I’ve heard this once or twice from agents: “She’s just not that. . . . interesting,” about my literary protagonists. One of them is a abandoned 15 year old who teaches herself how to fly. (Not interesting? Really? Are you high?) The other is my Savannah boat expert who finds a washed up mermaid. The readers didn’t find that much wrong with my prose, but my characters were boring.
O.K. So I have to allow them their opinions. But they gave no advice in beefing up the interest level. In the past I have tried:
and agoraphobia as methods of jazzing up the inner workings of my characters.
I guess I need a new angle. Anyone got one? A great telling detail? A perfect one-liner? I’m not one who tends to ruminate over stuff that long, in my real life, or to analyze opinions, motivations, observations or the physical world. I’m basically pretty trusting. This, I now see, is a disadvantage to a writer. I suppose if I’m more suspicious and more insistent — “What do you mean you don’t know? Why don’t you know? You knew yesterday! You’re a LIAR! — I will add more interest to my protagonists. . . . Maybe if they dote on someone else more? A parent or sibling, a lover or leader figure, a lost loved one, a celebrity, that would help? But I’ve never been really zealously into anyone else. Except Duran Duran when I was fourteen. Readers, if you could only have seen my room papered with that band.
So I guess what I need is a zealous fixation of some type to attach to my heroes. Hmm. Religion. Food. Losing weight. Those seem the biggies in America. Well shaped finger nails, uber-clean homes, perfect children, white teeth, germlessness, odorlessness. Any of these fix on you yet? Make you LONG to read an entire book about that person? I’m working on it, I am.
Mariella Mehr — Poet, Memoirist, Acivisit, Survivor Not many Roma divulge their experience of the Holocaust. Unlike the many Jewish organizations which provide documentary evidence, . . .