Spilling Character Guts (and not in a Palahniuk kind of way)

(Here's the forementioned post from Zombie Chow, crass-posted for your reading pleasure)

On thursday night, despite an overwhelming urge to curl up and hide, I went to the writer's association meeting. One of my friends from writing group tagged along for a talk on "Getting to Know Your Characters". You've been to these kind of seminars yourself; the kind that promises a plethora of techniques guaranteed to reveal the inner thoughts and dreams of your literary creations.

Did it deliver, you ask? Not in the least.

The author was thunderously perky and sweet, and revealed a limited personal experience to childhood trauma of any sort. Hello, clue. I imagined her skipping through fields Shirley Temple locks bouncing around her face, thinking up one happy ending after another. She proceeded to pass out what essentially was a meme of questions about the character (name, height, weight–I swear to God), that delved into family shit a bit (to which I give her a bit of credit, although she seemed to have no clue that children process their own relationships as a cyclical response to witnessing their parent's interaction). She was like: if your dad's a banker then the kid could be, right? Tee hee hee. Jesus!

That was literally the extent of the meeting. It broke early so the author could sell her romance titles. We did have an interesting discussion with our tablemates about capturing opposite gendered characters accurately. So not a total loss.

What did I learn? Read the fine print on these meeting announcements. When I got home I reread the full memo, and gasped. She writes for Harlequin, or regurgitates for Harlequin, or whatever you call it. Now I'm no snob. I'm not writing the great American novel myself. This is strictly entertainment. However, formula bugs me. Really bugs me.

But it explained everything, the pert lady author with a sense that everything's right in the world, the meme, her rose colored glasses. Ahh, romance. It made me want to explore my own guts.