Thursday, November 5, 2015

R is for Realism

Margaret talks about characters being realistic.

Realism in characters is essential. No writer wants their readers to think they would never behave in the way they are being portrayed. Whether it’s the heroine or the hero they need to come across as real people.  Romance is invariably written from the heroine’s point of view so she needs to be someone the reader can identify with, go through everything with. They want to feel what the characters are going through. It is the author’s responsibility to make everything seem so real that the reader believes it is actually happening.

All of this is easier said than done but that is the challenge of writing.  Below is an extract from my book The Bodyguard where Abby is having dinner with Temple, a man whom her brother had secretly asked to look after her. I like to think the scene comes alive for the reader. Abby speaks first.

“You’ve asked me a lot of questions so it’s only fair I should ask you.”

“Right,” he said, when she refused to back down. “I was born in Surrey, educated at Oxford, got my first job working in IT until I decided it was not for me. Then, as you already know, I joined the army. Afterwards I became my own boss. Is that enough for you?”

How to write a potted history of your life in as few words as possible, thought Abby. But at least it gave her some insight into his background. She took a tiny sip of her drink, relishing the warmth as it slid down her throat. “It doesn’t tell me what your job is now. I refuse to believe you’re an odd job man. You’re too well educated.”

“OK.” He shrugged his shoulders in defeat. “I look after people. I’m a professional bodyguard.” And after a slight pause when she said nothing, simply looked at him with incredulous wide eyes, he added, “I run my own business. I liked the job so much that I set up a company and now employ many good men.”

Her heart drummed a rhythm against her ribs and she began to put two and two together. Her brother had known the danger he was putting her in. It’s why he had contacted Temple, and Temple had lied when he said he was the one who had got in touch with him. “Is that why Martin asked you to look out for me?”

“Heaven’s no!” he exclaimed at once, looking appalled by her assumption. “Meeting you was my idea. When he told me you were coming to Paris on business I thought it would be a good opportunity to finally meet you.”

Hope was unsure whether to believe him, except that there was nothing but sincerity in his voice. “Did my brother tell you I was delivering a parcel for him?”  

“He did. He also mentioned that you had some business in Paris, though he didn’t say what. Is it a terrible disappointment missing your trade fair?” He leaned back in his seat studying her intently.

“Not terrible,” she admitted. “Frustrating. I’d been looking forward to seeing some new products.”

“And I dragged you away?” There was a hint of a smile on his lips as he spoke, suggesting that spending time in his company should be far more enjoyable. “Do you forgive me?”

She grimaced then gave a slow smile. “Considering what I’ve found out since, yes.”

A shadow crossed his face and she almost regretted bringing up the subject except that it remained high on her mind. She still didn’t think her life would have been in real danger if she had insisted on delivering the parcel. There would have been no menacing phone call. It would have been a simple job just handing it over. Except now she couldn’t get out of her head the fact that Temple was a bodyguard. Did she really believe his story that her brother hadn’t asked him to protect her? It seemed like too much of a coincidence.



  1. Hope sounds very realistic and very practical too. And you're right, i the reader doesn't find our characters realistic and relatable, they won't keep reading.

    1. Thank goodness our characters come alive for us when we are writing about them.

  2. I agree 100% with this, Margaret. If the characters don't seem real to the reader, he/she will lose interest and not care what happens to them.

    1. It's part of the fun, isn't, creating believable characters? As writers we live the part we have created and become that person.

    2. I go through a whole gamut of emotions when I'm writing, just like my characters do!

  3. I'll add my agreement as well. If characters aren't real, readers can't relate.

    That said, I like my heroes to be a bit 'larger than life' in the sense that I want him to be better than any real man! :)

    1. That's true about heroes, Debra. Definitely larger than life characters but whatever happens they always come out good in the end.

  4. Sorry I'm late. Just got back from craft show and dishes washed up for tomorrow.
    I agree, Margaret, heroines need to be relatable. Hope seems like a thoughtful woman.