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Wet Noodle Posse | Blog

Friday, May 22, 2009

Q&A Friday!

Since May is also the month where we celebrate motherhood, which is close kin to sisterhood, we'd like to take this Q&A to talk about mothers in relation to characters in our novels.

As writers, we have to know our characters before we begin OR we come to know them through writing our first draft. Whether planners or pantsers, we have to create our hero and heroine's back story and discover how they became who they are when the story begins for the reader.

One of the most important past or on-going relationships to figure out for our heroes and heroines is that between mother and daughter or mother and son. Even if our heroine is an orphan, we have to understand how the absence of a mother affects her. Does this orphaned heroine have a mother figure in her life or is she a complete loner? Does our heroine hate herself for causing her mother's death? Does our hero's overbearing mother drive away all his girlfriends?

How do you go about creating the mother backstory for your characters? What sort of mothers do you tend to give your heroes and heroines? Do you notice any patterns?



At 7:20 PM, Blogger Judy said...

The mothers in my stories vary, from ideal to worse case scenario, but each influences my hero/heroine either to follow their example or do everything the opposite. I agree wholeheartedly that mothers (present or not) influence, as do fathers.

At 10:48 PM, Blogger Christine said...

Ah, the infamous mother. Well, I tried to write a fictional mother who had wonderful attributes because, well, she was "fictional." And my dear Brit CP said, "she's not very motherly" and I said, "I thought she was rather nice compared to mine." I took the mom out of the book and rewrote it without a mom at all.

I can't write nice mothers... too fictional for me.

At 11:54 PM, Blogger Terry McLaughlin said...

What interesting questions, Mo :-).

In looking back through my books, I realized that in six of the seven published so far, the heroine's mother appears as a major secondary character--a couple of them with romances of their own (one of these secondary romances was with a younger man).

You know those silly rules some people spout when they're discussing writing? Someone told me once that it isn't a good idea to put a mother in a book, because her relationship with the heroine might distort the story in some way. I must have decided to test that rule ;-).

My "moms" have fallen into two groups: the sympathetic mom who plays a mentor role, and the mom who serves as a source of tension or conflict for the heroine.

One of the two "conflict" moms was emerging from widowhood and heading right into a mid-life crisis--which made her romance fun to write (although not so much fun for the poor guy who was trying to convince her to settle back down, with him).

The one book of mine that doesn't include a mom features the maternal grandmother in the mother's place--close!

One of the things I love about writing mothers (or grandmothers) is the mix of generations--comparing and contrasting attitudes, experiences, memories. Layering communities can enrich a story.

At 10:08 AM, Blogger Mo H said...

Interesting that the hero/heroine is either like the mother or opposite. It makes me think of all the things I said I wouldn't do like my mom--better said than done! My sisters think I'm just like her.

At 10:09 AM, Blogger Mo H said...

So was the book better without the mother character? Just curious.

At 10:11 AM, Blogger Mo H said...

That's pretty cool that you've been exploring mother relationships in so much of your published work. How do fathers fare?

At 2:14 PM, Blogger Terry McLaughlin said...

Fathers aren't faring so well in my books so far, Mo. Only one survived (the dad in the first book). The moms after that have been widows.

Now that I think about it, I've killed off quite a few of the heroes' fathers, too :-\.

I hope I don't sound sound too murderous--three of the seven books to date are a series, so it's the same widowed mom in those three.

I'm working on a proposal that reverses the trend--an updated Cinderella story. The heroine's widower father has recently married an "evil" stepmother.

At 3:43 PM, Blogger Judy said...

Actually, Mo, in my case (as my sister proved) if I do things the opposite it will be much healthier. I empathize with Christine, as my "follow-their-example" moms are a combination of wonderful women I have known through the years. I have noticed that a lot of romance novels do leave both parents out of the picture.


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