Thursday, January 24, 2008

Excess Packaging

Margot Fontaine et Son Amie,
Leonor Fini,
oil on canvas, 1948.

Have been thinking about a question raised by Raine about heroines outside the box, and the conflict between artistic innovation/urge and reader comfort.

As a usual result of discussions of this kind, I examine my own current heroine and wonder if Lillie is just another bobble head action figure inside the standard bubble packaging.

In some ways I suppose she is.

Then again, in some ways she isn't.

Lillie doesn't conform to traditional ethics entirely.

In Stone Child, for example, she allows rough, brutal, eye-for-an-eye justice to overide legal process and the principle that guilt, punishment and/or death should only be arraigned and adjudged by a duely appointed court, not dispensed in primitive, frontier style.

Of course, it's in the interest of saving the innocent.

Which might be acceptable if the all the parties involved were human.

But they are not.

And that distinction, that a human's life is not more valuable, is subject only to human laws, is where she transgresses standard ethics and morality.

And I think that, while Lillie may be in a box, she does stick her arm outside it.

Speed-dial Success: You may remember Jaye acquired an agent just before Christmas. As part of a three book deal, her novel has been sold.
At auction.
Pardon me while I beam and smirk and chortle just a bit over this extremely satisfying news.
Publishing doesn't always drag its little feet, not when it sees what it likes.
Go rejoice with her.


Jaye Wells said...

Thanks, Bernita!

From what little I've seen Lillie does more than stick her arm outside the box. On top of that hand is her middle finger, flying proudly.

Church Lady said...

(what Jaye said)

And thanks for the link to Jaye's great news!


Bernita said...

Thank you, Jaye.
You know, yesterday morning as I flitted past your agent's site I saw mention of an auction and wondered if you were still in revisions, and thought, rather wistfuly, wouldn't it be great if that were Jaye's book...

Just lovely news, Chris.

StarvingWriteNow said...

All I could think of when you said that Lillie "sticks her arm out of the box" is that old adage about keeping your arm inside the car window because it would blow off. Then I thought about an Erma Bombeck chapter where the family is on vacation and mom tells the kids to keep their hands in the car or they'll blow off and a minute later one yells "Hey mom, I just saw a hand go by!" And then...

See what you did? Now I'm all tangled up in tangents! ;)

Bernita said...

Starving, I'm sorry...

Demon Hunter said...

Great post, Bernita! It's good to step outside the box, especially when so many books are being published these days. And congrats to Jaye again! :*)

Charles Gramlich said...

Congrats to Jaye.

I didn't think Lillie spent much time in the box.

Bernita said...

Readers aren't usually comfortable with characters too outside the box, my Demon, so I've been told.

Charles, you surprise me.

spyscribbler said...

Lillie is awesome. She kicks ass and she's got principles. I can't wait to read more of her tales!

BernardL said...

This will probably not be too popular, but I get tired of hearing about putting flaws in our characters. I like the character in the box. I want him or her to kick ass without whining about their childhood, weight, multiple phobias, or the problems they're having making friends. One of the reasons Resident Evil was such a popular movie series is the heroine doesn't whine, she destroys bad things. I don't want to read through a book constantly mouthing the phrase 'Boo hoo, get over it'. :)

Bernita said...

Thank you, Natasha.
~I'm writing as fast as I can~

Part of the problem, Bernard, may be that the "flaws" injected by some writers are superficial.
In fact "hang-ups" seem sometimes to have replace genuine character flaws.
And too often those hang-ups are used to excuse - under the cover of "motivation" - the heroine doing something really, really stupid.
I prefer a character to recognize their shortcomings but to operate in spite of them.
Perhaps that puts a character outside the current box.

Ello said...

Congrats to Jaye! What awesome news!

And I would never say Lillie was just another bobble headed action figure. Is that what you said? She is cool and deep and awesome. I am anxiously waiting to read more about her!

Bernita said...

"She is cool and deep and awesome."
Thank you, Ello.Profoundly.

raine said...

I would never think of Lillie as being "inside the box". She's noble and courageous under circumstances that'd make me run for the hills.
So please write faster.

On my way over to Jaye's...

Bernita said...

Bless you, Raine.
I'm only about 36,000 words in, not quite half-way there.

Robyn said...

I want him or her to kick ass without whining about their childhood, weight, multiple phobias, or the problems they're having making friends.

I must admit to being solidly in that camp, Bernard. In Mr. and Mrs. Smith, both assassins gladly cop to having no remorse after a hit. Made the movie more fun, if that doesn't sound too sick.

Congrats Jaye!

writtenwyrdd said...

I think that it's difficult to write a character that a rabid reader of the genre won't at least partially recognize. But Lillie seems to be her own person, as in she has a character and mannerisms that make her feel like I could hook up with her for lunch and chat about interesting things. So, I wouldn't worry. I think your writing transcends the derivative, even if there may be some similarities. Besides, as Jaye says, her middle finger is flying proudly. Heh. Loved that observation!

writtenwyrdd said...

And by saying your writing transcends the derivative, I am not saying that it is derivative! Just to clarify...