A little baffled
RITA-winning author Kristan Higgins likes her characters to know what they want, but not how to get it. As she writes her heroes and heroines’ struggles to piece together successful relationships, she works to evoke her readers’ emotions by evoking her own.
How do you develop heroes and heroines?
You know, I don’t really have a type. I write alpha heroes. I write beta heroes, I guess they’re called. But I like to write a hero who knows what he wants and is a little baffled as to how to get it, because, you know, you need to have conflict and turmoil in your book in order to keep it interesting. So a lot of my heroes are a bit frustrated as to, “How do I get to this point with this woman?” And I like them to be very caring, very faithful, loyal people, hardworking, and a little bit screwed up. [laughs]
And as for my heroines, again, you know, I guess I have a type. My heroines are very honest. They know what problems they have. They know how they are. They know what they want. And, again, they’re just a little confused as to how to get it. And they’re very good friends, they’ve very open people by and large, and they have a plan, a plan of how things are going to work out, and inevitably that plan falls to pieces because it’s a book and those things have to happen. But they all value the same things, and I love admitting that a relationship is something worth investing in. All my heroines believe that, that the goal is to be with someone who really appreciates you for the person that you are and that that is something worth putting all this effort and time into.
How do you create meaningful characters?
I’m very hard on myself, and I think that’s why I’m successful, because I’m not satisfied with the easy process and I try to look deeper and say, “How can I make this better? How can I make this more interesting and more emotional?” Because I think my job is to make the reader feel everything, and if they feel what my characters are feeling, then they’re invested in them and they want to continue and see how this turns out. And they want to understand that when the character screws up, of course they’re going to screw up, they’re not able to get through this just yet.
So if I can make my readers feel that, then I’ve done my job. So I’ve got to feel it first. So If I’m not laughing and crying during the story, then they’re not going to, so I keep going back trying to make it better, bigger, stronger, and I love it.