I’m thinking out loud here so I’m warning you ahead of time- things could get scary. Very scary.
As many of you know, HATSHEPSUT: FEMALE PHARAOH is in the hands of my first round of beta readers. I’ll get the full run-down in a couple weeks when we all meet together. However, my husband is also reading the finished book for the second time, now that it’s all cleaned up. I’ve put him to the task of looking for repetitious words, phrases, etc. Last night he came to me laughing because Hatshepsut’s brother/husband had been insulted six times in one page. Really, it was only five, but whatever. I guess that might be overboard.
But the brother/husband, Thutmosis, is the antagonist. He’s the one wearing the crown while Hatshepsut is doing all the work. The novel is in third person, but that scene is from Hatshepsut’s point of view and she’s really tired of him being a punk.
And vicariously, I’m living through Hatshepsut. And I’m tired of him being a spoiled rotten brat.
But upon thinking about my husband’s comments, he does have a point, much as I might hate to admit it. There’s a fine line between making a villain a Disney caricature (I hate reading villains that remind me of Maleficent or Cruella Deville) or adding depth. I think I’ve done that in other scenes with Thutmosis, but maybe not enough. On the flip side, no protagonist should be a saint. I’ve focused most of my energies on Hatshepsut’s development- she’s by no means perfect. And I modeled her after Oedipus so she’s kind of tragic. Kind of a lot. And she has a nasty temper.
As for Thutmosis? His redeeming quality is his love for his son and another wife, but that’s at Hatshepsut’s expense.
I’m rambling so I’ll stop now. I guess what I’m getting at here is that every character needs flaws and redeeming qualities; it’s just the ratio of each that determines whether they are protagonist or antagonist. Susan blogged on a similar topic the other day- well worth the read!
Do your characters possess traits to flesh them out or are you still working on them?