04 December 2009

Character Professions

In my previous post I talked about the heroine of my novel having a career change from lawyer to finance trader, and how this will support the story and fit the character. But have you noticed how many times writers make their protagonist a writer? Is this a case of writing about what you know, or do readers really want to know about a writer's life? Sometimes I suspect authorial laziness.

The best book I've read where the protagonist is a writer is Trisha Ashley's "The Urge to Jump". Written in first person, the voice is strong, opinionated, and unique. It matters that Sappho (the heroine) is a writer; her profession isn't just a comfortable way of letting her meander through the story. No, the fact she's a writer drives the story. Sappho's used a real man as the basis for her hero (or used his photograph) and there will be consequences. And her villain is gorgeous, or should I say villains? There are plenty of people, warts and all, spilling across the page.

"The Urge to Jump" is my favourite book by Trisha Ashley. Good enough that I've bought others and been disappointed that they haven't met this gold standard, although they remain a pleasant way to spend the afternoon. Somewhere between women's fiction and chicklit. Think Katie Fforde.

Having put my vote in for "The Urge to Jump", I just remembered Elizabeth Peters' Jacqueline Kirby. Now, there's a character who's a writer and who I thoroughly enjoy. There are probably more. Hmm. Must stop thinking of this and start typing novel.

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