Mean Authors

I just wrote a novella told from a cat’s POV. I intended this story to be lighthearted, but it starts with bad things happening to the cat…and it soon gets worse. Then I started my next book in the series. Again, I wanted this to be lighter than the paranormal books I’ve been writing, but it starts with some heavy stuff…and after that, I really throw some bad things at my main character. So much that I decided to add a second POV character with a less intense storyline to give the reader a break. But even as I write this secondary POV character, I know her turn to be a main character will come soon…and I’ll be mean to her, too.

When I first started writing, I was too nice to my characters. I would get them into trouble in one scene, and out the next. Or I would almost get the main characters in trouble…but it would never quite happen. I finally realized that because of my ‘niceness,’ there was no real tension in my stories. No need for a reader to turn the pages to see what was going to happen next. When characters aren’t in trouble or helping someone else in trouble, it’s…boring.

Look at this nursery rhyme that’s been around since at least the 18th century (according to Wikipedia):

Jack and Jill went up the hill
To fetch a pail of water.
Jack fell down and breaks his crown,
Then Jill came tumbling after.

No boring moment there. The mean author threw them in trouble in the first verse, even breaking poor Jack’s crown. As Mr. Bill would say, “Oh nooooooooo.”

A more recently published book, In A Treacherous Court by Michelle Diener, begins with the hero, John Parker, saying to an annoying shipping clerk:

“I am the the Keeper of Paradise, Purgatory, and Hell.”

Who doesn’t wish they could say that to people that annoy us? But most of us aren’t King Henry VIII’s Keeper of the Palace of Westminster and his Yoeman of the Crossbows. Within a couple of pages, Michelle throws a worse problem at John Parker. A murder. And after that comes more trouble. Michelle Diener is a mean author.

Bound In Sin by Cynthia Eden starts with the heroine needing help from the alpha werewolf who’d claimed her as his ten years previously. She hasn’t seen him since then, because she’d been changed into a vampire – and vamps are weres’ mortal enemies. Trouble right away. And of course, it gets worse. Way worse. Cynthia Eden is a mean author.

In Cassie’s Corner by Dale Mayer starts with Cassie’s friend Todd waking her in the middle of the night, telling her not to believe what she hears about him…and the next day she finds out he was dead. She’d been talking to his ghost. Dale Mayer is a mean author.

I could go on about every author who’s part of Magical Musings, but this blog would be way too long. If you’re a reader, I’d love to hear what kind of author meanness you’ve encountered that’s stuck in your mind. And if you’re an author, what foul deed have you committed against a character lately?

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18 Responses to Mean Authors

  1. Misty Evans says:

    Edie, you’re a fantastic writer who knows how to mean! Your stories always have a good ending, though, so as a reader, I know I’m in good hands. Interesting how you started out intending your stories to be lighthearted and ended up with something darker. That happens to me sometimes too.

    My latest super agent book (which is going to my editor today, so cross your fingers she likes it) starts off with a confrontation between the hero and heroine where the hero is mean to the heroine because he thinks she’s a double agent trying to set him up. So much fun to write! And now I’m off to write the opening scene for Sweet Chaos – the next Kali Sweet book – and Kali has to be mean to, well, everyone. LOL.

  2. Edie Ramer says:

    Misty, right back at you about being a fantastic and mean author. I’ve found that when I write the stories, the characters set the tone. They’re getting back at me for being mean to them.

    That sounds like a very fun scene between your spy hero and heroine. I’m sure your editor will love it. Have fun torturing Kali in Sweet Chaos. Great title!

  3. Edie,

    Seems to me as one of your loyal readers, you can be mean when needed. ;-)

    I’m reading a book right now in which the main character learns her baby was stillborn. First page. And things get worse from there even though it’s not a suspense but WF. A well-written book is one the reader keeps turning the pages. That means conflict which means the main characters at least have bad/mean occur in their lives. That makes the story, right?

    Mean can hit your over the head as a reader and in some books that’s needed. Or mean can be more subtle which other books require. However, as a reader I want a satisfying ending. As an author, I try to do both.

    Great post! :-)
    Casey Clifford`s last blog was …A Genie On My Mind

    • Edie Ramer says:

      MJ, I feel sympathy for the fictional character in the book you’re reading just from reading here that her baby was stillborn. That’s a terrible thing to do to a character. I mention early on in my book that my main character had two miscarriages.

      You’re absolutely right about the satisfying ending. If a book has an unhappy ending, I’d never want to read a book by the author again.

  4. Lee Lopez says:

    Writing trouble for your character can be a sort-of balancing act. You want the action, something that draws the reader in, but then on the other, hand you don’t want them to look too stupid. In my next release, She Cried Wolf, I didn’t do anything mean to my heroine Irene Carlotti. Bad things happened to her, and she grows from it. But at first the meanest thing I think I did was make her a bit whimpy. In my new WIP, my heroine is a drug addict, and wakes in a ER after a overdose. The denial I give her in the first chapters is mean, but its realistic, that’s what happens, but she moves away from it to reality, that she’s got some very serious problems, she created.
    In many ways it’s the mean stuff that drives the book. But its all about how the characters survives it and grows into someone better and stronger. Mean stuff after all is apart of real life.

    • Edie Ramer says:

      Lee, that’s so true that bad things are part of life. The worst things that happen to our characters have happened in real life . That could be part of the reason we empathize with them. Though I’ve never been an addict, I feel sympathy for your character, and I’m rooting for her. You go!

  5. Edie, first of all, loved this post and your great examples from the Musings group of writers. One at a time I am reading my way through all of Musings. What grand fun that I found you first :)

    Is it mean or is it the right reaction? Is it because we love to live through our characters, to be a real bad a$$, tangle them up in a web of conflict and then sit back and watch what happens ??? Oh yes, it does feel so good to be bad.
    florence fois`s last blog was …Let’s Play a Game …

  6. Dale Mayer says:

    Good morning Edie,

    Guilty as charged! I can’t even say I don’t do it deliberately because sometimes I do :) But either way, it has to be right for the characters and the story. I’m so not a mean person in real life that it was hard when I first started writing too. I’m right into it now. .

    What I like about your stories is the feel good part when I get to the end!
    Dale Mayer`s last blog was …2 books up for free for the 22nd and the 23rd of February!!

    • Edie Ramer says:

      Dale, I’ve changed from being too nice to sometimes feeling giddy that I’ve found something awful to do to my characters.

      After all that bad stuff, we need something at the end that makes us feel good. It’s our pay off. :)

  7. Edie, LOL! This is a great post.
    I was offline working on my manuscript for several hours today, trying to find new ways for bad things to happen to them… ;) In a lot of my stories, the meanness is social in nature. Lots of nasty kids in one character’s past or snotty neighbors/coworkers in another.
    Marilyn Brant`s last blog was …Are You Pinteresting?

    • Edie Ramer says:

      Marilyn, oooh, now I’m curious as to what your book will be like. In my new book, my main character is getting a lot of social meanness. Spousal meanness too, because her husband has turned out to be rat. Something that happens too often in real life.

  8. The last mean thing I did to my characters was ripping one character’s soul mate from his arms and giving her to his tormented brother.
    Karin* Tabke aka Harlow!`s last blog was …CAPA Winner!

    • Edie Ramer says:

      Wow, Karin! You are one mean author. I’m reading your story in Guns and Roses now, and I’m LOVING your story. What a way to introduce your heroine. lol Besides You’ve Got Murder, it’s the funniest story of yours that I’ve read.

  9. LOL, Edie, I was just the same when I started writing. As I’m sure you remember :) . I had to get meaner as I went. :) And you’re plenty mean to the characters in Dragon Blues!

    I have just written a book which is hopefully due for a November release where I just was so totally mean, I couldn’t believe it myself. LOL.

    Thanks for the mention of In a Treacherous Court, and I loved the other examples, too.
    Michelle Diener`s last blog was …In a Treacherous Court Cover finals in the Judge A Book By Its Cover Contest

    • Edie Ramer says:

      Michelle, I think you’re very mean in Parker and Susannah’s books. One thing coming after coming at them. Hardly room to breathe in between. Very exciting and emotional! You didn’t skimp on the emotional aspect at all. If anything, it became more intense.

      Both of our writing changed for the better since we first became CPs. Your writing was always great, but your stories got better.

  10. Liz Kreger says:

    Let’s see. In the UF I’m working on my first scene is my heroine being tormented by a sadistic vamp and a werewolf in which they’re taking bets on whether she’d turn into one or the other if she survived. From there, not so mean. I’ll have to amp up the meanness in this book when I do the first round of edits.

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