I need some input. I’m working on a manuscript that has gone through an editor at a publishing company. She pointed out some things that I’m going to fix (my heroine was too perfect, and I guess I have to admit she’s right), but one thing she mentioned was my hero’s career.
When the story starts he’s back at ranch in South Dakota which his young daughter inherited from her maternal grandfather. Ranching is something my hero loves, he grew up on a ranch but spent about fifteen years away from it.
That’s all well and good, but while he was away from South Dakota, his late wife was a reporter who covered events all over the world so he more or less lived abroad with her. I needed a career for him, something that he could do while moving from place to place, taking care of his daughter while his wife was doing her job. I decided to make him an author-suspense thriller type. He was good at it but after his wife passed and he and his daughter returned to South Dakota to take over the cattle ranch he kind of put the writing aside.
The editor didn’t like that. Didn’t like that he had just dropped his career as an best selling author to go back to his roots.
I disagree. His first love is the land. Why is it such an odd thing for him to put aside his writing career (which he would concentrate on in the winter months)?
And what other careers could a man who lived mostly out of hotels do? I don’t want him being a “househusband” or a stay at home parent. Day trader?
Should a writing career be off limits for a character? What careers should a writer stay away from when it comes to her characters. Yes, I hear that movie stars and rock stars (country stars etc etc etc) aren’t popular.
I’d love some input from other writers and readers alike. Until then I think I’ll stick to my guns and make my hero a best selling author who’d rather be a rancher.
12 thoughts on “CHARACTER CAREERS”
I read a book once and LOVED it where the woman was an author — she wrote movie screenplays. It was a great book.. I think you are right. I like the author guy who rather be a rancher idea.. it works for me.. maybe something happens for him to get inspired to writing again. Something that may be small to the “big” world but its huge to him.Then maybe he sends a first “draft” to his publisher and he/she LOVES it. It will give the feel of triumph and may just allow your cowboy rancher a feeling of HOME. 🙂 Hope that helped!
Thanks for the comment, Jennifer. I’ve read a book about tv writer but she kept the job. I agree though, I don’t think that being an author should be something to avoid. I have another story where my heroine is a non fiction writer-doing a book on her family’s history. My hero in this one will definitely return to his writing, but I have to decide at how much it will play into the story.
I don’t see anything wrong with him being a writer, but (of course there’s one right…lol?) I would think for him to write and be successful at it, he’d have a strong passion and love of doing that as well as ranching. I would think he’d find it difficult to just put it aside to concentrate on ranching and then picking it back up in the winter.
Most writers almost seem obsessed with their writing. They think about plots, characters, stories all the time. Building and creating in their minds as they drive, work, read, cook…just about everything. Which makes me think he’d have a hard time just stopping for months at a time if he was truly successful at it. Which in my opinion would go hand in hand with being passionate for it.
Hope that makes sense…and it is just my opinion.
As for other careers he could do while traveling…he could be a consultant, or maybe he doesn’t write thrillers, but writes a travel blog or a travel piece for a well known magazine. That way, I could see it not being so much as a passion, but a way to still keep his own identity, but it wasn’t his first love.
Just my quick thoughts. Hope I’ve helped 🙂
LOL Christine, what you said is a lot of what the editor said, about being able to let go of writing so easily when he moves to the ranch. I understand that completely, believe me. Even though I work full time elsewhere, writing isn’t far from my brain. I certainly can adjust things so he ranches during the day and writes at night. But his love for ranching has to be at least as strong as his love of writing. I have thought of the travel writing. He would certainly be in the posiiton to do that.
Thanks for your input. I appreciate it!
Ceri, I started a contemporary a while back that I put aside to finish the book Debby just contracted. But in that story, the hero was a burned out writer. He’d had too many best sellers too fast. Could you hero be a best seller who needs to take a break for his mental health? Especially if his wife passed.
In this particular storyline his wife passed away two years previously and he’s been raising his daughter. After his father in law dies and leaves his ranch to the daughter, they come back to South Dakota so he can take the place over. He’s always loved SD so he doesn’t want to just sell the place and get back to his old life. That’s the basic idea.
I have to ask why he writes. Is it a love or simply a means to make a living? Is it something he chose to ‘try’ while traveling, did well and made money but never really liked so its easy for him to walk away? I ask because I know I love ranching and horses, but writing is my passion over everything I have ever done but I have to try to merge the two loves. Is it possible for him to do that?
Sorry, that’s a lot of questions.
Interesting question, Calisa. I never really delved deeply into his writing career because it wasn’t a main part of the plot. Wasn’t why he was there in South Dakota again. He was good at it, enjoyed doing it, but was able to step away from it to move back to his home town and work on the ranch. He hadn’t planned to give it up completely but the ranch needs help to get back on it’s feet. I do have a scene where he’s emailing his agent with plans on getting back to writing, so he’s not completely turning his back on it.
Thanks for the input!
I just read an interview recently (was it the latest RWA magazine?) about Emily March. She was bestselling author Geralyn Dawson. She got burned out and quit writing. She wrote romance as Geralyn Dawson, but when she decided to write again after a year or so off, she started writing women’s fiction as Emily March. Perhaps your character could get burned out on writing or need a break to care for his daughter and the ranch, etc., then come back to write in a different genre.
He’s not really burned out, just put it on the back burner so he can get his life settled back in South Dakota. The ranch needed his help, and he’s been spending his days getting it back in order. Never considered him writing a different genre. Interesting idea. 🙂
I think what your Editor may mean is by having the hero a writer, it pulls the reader out of the story … because the reader is engaged in reading “fiction” and is presented by a writer who is creating the type of fiction being read …. That being said, if he were a freelance articles writer, (non-fiction) that could work. Or, a corporate consultant business strategist.
True. But the hero’s writing career took a very small role in the story, pretty non-existent in fact. I may look into making him a freelance non-fiction writer. It could work. Thanks!