When Good Characters Do Bad Things, OR The Beginning of Legally Mine

I knew these comments were going to happen. In fact, I've been sort of bracing myself against them. As review come in, this is me:

Nic Waiting for Reviews

MASSIVE SPOILER ALERT: DO NOT READ PAST THIS POINT IF YOU DO NOT WANT TO KNOW WHAT HAPPENS IN LEGALLY MINE.

Okay, now that we've gotten that out of the way, I have something to say.

Something happens at the beginning of Legally Mine that I knew had the potential to piss a lot of people off. At the end of Legally Yours, we find out that Skylar, the main female character, was pregnant. By the time I had released that book, I already knew what was going to happen next, which is why it was rough to get all of those reader comments saying that Brandon was going to be an amazing father. Which...yes. He probably is. Just not in Book 2.

This, as many of you discovered, is because in the beginning of Legally Mine, Skylar has an abortion. And yes, it's Brandon's.

...

...

Sorry, I was just waiting for you to stab me through the computer screen.

I know. I KNOW. I know this is frustrating, and I know I'm breaking a lot of rules here. Abortions aren't supposed to happen in romances, right? Aside from how polarizing they are politically, if the baby's gone, it's supposed to be through a more palatable route, like miscarriage, that doesn't make the character culpable, and, if some of your reviews are any indication, ultimately unlikeable.

But that wasn't my character. That's not Skylar.

See, another thing I see from a lot of your (very appreciated, by the way) reviews is that you love my characters' multi-dimensionality. You recognize that I'm not just writing pulp fiction here; I'm trying to write real people. And the reality is that this story is as much about Skylar and Brandon's growth as very flawed, complicated people as it is about their love story.

Skylar's a pain in the ass. She tries to make smart decisions, but the reality is, she's a little dysfunctional socially, and like many people in their mid-twenties, is pretty self-absorbed. Does that frustrate you? Because let me tell you, it frustrates the hell out of me.

Nic Writing Skylar

But I'm not God. And when her pregnancy happened (and yes, it does "feel" like things just "happen" sometimes when I am writing them. I often feel like a photographer more than a creator), I also had to ask myself: what would someone like this do? What would someone who is cornered by shitty circumstances, someone who is a liberal, urban thinker, someone who is extremely career-driven and well-aware of a lot of the pressures inordinately put on women to raise children, someone who is also terrified about her own abilities to be a parent in the first place...what would she do?

The answer was quite simple. She wouldn't keep it.

Nic Writing The Scene (You Know the One)

It was hard. It was so hard to write that scene (the one at the doctor's office, and the one where she takes the pills themselves) that I had to cut them short. It was so hard that I had to come back to them after I had written most of the book.

But I also hope this decision is a catalyst for a lot of the character development Skylar goes through during the course of the book and the next. Legally Mine was hard to write because even the happiest of scenes were riddled with her remorse, her guilt, coming to terms with the fact that she has hurt the person she loves the most.

And isn't that what so often happens with first love?

You tell me.


One last note that should probably serve as a disclaimer about my books moving forward: 

If you want characters who are perfect, you should not read my books.

If you want characters who always do the right thing, you should not read my books.

If you want characters who won't be flawed, make mistakes, even do some of those things repeatedly, you should definitely not read my books.

I don't think that life has to imitate art (meaning that art should be something we all aspire to), nor do I think art must imitate life. Usually it's somewhere in the middle––taking the intense, the mundane, the beautiful, the ugly, and amplifying it to the point where viewers take something away from it that allows them to feel their own human experience that much more intensely.

xo,
Nic

Comments

  1. Lol, this is really true. When people who are really good try to act like a bad person everyone just starts to bash them and I don't think this is right.

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  2. I don't want characters who are perfect!!!!! You did an awesome job at sorting through that whole abortion thing. It's reality, folks. Real people every day have to make horrible decisions like this for numerous reasons that are none of anyone else's business. If you had been too scared to write this, it would've detracted too much of the real angst involved in navigating real relationships. Why does romance writing have to necessarily be some exercise in air-headed, ignorant, unrealistic situation-telling? Real dialogues, secrets later revealed, and the reasons behind them make stories lasting and classic. I, for one, don't want to spend my time and money on empty sexual accounts... plenty of that is out there and other people can waste their money on it. I want to be entertained, motivated, intellectually stimulated, as well as feeling emotions. Thanks for a great series.

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    Replies
    1. Thank you so much, Jacquie! It's a relief to know other readers see these qualities and appreciate them. I'm so glad you enjoyed the series!

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