• Sara Massery

Writing Intriguing Characters

One of my favorite cringe-inducing characters is Asa from Too Late, by Colleen Hoover. My goal wasn't to write someone like that, to that extreme, but I wanted that goosebumps, uncomfortable feeling with one of the characters in my story. To the point where you want to scream, "What the heck are you doing? RUN AWAY." And then, you get to see how someone can get sucked into their web.

Sometimes real people in real, toxic relationships, can feel like they don't have a choice. It's the same thing with our characters! And it is such an interesting mix to see how they're stripped powerless, and then you see them later--as adults, or just older and wiser--and they've learned and regained that power and confidence. Personally, I think it sends a good message. It says, Hey. You survived this. See? Look, this will be you in five years, or ten years. You'll find someone who will treat you right. Or, hey, maybe they won't treat you as you deserve. But you'll be able to stand up for yourself now, and demand better.

That's the important part.

The following is a quick glance at my cringe-y character in my latest story, who shall remain nameless for now. It's also one of the first scenes that he's really in, alone, with my MC. It kind of maps out how their interactions in the future are going to go.

In the theater, he held my hand so tightly that I felt my bones grind together. Ten minutes in, I slid past him and bolted to the restroom. Fifteen year old me didn’t know why I was throwing up or why the sight of my red hand made my head spin. When I got back, he picked up my hand again and put it on his thigh. He grinned at me, but there was something hard about it.

And then later, in his car, he waited until I was buckled in before he leaned over and kissed me. He palmed the back of my head, pulling me into his mouth. Blood rushed in my ears.

“Open your mouth,” he whispered against my lips. When I hesitated, he nipped my lower lip. I gasped, and then his tongue was invading my mouth. I thought I would die, then, from the way my stomach flipped and my thighs hurt by how hard I squeezed them together.

All I thought about was how my mother would be nodding, pushing me forward.

He kissed me for minutes, but it felt like every second was a year. When he let go of my head, when I was able to lean away, he frowned at me. He started his car without looking at me again. Even in my driveway, nothing.

I didn’t say anything, either, as I got out of the car and went inside.

Writing is something I'm quite passionate about--but only on my terms. I hated writing for school, essays and articles, but I love writing fiction. And, now, we can add nonfiction blogging to my repertoire. Lately, I've realized I have been the most drawn toward the characters that make me cringe a bit. Not quite villains, but pretty damn close. Or, maybe, straight up villains. Also, I love angst.

Truth time. My favorite way of writing is in "snapshots."

If I could get away with it, each chapter would be 1-2 pages long. I like the idea of the reader peering into these characters' lives and seeing them in the moment, but not much more. There's so much space to maneuver, too. It's a challenge for me, too, because I get to convey their lives with choice words and I just have to hope I'm doing them justice.

So, that segment above is your snapshot of a first date. You can get a lot from it, I think, even with so few words. There is much to deduce, if you want.

I'm very excited to share more of this character (and others!) with you all.

#writing #intriguingcharacters #complexcharacters #fiction #novelwriting #fictionwriting

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