Stephanie Lawton on: “Writing happy endings for psychotic characters” #Need

Guess who’s visiting me today? Stephanie Lawton, author of Want and her newly released followup, Need. She’s going to talk a bit about Need and I think the post’s title kind of gives you a preview of what’s to come. So, turning over the keys now….heeeere’s Stephanie. Meet you again at the bottom.

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Need.v4-finalThanks so much to Claire for letting me spread my crazy around on her blog today, and helping get the word out about NEED. (Those are her kind words scrawled across the top of the cover.)

Here’s the thing: I don’t write normal, happy characters. Many of us don’t. Sure, all books need conflict and emotional turmoil of some degree to be interesting, but isn’t it more fun to take conflict and turmoil and trap them in an insane asylum, then dump them out on the front lawn and see what they do to each other in front of the neighbors?

Answer: Hell, yeah.

These kinds of characters make conflict easy, but they must also be handled with care or else they can become melodramatic, unrealistic, and worst of all, readers won’t be able to relate to them. Tortured souls, more than most, need careful arcs that show personal growth. It doesn’t have to (and arguably shouldn’t) be obvious, but when readers turn the last page, they must feel mostly satisfied and happy with the main characters’ newfound place in the World of Good Decisions.

Not so easy when the main character is unreliable at best and a depressed, agoraphobic asshat who can’t keep it in his pants at his worst. Enter Isaac Laroche in NEED. So many readers hated him at the end of WANT that they wondered why on earth I’d devote a follow-up to him.

(Pssst! Here’s a secret: Life is not black and white. Same goes for people—they’re rarely all villain or all hero.) In NEED, we get to see events though his eyes, we experience his shame, self-hate and compulsions, but we also get to see him slowly come out of his fog.Want cover w. blurb FINAL

It’s this slow, careful ascent from the pits of hell that helps readers get behind a previously unlikeable character. The change can’t be immediate like the clichéd parting of the clouds, nor can it come from without the character. Sure, other characters help influence the narrator, but ultimately it’s up to him to change organically.

Will a character like Isaac wake up, change his wicked ways and become a well-balanced superhero with a wifey, two-point-five children and a house with a white picket fence? Not likely. Instead, he’ll have to settle for a Happy for Now with the possibility of finding his Happily Ever After … whatever that looks like.

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Thanks, Stephanie. Me likey the crazy!

Now you know you want to read Need…but if you haven’t read Want yet, be sure to buy that one and read it too. They be some awesome bookends of crazy.

 More About Need:

Isaac Laroche is cursed. All he wants to do is hide out and feel sorry for himself. Never mind that he got caught sleeping with his seventeen-year-old piano student, or that he abandoned her when the truth was exposed.

Isaac’s feisty high school sweetheart has different plans. Heather Swann has returned to their hometown of Mobile, Alabama, to regroup after breaking up with her troll of a fiancé. She’s restless and looking for a diversion, but she bites off more than she can chew when she sets her sights on rehabilitating Isaac with her unorthodox sexual, mental, and physical plans.

The two quickly reconnect, but their happiness is threatened by family secrets, old vendettas and the death of a beloved father-figure.

Can Heather handle Isaac’s baggage, or will her own come back to haunt them both?

Here’s where you can pick up a copy of Need:

For more information about Stephanie, including other books (**cough** May 22nd **cough**) she has planned, go to:

StephanieLawton.com

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One thought on “Stephanie Lawton on: “Writing happy endings for psychotic characters” #Need

  1. These kinds of characters make conflict easy, but they must also be handled with care or else they can become melodramatic, unrealistic, and worst of all, readers won’t be able to relate to them. Tortured souls, more than most, need careful arcs that show personal growth. It doesn’t have to (and arguably shouldn’t) be obvious, but when readers turn the last page, they must feel mostly satisfied and happy with the main characters’ newfound place in the World of Good Decisions.

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