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Friday, August 12, 2011

The Glories of the Nice Guy

Halcyon House is actually undergoing some real progress at the moment. I've just introduced the current "nice guy" of the cast, Neil Watson!

*fanfare, cymbals*

Neil Watson is a reporter for the Bethany Falls Herald, the local town newspaper. He's grown up in Bethany Falls, where there are lots of stories about Halcyon House and the McKenna family. Less than flattering stories about old Aidan McKenna and Eamon McKenna especially, much to the alarm and dismay of Ayden and her brothers. Neil inadvertently lets the information slip in a decidedly less than tactless way. Ayden is not amused. See, that's the thing: Neil means well. He always means well. But his intentions sometimes get the best of him and make him trip up. And therein lies the problem.

Now, the common misconception is usually "Nice guys always finish last," which is why the "Bad Boy" trope is currently so popular among the female audience. There's not much opportunity for conflict, drama or interest when it comes to nice. BUT--but--I happen to be very fond my Neil Watson. I think he's great, though he is kind of oblivious and he tends to babble and/or go on and on. As you can imagine, this does not often endear him to the rest of cast. (Sydney thinks he's just annoying, while Ayden considers Neil to be amusing at the very least.)

But I, the writer, think Nice Guys don't get enough credit. Don't they make the best of friends? Or make the best jokes? They're reliable, patient and oftentimes, just kindhearted. I think that's sorely missing from the usual cast of characters today. I offer for the consideration of the court Atticus Finch, or Razo and Finn (not my Finn, but another one) of the Forest from Shannon Hale's Books of Bayern (which I really, really, really encourage everyone to read) or the ubiquitous Jacob Black. They're all Nice Guys, and as far as I can see, they definitely don't "finish last."

So, I like Nice Guys. They don't get enough screen credit. They're often pushed away in favor of the "Bad Boy" or the "Brooding Boy," or the "Troubled but Cute" Guy, or usually a combination of all three. However, I must admit that again, there's more scope for better story-telling and drama with anyone of those types than just your average Nice Guy. However, once the Nice Guys have revealed hidden depths and then there's something that gets in the way of his "niceness." And that is usually when things get...interesting, shall we say.

And should they get interesting, you've got to take care that the Nice Guys comes out with his niceness intact, or exchanged for a more experienced, more cautious form of nicety. The Nice Guy is nice--but he can't be a doormat. That's when you know that whatever they went through didn't really change anything. He has to become the "Nice-but-Wiser-Guy" for you know that the lesson he went through really stuck. For instance Sydney, contrary to popular opinion, is nice...but he'd never admit it. Mostly because he's been very badly hurt because of being nice to someone who most decidedly did not deserve it (yes, Violet, I'm looking at you) and doesn't fancy having it happen again. But, like another favorite hero of mine, his heart really is quite soft, beneath all the tough outer coatings. He just needs some help getting back there.

Which is what Ayden is for! *grins*

Over & Out,


  1. Rachel, your perceptiveness is what sets you apart from so many other writers your age. This is actually a pretty well-thought out analysis of one of the central tenets of fiction writing: characters are story. The last thing you want is a boring story with "nice characters." At the same time, it is all too easy to stuff a cast full of brooding, angst-ridden plot devices and end up with something trite and uninteresting. You need to show growth and delve into these people's minds. You need to make them come alive: show your readers that there's more to them than what lies on the surface. You're good at that. That's what makes you a better writer than I am.

  2. Change your profile age. You're not 19 anymore!!