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Learning to Love Again with Handsome Hansel

It’s Valentine’s Day and we get to spend it with Handsome Hansel from Dance of Romance! [1] Drop on in and see what he has to say about falling out of love with our characters.

It seems I drew the short straw this year. Through the magic of Carrie’s scheduling finesse, the bottle was spun and landed on me to propagate a Valentine’s Day message for the masses here at Romance University.

Not going to happen.

Why? Because I’m not in love right now. I can’t stand my characters. I’m tired of living in their world, and they’re not giving me what I need to survive. I need to breathe, I need to be satisfied, I need to flourish because they exist. Yet…today…nothing. I’m sitting in my proverbial corner, staring at my iMac and seething. (In a manly way of course.)

What bothers me the most is that I know it’s not their fault. It’s mine. I want to blame them. I want to shake the shoulders of my iMac and get them to understand that they aren’t doing what I want them to do. But, ultimately, it’s on me.

Just as in a regular relationship, we only get back what we are willing to give. The same holds true for our writing. When we begin a story, we are enamored with our new found friends. Not dissimilar to a new relationship. We are excited to explore their world and put it on paper for others to enjoy with us.

However, over time, between the re-readings, the rewrites, and the redundancies…we get bored. Now our characters are chores instead of fascinating people. Suddenly we are picking up their dirty underwear and learning who they truly are. The romance is over.

Yet…we are committed. We have to make it work. Like a marriage with fourteen kids, you just can’t walk away. You have to make it work.

It’s an odd place to be…in control. We can have our characters do whatever they want in our stories, yet we place limits on ourselves. There are corners of our writing world we are hesitant to explore. In some cases we ask permission of our characters to push them further. (Have you ever had a crush on one of your characters? I have.) Which makes it all the more difficult to put them in certain scenarios.

It’s a love-affair between author and character that gets in the way of a great story. It’s hard…so hard…not to get involved emotionally with our characters, yet it happens. As authors, we love in a variety of ways. Many of which the outside world will never understand. We bore humans from the tips of our fingers and it resonates meaning to us. We have something to say, we have something to give. We want the outside world to understand what we are trying to say and convey. And we’re afraid it will fall flat.

Writing a book is an undertaking of the greatest degree. The outside world never…ever…really knows what it took to get there. They are the giddy couple on the outside looking in, nodding in all the right places. As authors, it is hard to get past the bias.

As authors, we need to fall in love again with our characters. In a lot of cases, it will take some time. A lot of time. But time well spent.



RU Writers – how do you keep the love flowing with your characters?

Join us on Monday for Anne Allen and Laws of the Amazon Jungle


Bio: Like most of us, I’ve been around the block a time or two (or three) in the relationship world. I like to think of myself as having a pretty thick skin, however, that skin doesn’t surround the heart.

I’ve been in love; I’ve been in lust. I’ve been hurt and got up to do it all again, each time having learned more of myself as well as “wants” and “don’t wants” for my next relationship. Amazingly enough, I never gave up on that one true love wrapped in Romance. You can visit me here, at http://thedanceofromanceonline.com

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7 Comments To "Learning to Love Again with Handsome Hansel"

#1 Comment By Mary Jo Burke On February 14, 2014 @ 8:02 am

Hi HH,

I’m stuck in an editing vortex. I’m rewriting scenes and my characters are not happy.

#2 Comment By Carrie Spencer On February 14, 2014 @ 8:29 am

Happy Valentine’s Day HH!

“We bore humans from the tips of our fingers” niiiice. =)

I fall in love and back out again with all of my characters. Sometimes they just do the craziest things! =) Generally it all goes back to some plotting problem I’ve put them through, and they act up until I get it straightened out.

Hope you have a grrrrrrrrrreat day!


#3 Comment By Lori Schafer On February 14, 2014 @ 10:21 am

When the love stops flowing between me and my characters, I take the same steps I would if my relationship was suffering. Spend quality time together. Shake up the routine with something new or different. Spice things up in the bedroom. And if I just can’t get past the boredom, or the fact that they keep leaving the cap off the toothpaste, we might have to spend some time apart. Sometimes I need time away from someone I love to remember all the things I love about them. And I appreciate my characters so much more when I give myself enough space that I begin to miss them.

#4 Comment By Tamara On February 14, 2014 @ 12:36 pm

Lucky me. I get to say Happy Valentine’s Day to my crush–Handsome Hansel. LOL.

Like you, I tend to fall out of love with my characters now and then. What I do to get those old feelings back is to pull out my characters’ photos. Not just of them either, their home, clothes, etc. I tend to gather quite a number of photos when researching to find just the right person who emobodies my character.

The photos help pull me back into their lives and vice versa. I know, it’s strange, but it works for me.

#5 Comment By Becke Martin Davis On February 14, 2014 @ 9:08 pm

I hadn’t really thought about it, but this is so true. I’ve gotten so bogged down in revisions that I never want to hear the character’s names again. (In fact, I’ve sometimes had to change their names at that point.)

I’m glad this post wasn’t written today – I’d hate to think of all that manly seething happening on Valentine’s Day! Hope you had a fun day!

#6 Comment By Becke Martin Davis On February 14, 2014 @ 9:27 pm

Check out last Saturday’s Weekly Lecture Schedule post. Kudos to Carrie Spencer and Alicia Coleman for entering the contest! Alicia, I’ll shoot you an email. Since you were the first person brave enough to submit a rhyme, you’re our prize winner! Congratulations!

#7 Comment By Jennifer Tanner On February 14, 2014 @ 9:36 pm

Happy Valentine’s Day, HH!

I do walk away from my characters, at least for a couple of days. It’s not as if I don’t think about them, but sometimes working out their issues in my head works better than on the screen.