Character Studies: Choosing Sides

Talking about character development this week!

One of the good things about writing “an urban fantasy series with elements of paranormal romance” is that, unlike a traditional romance, the “happily ever after” doesn’t have to appear at the end. There’s time to allow characters’ relationships to develop across different books. They sizzle along under the surface.

When there’s a love triangle involved (or a pentagram, as my poor character DJ is learning), it gets even more complicated.

What’s funny is how my beta readers over the course of the two books have taken sides. My heroine DJ, a wizard, is partners with one cousin, Alex (whom I talked about in yesterday’s blog) and Jacob. The undead pirate Jean Lafitte is always hovering around in the background, being a sexy blackguard. And then a determined elf named Rand shows up in the second book.

Who does DJ end up with? Two Betas and my editor are in the Alex camp (strong macho guy with the soft underbelly he tries to hide); another Beta and my agent appear to be in the Jacob camp (strong, dependable sexy dude who’s overcome a lot of hardship–the kind you want to fix); yet a third beta reader has said that DJ cannot choose Quince (sexy elf with scary mental magic and a political agenda)–that, in fact, Quince must die. Everyone loves Jean Lafitte for a fling, but can’t see him having any staying power despite the fact that he’s immortal.

I’ve been taking all this in with much enjoyment. For one thing, it means my characters have some aspect to them that has inspired loyalty, that they have come to life. For another, it means that I have managed not to telegraph which of the guys will win DJ’s heart.

Do I know myself? Stay tuned 🙂

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About Suzanne Johnson

Author of urban and paranormal fantasy and romantic suspense, currently living in Auburn, Alabama. Author of the Sentinels of New Orleans series (Royal Street; River Road: Elysian Fields, Pirate's Alley, and Belle Chasse (Nov 2016). Writing as Susannah Sandlin, she is the author of the Penton Legacy series (Redemption; Absolution; Omega; Storm Force; Allegiance); The Collectors series (Lovely, Dark, and Deep; Deadly, Calm, and Cold); and the upcoming Wilds of the Bayou series (Book 1, Wild Man's Curse) releases April 2016).

9 thoughts on “Character Studies: Choosing Sides

  1. I love it when there’s a question as to who the heroine will end up with. I hope my characters are that real for my readers that they choose sides.

  2. I have to say I don’t like the who will the heroine choose type romances very much. I’m sure my dislike started after the Anita Blake stories went postal on how many guys the heroine could have sex with.

    I like the heroine making a decision and a relationship growing. Being wishy-washy is not attractive to me.

  3. I like the heroine making a decision too. Having only one option isn’t making a decision. I like her to have a choice. Once she makes her decision as to who she’s going to be with I don’t want her to be wishy-washy either.

  4. Thanks for the comments! Beth and Cindy, I guess it’s a matter of taste in a way. My character makes a choice in the second book (in the beginning), but it doesn’t quite end up the way she had hoped. I loved the tension in the Anita Blake books between Anita and Richard and Jean-Claude…until all the other guys got involved, then it started getting weird.

    Part of the “to have a HEA or not” might boil down to whether the book is leaning more toward urban fantasy or paranormal romance. My series is UF; my WIP is paranormal–and there’s definitely a choice made in that one. Thanks for commenting!

  5. It is nice to have a story arc that spans several novels, though in the end, it is nice to have a happily ever after. I know I stopped reading Stephanie Plum because I got tired of the Ranger/Joe back-and-forth; similarly, the Jacob/Edward triangle got old by book 4. But I’m decisive in my nature (I only visited 2 stores before buying my wedding gown), so that’s just me!

  6. I don’t mind some indecision for a while. It ups the relationship tension. But to carry it on indefinitely gets old. I like how Patricia Briggs has done that with Mercy Thompson.

  7. I agree that it can’t go on too long (Ranger and Joe Morelli are good examples of that. I loved it for a while but….). And too much hopping gets old. I want Sookie to make a decision in the Charlaine Harris books, as long as it’s Eric 🙂

  8. Indecision is ok for me if it doesn’t take 3-4 books for the heroine to decide. I do agree that the genre matters – UF compared to PNR.

    Btw, there’s an award for you at my blog!

  9. LOL, Suzanne–“I want Sookie to make a decision in the Charlaine Harris books, as long as it’s Eric :-)”

    I’m still stuck on Vampire BILL! LOL

    Great posts, Suzanne. Thanks!