Opposites might attract in both fiction and real life, but when the opposites are an author and one of her characters, things get tricky.
After all, how is an author to dream up ideas that are the opposite of her own? How does an author write about experiences she’s never had?
In To Believe In You, Matt Visser is on his best behavior because he wants to redeem himself in the eyes of his family and friends, but his craving for adventure sometimes lures him past the safety concerns that halt me in my tracks.
A careful rule-follower, I’m much more like the heroine, Lina Abbey. She learned early in life that taking risks could cost her the things she values most. Playing it safe has paid off in some ways—her grandparents trusted her enough to leave their fortune to her—but in her love life, she got burned despite her best intentions.
I knew I wanted to open the book by showing Matt’s daredevil side through Lina’s cautious perspective.
What’s an author to do?
We have a few options that include online research, signing up for experiences and tours, interviewing professionals, and visiting the library.
These ideas all have merit, but one of my favorite parts of writing characters unlike myself is getting input from loved ones with life experiences different from my own.
Enter my younger brother.
As a former Marine and a food truck owner with an employment history that involves a stereo equipment store and a gun shop, he has a very different skill set than me, making him a valuable resource when I’m trying to write characters like Matt and situations I’ve never navigated.
We kicked around a few possibilities for the opening scene until he named one that I spontaneously replied to with an incredulous, “That is such a bad idea.”
A dangerous idea. An idea that no one should attempt.
My brother replied, “Isn’t that the point?”
He was right, of course, so the stunt went into the opening scene of To Believe In You. And Matt pulls it off.
More or less.
The challenges in writing a character so different from myself were only just beginning, and finishing Matt’s story involved several more conversations with my brother. I’m trying to avoid spoilers here, but if you read it an get curious, message me and I’ll let you know which scenes needed his help… Although given what I’ve told you about him, you might be able to guess!
Other aspects of the story required help from others (and Google), but the extra hassle of writing about things I haven’t experienced seems to have paid off.
Some of my early readers commented that they liked how different Matt was from my other heroes. More adventurous and less settled, he certainly made for a fun character to write.
To Believe In You releases 10/17/22. Pre-order now so you can see Matt in action. Plus, earlier books in the series are part of the Back to School giveaways we’re doing here on Inspy Romance this month! Be sure to comment on the post to be entered.
What character have you loved, despite the fact that he or she is your opposite?