I've been exchanging e-mails with another author (who is running a very popular serial right now) and the subject turned to characters and character motivations. It kind of got me thinking about "Hooky".
I've always ascribed to the notion that after the general premise, "character" should always come before "plot". In other words, create the characters you want to create, throw them into a particular situation and watch them dance.
The question then becomes: "What is a good character?"
For me, there are basically two kinds of traits I write for my characters. I want to make them the kind of people I want to know and/or I want to make them compelling (sometimes they can be both if I'm really lucky, lol).
I had one reader who told me that they thought that Derek was "too nice" and that Sandra was "too bitchy". The thing is that without these two having these traits, the premise of the story would be very different.
If Derek was just some typical guy, he would not have been able to handle the situation effectively. It was his kindness, compassion and maturity that makes this story possible. It was Sandra's ultra-bitchiness that was the catalyst for the story's premise. Without it, there would not be a story.
The other thing is that some readers have bemoaned the fact that the story is not just about Derek and the girls. Part of what makes the story work in my mind is that both Derek and the girls have their own lives which the stranger's curse has complicated. The five of them need to find a way to deal with their respective lives while carrying out the stranger's dictates. Derek and Sandy's plan to mix their worlds is a good way to do this (and to improve the tone of their school).
This of course means that the focus of the story changes a bit, but I hope I've done a good enough job creating interesting characters and new relationships to keep the story entertaining.
Well that's some of my thinking. As always, thanks for the continued feedback, support and good scores (lol)!