Ruthy here: A brief intro...
Well. Brief by Ruthy standards!!!
I first came across Abby when she was coordinating a contest I entered. Now, mind you, I'd entered twice, and was pretty sure of myself (like you're surpised, right???) and when I got the results back, I think I kind of sat down in my chair, stared at the numbers and the comments, and then hired a crane to lift my lower lip back in the vicinity of my jaw.
Abby's first contact with me was when I blew judge #1 in (the only time I have ever done that, EVER...) for her unprofessionalism. And the second manuscript was wonderfully judged, that judge was spot on, tight and knew her stuff, but the first one...
Oh mylanta. I e-mailed Abby only because I'd just finished coordinating the Barclay Sterling and had been a category coordinator for the Genesis for two years. I figured I'd want to know if something was that wrong, that far gone because a contest's reputation is staked on those awesome judges that give of their time and talents.
That was our first encounter. Oddly enough, she still likes me. We haven't quite figured that out yet, but I'm content. I like being liked! Abby's bright, refreshing and humorous writing has been well received both in Superromance and the Nascar line. Read what she's got to say about birth order and characterization and leave your e-mail in your comment for a chance at an Abby Gaines romance.
I promise, you won't be sorry!
I’ve always been fascinated by the science of birth order, by how a person’s position in their family – oldest, middle child, youngest, or only child – affects their personality, decision-making, education, career and even their marriage.
Some years ago I read The New Birth Order Book, by Kevin Leman (available in CBA bookstores). Dr. Leman is a youngest child, so the tone of his book is a little too me-me-me for my oldest child sensibilities. I’m not dissing the good doctor here, I’m just saying that birth order also affects how one writes and reads! My own preference is for a crisper, more authoritative style, but that’s because oldest children are usually as bossy as youngest children are self-indulgent.
I found I shook up my writing when I considered other birth orders for my characters, both heroes and heroines. Think now about your current wip, and ask yourself where your hero or heroine fits in the family. There’s a good chance you’ve defaulted to the oldest or only child and that’s not surprising – romance novel heroes are usually successful, commanding, often bossy, and those are often traits of the oldest or only child. My early novels, and in fact most of the romance novels I can think of, have featured heroes who were oldest or only children, or psychological oldest children (meaning, for example, there was a big age gap between them and the next kid up the line).
The same goes for heroines. We like our heroines to be responsible and independent, again biggies for the oldest child. I’m not saying others in the family don’t have these qualities, by the way, it’s just that they often present themselves most strongly in the oldest.
But I’ve found that using the other kids in the family adds variety to my work. I’ve recently completed two trilogies – Those Merritt Girls is a Harlequin Superromance trilogy about three sisters, and for Harlequin NASCAR I’ve written three books about the Matheson brothers.
It was a lot of fun creating a realistic family dynamic for those series, based on the mindsets of different birth orders. The characters’ goals and conflicts rose naturally out of their birth orders, and that made it easier to develop each story.
You’ll notice I haven’t said anything about middle children yet – and that’s not surprising because those middles are so often overlooked! But middle children are perhaps the most complex, certainly the most mysterious, in the family – lots of conflict for the eager writer to mine.
So, next time you’re trying to come up with a fresh character, put some thought into which birth order you’ll use. There are other books as well as Dr. Leman’s and it’s well worth reading up on the subject.
If you have questions or comments about birth order, please fire away. One commenter will win their choice of either Her Surprise Hero (Superromance, Jan 2010, third in the Those Merritt Girls series), or The Comeback (Harlequin NASCAR, Feb 2010, the third Matheson brothers book). In case you’re wondering, Her Surprise Hero is the oldest daughter’s story, and The Comeback is the middle son’s story.
Ruthy again... Coffee's on and IT'S FRIDAY!!!! Reason enough to grab a mug and pop in, tell Abby all about your H/H and how they match up in birth order. It's amazing how life's patterns affect us in so many ways!