Character Development | How Author Meredith Schorr Hit the Nail on the Head with her Female Protagonist
Meredith Schorr, who wrote Just Friends With Benefits, has received some fantastic reviews on both Goodreads & Amazon, and the one thing that caught my eye was that the reviewers state the same thing over and over: that Stephanie is a great character whom every woman can identify with.
Stephanie is a great character, surrounded by great friends. Schorr created a cast of characters who could be plucked out of any of our lives. – Kelly, Crib Notes
My absolute favorite part of this book though had to be the group of friends. Made up of different characters, guys and girls, couples and singles with a variety of different jobs, they reminded me exactly of my friends. – Samantha, Chick Lit Plus
“I saw a lot of myself in Stephanie and I think a lot of women can identify with her.” – Scorpio Girl
Character development is tricky, but for her readers Meredith seems to have hit the nail on the head. I stopped to chat with Meredith about how she did it.
“What parts of Stephanie make her so likable? How did you develop her character so that she was one the reader could identify and fall in love with?”
There are a lot of likable characters in chick-lit. I love Becky Bloomwood from the Shopaholic books. She was adorable, quirky and big hearted and I’ve read every book in the series. But I think you would be hard pressed to find anyone in your circle of friends remotely similar to her.
Same thing with Carrie Bradshaw from SATC. I loved watching her on television, but don’t actually know anyone who has her designer wardrobe, celebrity friends and is invited to the hottest restaurant openings, all while living in a studio apartment and barely paying her rent. The characters of Becky and Carrie are both brilliantly created, but they are not based on real women.
By contrast, Stephanie Cohen has a non-glamorous, but perfectly acceptable career as a paralegal and her social life consists mostly of hanging out in the homes of her non-famous friends or at bars and restaurants that do not require a reservation two months in advance. She isn’t the “it” girl, but she is not fatally flawed, suffering from crazy obsessions or a girl to be pitied either. She is pretty and thin and attracts men, but not every man who sees her. At times, she is comfortable in her own skin and content and at other times, she’s an emotional wreck. She does not engage in casual sex on a regular basis, but she has her weaknesses and gives into them from time to time. She’s not a femme fatale and can be pretty awkward when she feels insecure or lacking confidence but she knows how to seduce a man with whom she feels secure and sexy. She’s not so poor that her credit card is maxed out and she works hard for her money, but she also splurges on the occasional vacation and fancy night out. In other words, she’s basically a regular chick.
I wanted to write a book that defied the old stereotypes of “chick lit”. I wanted to write a fun, entertaining read, but not one about the girl who dated 100 frogs before meeting her prince or the girl who was obsessed with getting married. And not one about the girl who feared her evil boss or spent her free time buying designer shoes, sipping martinis, lamenting her weight and jet setting around the world. I chose to focus my story on the common mistakes women make when dating and their tendency to sabotage their own relationships, rather than portray Stephanie as a “victim” of someone else’s behavior.
Basically, I wanted to write a story that could actually happen in real life, about a girl who makes mistakes lots of women tend to make, while surrounded by friends and family members readers might recognize from their own worlds. And I think that is the reason readers liked and related so well to Stephanie.
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