Karen Brichoux

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"Draws the reader into the story and never lets go." --RT Bookclub
"Brichoux reminds the reader how powerfully the landscape of 'home' can define a person." -- High Country News
Previously Released
"An exceptional novel." --Melissa Senate, author of The Solomon Sisters Wise Up
"A coup. Warm, smart, and original." --Kirkus Reviews


Characters, Part I

June 29, 2003

July Newsletter
Characters, Part I: Oh, honestly....

Have you ever seen one of those movies where the world is about to be annihilated by a rogue computer only some little kid (who's only been good for laughs up until now) suddenly develops more brains than an MIT grad student and saves the world? If the movie is an over-the-top comedy, this can be a kind of funny (if old) joke. If it's a serious action/adventure movie, the audience moans because it's clear some movie producer started thinking more about Burger King cups than characters.

I'd like to say this only happens in movies, but that would be a lie.

Authors are people, too. And sometimes, when that neat-o plot twist needs the character to become a rocket scientist or (worse) develop the reasoning power of a dead hamster, the reader will catch the author in an act of character dishonesty.

But what makes a character honest? Just for fun, let's start with my number one gripe as a reader!

Gripe #1: I saw it on TV.

Just because the hit TV show of the moment has a character everyone loves doesn't mean I want to read a book starring that character. Television is very clean and neat. Television characters live in apartments that cost more per month than I make in a year. They either have wildly interesting jobs, jobs which let them sit in break rooms for days at a time, or no visible means of support. And each week, they solve some amusing or devastating crisis, but they never seem to learn anything. (How many times can a person see irrefutable proof that aliens exist and still remain a skeptic? And didn't that guy spend the last fifteen episodes cheating on his wife? So why is Bunny marrying him?)

Is this bad? Not really. It's TV. It's fantasy. It's attempting to pull an audience in once a week or once a day.

But that doesn't mean a heroine who is good for television will make a good heroine in a book.

Television is episodic. We have come to expect that the characters on TV will do the same thing again next week or start up an affair with the philandering husband. But a book should be more than that. If the heroine keeps forgetting what she learned in the last chapter because the author wants to get in that new plot twist he dreamed up in the shower last night, the reader is going to throw down the book in disgust. A book requires the hero or heroine to grow and change and learn. Honestly.

How? Well, that's something I am going to look at over the next few months. So stay tuned!


Service Announcement: On July 21 at 6:30 in the evening, I will be talking with readers and signing books at Watermark Books in Wichita, KS. (See the "Appearances" page of my website for more details.) If any of you are in the area and have time to stop by, I'd love to meet you.