Updated: Apr 7, 2019
The first part of writing a novel is figuring out what it’s about. The next step is to figure out whom the story is about. Characters tell the story, are the reason people connect with it, and want to continue to read it. Whether your story has one character, like Tom Hanks in 'Cast Away,' or a group of people, like the gang in 'Friends,' success is measured by the emotional connection the audience has with the characters. The more authentic the character's responses, emotions, and actions, the more the reader will connect with the whole story.
Whom is My Story About?
Charlie - The Jaded one – The one who is bitter about men
Rose - The Romantic one – The one who is happily married
Lindsay - The Fun one – The one who parties and has lots of men
Sophie - The Tragic one – The one who is hurting and lost
To write really good characters you have to know how they will react to situations. If my characters got together at Rose’s place to watch an Officer and a Gentleman, would they all experience the same thing? Let’s find out.
What did you think about the last scene in the movie, 'An Officer and a Gentleman?'
The ending? Oh well. It was romantic I guess. I mean. There she is working in a dead end job, unhappy, and knowing that’s all she has to look forward to. Depressing. I guess. She’s young and there will be other men, other classes of officers, but she is hurt because he didn’t want her, he was gonna leave her behind. Then he walked in and saved her, took her away, and everyone cheered. Heck, I cheered even though I knew it was gonna happen. Why is it wrong to want that? I mean. I want a man to come save me from my life, sweep me off my feet and carry me away to a safer one. Make life easier. Happier. But everyone tells me it’s wrong to want that. They tell me, "I won’t find a good guy if I need one to save me." I’m beginning to believe them. No man wants a woman as messed up as me. I can’t blame them.
I just love the classic love stories they are so romantic. Here she was working away thinking that he’d abandoned her and then he comes in, all dressed up in his white uniform looking so handsome, to surprise her like that. Pick her up in front of all her co-workers and carry her away into the sunset to live happily ever after. What a story. I cried. You know, Gus is romantic like that. Once, before the kids, he came to my workplace with a big bouquet of flowers. He’d already arranged everything with my boss, a week off, can you imagine. Gus had planned everything, packed my suitcase and took me to Hawaii for our first wedding anniversary. It was so romantic. Just like him. I love him so much.
The ending? Well a man in uniform is so sexy. When he walked in, all confident in his uniform looking hot, I thought yummy. Then when he grabbed her head and just took a kiss from her like that, wowza. The rest was too tame though. Way too censored in my opinion, but what can you expect from the 80s. Come on, the scene needed more heat. I love a man who takes what he wants, just comes and grabs a woman all caveman like and she melts into him with passion, heat, then they fu** hard. That’s what that scene needed. Now that would have been something to clap for.
The whole movie was Bull shi**. Men don’t give two craps about saving some poor little woman from her life and what a pathetic thing to want. Clapping because he’d showed up and stole her away from what? Come on men don’t do that sh**. They just want someone to cook for ’em and fu** em. They don’t want to be bothered with all that touchy feely stuff.
OK so some of them are into the whole romance thing, like my brother in law Gus. But Gus and guys like him are so, I don’t know. Gus is a good guy, a nice guy, a family guy. Those guys are all married to woman like my sister Rose. Strong, independent, career women like me, we got selfish guys who are focused on their careers as much as we are focused on ours. Who has time for all that romantic stuff. I just don’t trust it. The only reason they are doing it is to get laid, so why bother it’s not real.
What are your thoughts about the ending to the movie an Officer and a Gentleman?
Share them in the comments below.
Know Your Characters
When you write a novel you have to know your characters inside and out. The more developed the characters, the more believable and empathetic they are. The aim of any good writer is to draw the reader in by making their characters relatable.
For this novel there are a number of characters and each one has their own back story, personality, likes, dislikes, and attitudes. Rose is one of these characters.
Name: Rose Fischer Age: 40 years old Status: Married Occupation: HomeMaker Children: Four. 3 Girls 19, 17, 15 and 1 Boy 13. Body Type: Plump
Rose is a traditionalist. She is the quintessential homemaker who got married young and had kids right away. Her life revolves around her children and her husband. She goes to church every Sunday, has the perfect cleaned house, and a schedule the busiest professional would be hard pressed to keep up with.
She has no idea of her own self as she lives for those in her care. She controls everything in her life and believes that she is living life the right way and others need to smarten up. She loves her friends, however she is not always in agreement with their choices.
She met her husband in high school and married him soon after graduation. Her and Gus have been married for 21 blissful years in Rose’s opinion. She can’t see her life with anyone except Gus. He is her rock and he works very hard to provide for his family. They work as a close knit team giving their children the perfect suburban life.
Rose is close to both her parents and her in laws. Every week she has a number of family demands, the children have activities and Rose hosts both families for a weekly family dinner.
She has two older sisters, one is an executive in New York and the other is a lawyer. Her sisters recently moved their elderly parents to the city into an assisted living facility. Rose thinks she did it to make things harder for her because she knows Rose can’t get to the city very often.
Two of Gus’ brothers are married and one is still single. His oldest brother brings his family to the weekly dinners, his other older brother lives in Chicago and his younger brother travels the world for work.
Likes and Dislikes
Rose likes doing things for her children, cooking, baking, sewing, fixing, driving, tutoring, and whatever else they need. She reads romance novels every night before bed and has seen every romantic movie ever made.
Rose doesn’t like it when her plans are disrupted.
Gus is her life. He has been a good husband and together they have created a life they are both proud of. He is romantic, hard working, God fearing, and family focused.
Charlie – The Jaded One
Name: Charlene (Charlie) Reed-Reynolds Age: 46 years old Status: Divorced Occupation: Lawyer Children: One 12 year old boy Body Type: Overweight but not obese
Charlie is a strong minded, intelligent woman whose brain gets the best of her. She sees deception and ulterior motives with every man. She is the devil’s advocate, the realist, the nay sayer, and the argumentative one. All of which make her good at her job, but terrible as a single woman.
She is a perfectionist and is overweight, but not obese. She is very self conscious about it and thinks that everyone else sees her as fat. She is always complaining that she is too busy to get to a gym, as she eats the last doughnut in the coffee room. She has very little will power where food is concerned as she uses comfort food to feel better during highly emotional times.
Charlie was married to David for 10 years. Their relationship was more of a business arrangement than a romantic love match. Charlie had deduced that David was a good match, they wanted the same things out of life and would work well together. This resulted in David becoming increasingly unhappy and blaming Charlie for all their problems. In the end David had an affair that lasted 2 years before Charlie discovered it, at which point she promptly left and took him to the cleaners.
Charlie’s parents are elderly and need extra care. Charlie has put them into an assisted living complex where she visits regularly and complains that her sisters don’t do enough to help out. Her mother is set in her ways and her father is over-bearing and opinionated about everything. A good old fashioned middle American Grumpy old man.
Charlie has two younger sisters. One lives in New York and is an executive at a large bank. The youngest, Rose lives in suburbia with her husband, Gus and four children
Likes and Dislikes
Charlie enjoys the arts, mainly because she isn’t artistic and is amazed at the talent some people have. She is a bit of a geek and enjoys superhero movies, sci fi, fantasy and action films. She hates romantic girly movies as she believes Hollywood’s idea of love is fake, unrealistic, and the basis of all failed marriages, including hers.
She hates green vegetables and sweat exerting exercise. She likes to walk and shop in the many stores the city has to offer. She is very much a city girl and hates the idea of roughing it. To her anything below 4 stars is roughing it.
Charlie wants a man who is perfect. About 5’10 – 5’11, smart, well educated, and enjoys the same things she does. A man who can fit into her professional social world of conservative suits. David was too blue collar, this time she wants a white collar man who looks good in a suit and won’t embarrass her at the office Christmas Party.
She’s been dating men for over 5 years now and has yet to find love.
Lindsay – The Fun One
Name: Lindsay Hart Age: 47 years old Status: Divorced twice over Occupation: None Children: 2 – both girls live with their fathers Body Type: Tall and Slender
Lindsay likes to have fun. Always has. If there is a party, chances are Lindsay started it. She loves men, especially all the attention they lavish on her. No man can resist her charms, when she has her eyes set on bedding a man, nothing stops her. Not even a wedding ring, especially not a wedding ring. She considers married men bonus points because she is able to show them what a real woman is like in bed and loves the thrill of getting them to stray. Nothing personal ladies, it’s all in fun. In her opinion if wifey can’t please her man she deserves to have him stolen for a few hours.
She is constantly at the gym and the aging process is stressing her out. She is not about to let her looks go, she isn’t ready to hang up the party hat yet. She is still gorgeous and looks no older than 29, that’s what everyone tells her anyway.
To Lindsay, looks are everything and she has noticed that the partying has begun to take it’s toll and she’s not happy about it.
Marriage 1: Lindsay married Joey after she got pregnant with his kid, well she thinks it’s his. She’s 75% sure it’s his, maybe 50%. Still he believed her and married her. It was a disaster. All they did was fight, he expected her to stay home every night and take care of the baby. She lasted until the baby was two, then after a big blow out she walked out and moved in with her boyfriend of the time. She can’t remember what his name was. She saw the girl, Destiny, once a month until the girl turned 12 and decided that time with her mother was not important. The girl is 30 now.
Marriage 2: Lindsay married Michael for his money. She admits it. He was 18 years older than her and rich. Very rich. More than enough to share with her she thought. She got knocked up to get him to give her a ring and a very lucrative prenuptial agreement. This marriage lasted almost 7 years before his lawyers ganged up on her and forced her from the man’s home and life. Worse, they took away her 6 year old daughter, Evelyn, by declaring her an unfit mother. They even had the nerve to have Destiny testify. The nerve of them. She is bitter about it. Still, she walked away with a nice annual pay cheque and a fully paid for condo.
Her dad walked out on her and her mom who had a string of boyfriends afterwards. She made friends everywhere she went and lived with her mom until she was 16. Lindsay was in love with a 16 year old boy, her first love, she thought they’d get married until she found her mom in bed with him. Her mom told her to calm down, it was just sex, and she could join them. Lindsay packed a bag and never looked back. She heard her mom died of a heroine overdose, Lindsay didn’t attend the funeral.
Lindsay loves men and sex. Wine is her drink of choice, but let’s face it, she’ll drink anything you put in her hand. She spends lots of time shopping for clothes and that is how she met Charlie, in Nordstrom’s changing room. They talked about clothes, sex, and men, from that moment on they were BFF’s.
Lindsay hates reading, she can’t stand housework or any kind of work. Her biggest fear is growing old and wrinkles are a thing to be destroyed. Don’t ask her to go camping or hiking she’ll turn and walk out the door. If it’s not 5 star it’s not going to happen.
Her ideal man is hot, young and gorgeous. She will have fun with any man who catches her eye, however, the one she is searching for is in his 30s, hot, and if he has money all the better. If he doesn’t, it’s not a deal breaker they can live off her ex husband’s generous stipend, just as long as he’s hot and makes the old bastard jealous.
Sophie – The Tragic One
Name: Sophie Harris Age: 43 years old Status: Recently Separated Occupation: Many failed ones Children: Two one boy 10 and one girl 7 Body Type: Petite and slim
Sophie is a tragic woman who tries in life but doesn’t succeed. For her life is one daily struggle after another resulting in chronic depression and stress ailments. She really does try hard, thing is she gets it wrong more times than she gets it right and those who claim to love her beat her down her. She is beaten down, submissive, and doesn’t trust herself thanks to years of conditioning from a lifetime of abuse.
People see her as weak, whiny at times, and not worth their time. At least that is what she thinks, it’s not the truth. Those who know her see a strong, capable woman struggling and surviving. Yes she is a tragic figure with her clearance rack, ill fitting, clothes and do it yourself die job. She’s never had anyone put her first and does not know how to believe she’s worth the money to polish her appearance.
She struggles daily with demons telling her she is not good enough, she is worthless, and doesn’t deserve to be happy because let’s face it, she’s tragic. She fights these demons with a strong mind and an even stronger will. She wants a better life, she wants success, she wants to be loved, and she knows she deserves it. Problem is, life and those who claim to love her have given her evidence to the opposite and her will falters under the proof that she isn’t worth what she hopes she is.
She isn’t outgoing and prefers to be alone. She gets scared in large noisy groups of people and feels safer in quiet places. She is a fierce lioness where her kids are concerned and protects them with a venom so dangerous it seems like overkill and an inappropriate response to most people.
She is not the kind of person people seek out to spend time with and if it wasn’t for her friend Rose she’d be alone all the time. She doesn’t mind being alone except when the demons get too loud and the pain gets too much to bear.
At first Sophie’s marriage to Craig was like any marriage and they were both somewhat happy, then life happened and wore them both down. The marriage became a long struggle for her as she tried to please her husband who was never happy and didn’t appreciate her. Over the years Craig’s drinking became heavier and more violent. He blamed her for his perceived failures, even though she did everything she could to support him, while simultaneously trying to succeed in her own endeavors with no support from him.
Little by little the power dynamic shifted until Sophie had no power and felt what she wanted didn’t matter at all. She stopped wanting, she stopped dreaming, and she stopped hoping. Craig’s angry outbursts were uncontrollable and directed at her. He called her terrible things, said she was worthless, and incapable of getting anything right. This took its toll and she still struggles with the lies he told her.
Finally, he had enough and wanted out but did not want to lose any of his economic status, the house, or his stuff. His frustration at having her in his life came out in violent anger and soon she had no option but to leave the house with the children.
Sophie’s mom is a very opinionated, competitive, and strong woman who controls everyone and everything around her. She needs to be the best, have the best, and that included kids. No matter what Sophie did growing up, it wasn’t good enough for her mother who expected perfection. Second place was never good, B’s should be A’s and heaven forbid Sophie be the topic of any rumour in the small town they lived in.
Though her mother expected perfection, she did not expect Sophie to amount to much more than a housewife and mother. Any time Sophie dreamed of being something that her mother didn’t think fit into her plans for Sophie’s life, her mother informed her that she didn’t have what it took to do that. Support came with strings and as long as Sophie towed the line she was given approval and love, the minute she didn’t, support was non existent, criticism heaped on, and love withheld.
Her father died when Sophie was young and her mom remarried a man who was successful in the business world, easy going, and liked little girls. Sophie’s mom turned a blind eye to what was happening under her roof because it was more important to look perfect to the world than air out dirty laundry. Besides, he supported them financially and gave them the socio economic life her mother wanted.
She has a couple half brothers who are much younger, spoiled, and entitled. Where Sophie could do no right, her brothers could do no wrong and they just ignore Sophie.
Likes / Dislikes
Sophie has no idea what she likes or dislikes. She just exists and believes she doesn’t matter enough to want anything. It’s been so long since she wanted something for herself she has no idea what she wants anymore. She tells herself she is content with what life has given her and makes do.
Sophie just wants to be loved. She wants a man who will take care of her, protect her, see her, love her, give her a life she never thought possible. She desperately wants a boyfriend who will invite her to move in with him, make her safe and take care of her and her children.
She just wants to feel safe and protected.
Shannon Peel is the author, a marketing professional, a single mom, and a divorced woman trying to find love in Vancouver, BC Canada. Her daily life is filled with struggle, humour, love, and stories.