How real do you need your characters to be?
I am the first one to say that fiction is fiction, it isn't always entirely believable and I think most readers will forgive some unrealistic characteristics if they like the story and relate with the characters.
I try to make my characters relatable, I want them to seem real, to seem like people you might meet in your day to day life. But I also want them to be nice and likable.
How do you do that when you are writing about a dominant alpha male who spanks?
It is very possible he is going to do or say something that makes you hold your e-reader away from your face and go "Oh, no he didn't!" Possibly with a head swivel and all.
I think it's also hard to write a modern day, contemporary piece with a woman who gets spanked. Now you have the dual problem of your main man seeming like a dick and the heroine seeming like a simpering fool because she won't stand up for herself.
It's a delicate balance, and you can't make everyone happy. If it is true to life at least a little bit, then some of the characters are going to be a little unlikable once in a while.
Etta Stark actually cracked me up with her review (you can read it here at Spanking Romance Reviews) for my newest book Call Me Yours, she talks about how she really didn't like my hero, Simon, right from the start.
In the book my heroine, Caitlin, needs some cash and she decides to become a phone sex operator. When she first brings the idea up to Simon he tells her in no uncertain terms that she will never do that.
Etta's reaction to this- "What gives, Simon? You give a girl oral sex one time and now you think you get to dictate how she lives her life? Well, that’s not how things work in the real world, matey."
But really, how else would Simon, this dominating alpha male react? Is he going to give her a long drawn out response about how charging per minute for a simulated sexual experience over the phone is setting back the work her feminist sisters have been doing toward women's equality since before she was born?
What dude would say that?
So I gave him a real life answer. He just simply tells her "No."
Don't worry, Caitlin is equally as put off with Simon's answer as Etta was (and I think I was too when writing it).
But my point is- I inadvertently made him a dick, and then when I realized this, I left him that way because it seemed more real to me.
Don't worry, he does redeem himself (at least Etta seemed to think so), we get to see his sweet softer side.
My question is though, how real do we want our romances? I'd like to think I pushed myself this time around in trying to make my characters seem less like characters and more like people. Caitlin is kind of a spoiled princess and she's not exactly the sweetest person to Simon in the beginning. Simon is an alpha male, used to people heeding his advice, he can come off as kind of prickly.
I didn't sugar coat them. I wrote their back and forth arguments as if they were sitting here with me. And then after I got down their words I didn't tone them down, I let them be jerks. Because, in real life, sometimes we're all jerks.
Do you prefer the characters in your romances to be real? Or would you rather have some synthetic sugar coated sweetness?
There is no right answer. I am just curious what readers think.