her side against the dark fae. I just got the vibes from novel Sookie that she'd been without male attention for so long, she wanted to man-hop with all the hot bodies that showed interest. But then, I'm a guy. What can you expect? We stick together. LOL

  7. I quite like heroes/people who are 'nice' funnily enough. Because normally, below the surface is a tiger pacing its cage. We as writers just need to exaggerate the flaws. Easily said than done, I know ...

    Another gem of a post, dear Roland.

    PS. yes, I have heard of the phrase 'hat in hand'. :)

  8. Word Crafter : I'm at work and I unintentionally left your name out of my answer to you. Oops. I was told in the book after Bill's near-fatal defense of Sookie, he asked for her touch to take away his pain and mend his body quicker and she said no to even a cuddle -- even though he was her first love, had almost died for her, and was in great pain.

    Ouch. I much prefer Mercy Thompson in Patricia Briggs' dark vampires, werewolves, and darker fae urban fantasies.

    But I am a romantic. Even if my first love had treated me badly, if I found myself in Sookie's position, I would at least hug the dying girl. LOL.

  9. Wendy : Good to know about the hat in hand. Here we call soft drinks cokes no matter the brand -- don't you call them fizzies? Or am I being fooled by all those tourist books I read on New Zealand, dreaming of going there?

    Yes, under the nicest folks there often resides a tiger of sorts. My friends say they know if I see someone hurting a child in my presence, and my voice goes very soft, and my words come out very slow, they better step in before I do! My friends watch out for me. LOL

    Have a great weekend, Rolannd

  10. Interesting post, yep! It's good to round out any character, and mix and match "good" and "bad" elements. (Still, I find it difficult to read this blog with the white on black; am I the only one?)

  11. Man-hop....that's a polite euphemism, lol. And yeah, you're likely right about her being alone and wanting male company. I forgot about the fae. I just liked that Eric did the little things....and I'm trying to figure out which book this is in...?

  12. Yes, indeed we do call them 'fizzy drinks' in New Zealand. Ghastly stuff. I'm a water or wine kinda gal ...

    I'm in the same opinion regarding cruelty, whether it be children or animals. God help them if I'm around too.

    Enjoy your weekend, Roland.

  13. Thank you Roland this made feel not strange. Being a novice writer I tried the outline thing but it choked me. The story/book I have in my head comes from me. My imagination, my good and especially my bad.

    This post was sort of a validation for me, Thanks!
    Jules @ Trying To Get Over The Rainbow

  14. Jules : Each of us has to write in a way that helps us to put our heart and skill onto paper the most creative way. Not outlining certainly worked for Chandler and Parker. I'm glad you got something positive out of my post.

    Wendy : I see we're of a same mind on two more things. I like tea iced or hot -- I'm drinking a cup of hot tea right now. And cruely to children or animals is my hot spot.

    wORDS cRAFTER : Bill fought the fae for Sookie in the next to last book. I stopped reading the series then. I highly recommend Briggs' Mercy Thompson books : it is told through her eyes, there are two attractive werewolf males competing for her hand, and she is the last Native American coyote shifter. In her world, the Brother Grimm stories were all real, the fae are not our friends, the vampires rule from the shadows like crime bosses. Start with the first MOON CALLED :

    You can get a used paperback for a penny! How neat is that?

    Carol : Sorry about the difficulty in reading my blog. I experimented with a trial blog but nearly lost all my old posts and original blog -- that scared me! If you increase your font size to 125% it seems to help. I am a man of high hopes and low tech, sorry.

  15. oh, everyone, come visit Victor and Alice and see what mischief they're up to in Hannah's MUSING OF A PALINDROME

    It's sort of like Peter Pan with Tinkerbell hurt, your comments will help keep the ghosties away from Victor and Alice.

  16. This is a great reminder to make our hero as interesting as our villian! I think all too often that is what happens, writers don't invest enough time into the hero. If I come across one more brooding hero I may scream. Villians don't brood, they get even. That is attractive!