Friday, February 13, 2015

CRIMINAL TENDENCIES

Time for this month's question once again. You may have forgotten at this point that it all started back last spring when four local mystery authors, Barbara Fradkin, R.J. Harlick, Mary Jane Maffini, and Linda Wiken were panelists at a Capital Crime Writers' workshop at the Ottawa Public Library. We had a great time but we also had a great stack of questions and by the end of our time, hadn't gotten through many of them. So, we're tackling them now. One a month. Sometimes we're all able to take part but at other times life interfers -- things like deadlines or even, holidays! -- so this week we're a threesome. Here's the question and our answers follow:


Protagonist, sidekick, villain -- which do you prefer to write?



MARY JANE MAFFINI:

I am most at home with the protagonist. The protagonist carries your values and is the person the reader cares about (if all goes well) but really, the sidekicks (quirky, irritating or whatever) and the villains (over the top, vengeful, evil, again whatever) are much more fun to write. Especially villains because you can get rid of them at the end of a book. Begone!


LINDA WIKEN:

This may turn out to be another question with total agreement. I find the protagonist the easiest to write, especially in a series, because the author has to get into his or her psyche right off the bat and that expands over time. And, if you're going together on a long journey of several books, this should be someone you like. Unless you're writing an anti-hero, it's not difficult to come up with a likeable character. Writing the villain can be liberating with an outlet for any deep-seated neuroses. :) No one would ever attribute those to the author's personality! The sidekick is the most fun because this person gets to be sympathetic, empathetic, play the role of a sounding board, and give the protagonist a good kick in the rear when necessary. Everyone need a reliable sidekick.


BARBARA FRADKIN:

Villains let us plumb our dark side and misbehave outrageously. It’s a great way for us writers, who are usually gentle, law-abiding, pacifist souls, to kick loose and be bad. Sidekicks are steadfast, smart and loyal, the friend we wish we could have at our side. But it is the protagonist who really holds our heart. When I write, even though I use multiple points of view, the protagonist is the one in whose shoes I walk and whose feelings and passions I share. Not only do I have to care about my protagonist and all the ordeals I am subjecting them to, but in order to spend months or years in their company, I have to enjoy them too.

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