What a wonderful meeting we had this last Saturday!
In the morning, we had a guest in PAW, Dawn Vaeoso of All Romance eBooks. I was already familiar with ARe, but mostly as a reader. Dawn and Debra led a lively discussion and I think we all learned something. I missed the morning workshop by Jackie Barbosa, but heard it was excellent.
But I want to riff a little on something our afternoon speaker, James Scott Bell said in his fabulous talk. When talking about creating unforgettable characters, he listed several characteristics that will make your characters jump off the page:
In passing, he noted that the last quality, nobility, is underused, but also discussed characters who are willing to sacrifice to attain their goals or to save someone else. I was busy listening and taking notes, but still thought at the time that nobility isn’t so rare in romance. I’ve been in critique and plot groups for years and can’t begin to count the number of times we’ve been plotting, usually toward the end of the book, only to have someone ask: What is he/she going to sacrifice? Or at least be willing to sacrifice?
Of course, the classic example of character sacrifice is The Gift of the Magi. Such a beautiful, romantic story. But that kind of sacrifice isn’t at all uncommon in romance. We’ve all read romances where the hero or heroine jumps in the path of a bullet to save the other. But it needn’t be a life or death matter. Is one willing to give up a job opportunity to be with the other? Or willing to uproot his/her life and move far away? There are lots of possibilities.
Here’s how the mutual sacrifice works in Rogue’s Hostage, my captive story set during the French & Indian War. Toward the end of the book, Jacques and Mara are trapped in the besieged city of Quebec. Mara’s brother, Gideon, is with the besieging British Army. Jacques knows the situation is dire and tries to have Mara ransomed to the British. He is willing to give up the woman he loves in order to keep her safe. When things go wrong, Mara risks her relationship with her brother, her only living relative, to save the man she loves. I could say more, but that would be giving away a spoiler, so I’ll refrain.
What do you think? Are romance characters more noble than most?