I’ve been reading “Bullies, Bastards & Bitches” by Jessica Page Morrell in stages for a couple of weeks now. Unlike most other books about writing I’ve read, I never managed to just start at the beginning and then read it till I reach the end. I’ve browsed through the chapters, finding all of them so interesting I couldn’t wait until I reached them ‘the normal way’. Now I force myself to read it from beginning to end.
The book is extremely fascinating to me, because I believe it’s much closer to my kind of writing than all the other books about the topic I’ve read so far. I have never found it hard to create new characters. I usually start with a character, not a scene or a concept for a story or something like that, and then think about what kind of story could happen to that character. Where one character appears, others usually follow, enemies as well as friends and allies.
Up until I stumbled over this book, all the books about writing I’ve read concentrated on story. I work out story lines, chapters, scenes and so on once I know where the characters are going, but usually, I don’t start with a scene or a basic story. So I always felt a bit left out, because as ingenious as for instance “First Draft in 30 Days” is, I never needed that much time with the story. Once I knew who would be in it, sketching out the story was just a minor problem and often happened (with the basics at least, I like the adventure of filling out the scenes as I write them) within a day.
Most books about writing are rather secretive when it comes to creating characters. You get the basic tips, such as ‘stay with real-life characters’ (ever met a vampire or werewolf in real life?) or ‘stay away from stereotypes’ (which should, indeed, be avoided at all costs).
“Bullies, Bastards & Bitches” concentrates on the characters, on the characteristics of different types (especially the darker ones, but you get the hero by turning it all upside down then … or back on its feet). Wherever I have opened the book, I found interesting things I wanted to read immediately – which is why I have owned it for quite a while, but haven’t completely read it by now.
I’ve by now read about dark heroes and anti-heroes and I have glimpsed chapters about villains and female dark characters (heroes or otherwise). I just can’t wait to finish the book.