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The Halo Effect

Posted by CreateSpaceBlogger Feb 7, 2018

Should you chase the Halo Effect to sell more books?

 

I'm short and bald.... Well, shortish. According to the unwritten rules of personal bias, those are two strikes against me. I get no love from the Halo Effect.

 

I should explain. The Halo Effect is when you and I (independently or collectively) judge someone based on our personal biases. For example, tall men are generally viewed as strong and powerful before anything is even established about them. They don't have to speak a word before they are viewed as leaders. Obviously, not all tall men are leaders, but we have a cultural bias that often times causes us to assume that they are. They are given the benefit of the doubt. I'm sure there are tall men reading this, and they are countering the above statement with a litany of incidences that prove there are more drawbacks than benefits to being tall and male, but that is beyond the discussion I want to get into. What I'd like to discuss is how the Halo Effect impacts a writer when it comes to character development.

 

Think about it. If you want to know what your own personal biases are, look at the characters you've developed, particularly your protagonists, and then look to see how your personal character bias matches or defies societal norms. The question you are faced with is would it help you sell more books if you developed characters that are more in line with what society considers appealing.

 

Personally, I’d advise against chasing the Halo Effect in an effort to sell more books, but I fully admit that I don’t know if that is the right "business" move.  A lot of romance novels do very well, in part because they include characters that take full advantage of the Halo Effect.

 

I guess I'm perpetually pulling for the underdog. I love it when the shortish, bald guy gets the win.

 

-Richard

 

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Richard Ridley is an award winning author and paid CreateSpace contributor.

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Character Development Lessons from Breaking Bad

The ordinary protagonist

355 Views 1 Comments Permalink Tags: character, character_development, character_arc, characterization, writing_characters
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I'm going to commit a literary faux paus today and discuss an element of story in a different medium, one that traditionally is not met with favor among novelists. That medium is television. Now, in case you just groaned and rolled your eyes, let me explain that today's television programming is varied and much grittier than it once was. There's a lot of high quality narrative writing at nearly every stop on the dial or phone app or streaming service, however television is consumed these days.

 

The show I want to talk about, Breaking Bad, ended its run a few years ago, but it's one of my favorites. I've said repeatedly that watching that series from beginning to end is like taking a Master's class in character development for any type of storyteller. Walter White, the protagonist, may be one of the most fully realized characters I've ever encountered, but I want to talk about another character, the villain, Gustavo "Gus" Fring.

 

Gus is menacing. He's stoic. He's brutal. He's duplicitous. He's everything you want in a villain and more. The creators of the show did something brilliant with Gus' villainy. They hid it under a cool exterior that could even be soft at times. I think he yelled once during the entire time he was on the show. He did bad things, but he did them in an almost businesslike manner. The creators allowed you to see his tragic past and witness what turned him down the psychopathic road. They gave you a reason to root for him. They managed to make you feel uneasy about him and sympathetic toward him at the same time. It helped that his nemesis was a somewhat volatile good guy that you weren't always sure was the good guy.

 

So, today's Breaking Bad lesson is that your bad guy has to be just as complicated as your protagonist. Yes, he's the heavy, but that doesn't mean you skimp on his dimensions. Find something that will give the readers pause, where they may even find themselves hoping he (or she) survives.

 

-Richard

 

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Richard Ridley is an award-winning author and paid CreateSpace contributor.

 

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The Basic Elements of a Character Arc

Taking a Character from Good to Bad

1,464 Views 0 Comments Permalink Tags: novel, author, writing, characters, storytelling, character_development, character_arc, writing_characters, villians, scene_writing


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