Carrie is Complex (but don’t tell her you know)

Actress Sarah Bolger would make a great Carrie* 

Like so much in “Burnouts, Geeks & Jesus Freaks: a love story” Carrie Gould is average and plain on the surface.  She is average looking, has average grades and comes from an typical suburban family.  That’s the way the world sees her and she likes it that way.  But only because she has to work to keep up the appearance of average, typical and normal.

Carrie was one of the most complex characters that I created and I was tempted to tell the story in first person from her point of view because she keeps so much of who she really is under wraps.  In the end it was more challenging and a better story to let her conflicted, complex self come through in her actions (and sometimes her thoughts).  

Her struggles mainly come from her home life.  Her mother has strong narcissistic tendencies and her father is emotionally disconnected.  That combination of personalities plus her parent’s odd, but lasting marriage creates a world for Carrie that is internally dysfunctional yet easily appears unblemished to outsiders.  Her scars are all internal, invisible to everyone.

The conflict between her outward appearance and internal struggles are played out in her social life.  Only those who know her well understand why she feels more connected to the burnout kids.  Although her family is physically intact, it is emotionally just as broken as the kids who are missing parents and their support.

Her conflict is further complicated (and hidden) by the fact that she is generally a happy person and spends a lot of time laughing with her friends.  As is often the case with kids from broken or damaged homes, Carrie’s friends replace what is missing in her life.  They give her the pep talks and support she doesn’t get at home.  

Carrie’s personality was also created as the perfect contrast to Ben’s.  She’s as impulsive as he is regimented.  She pushes him to lighten up and he gives her stability.  He is the Yin to her Yang; together making each a better person. 

The final elements I added to her character was the internal strength that emerges when life puts her to the test through her marriage.  The silver lining to having grown up in an unstable home is her ability to handle chaos and keep working when everything is falling apart around her.  

I get more compliments on Carrie than any other character.  She is the most relatable and readers tell me they feel like they knew her in high school.  Which is a huge compliment to me.  It feels great to have created such a complex, yet real, character.

*Note* I did an interview that will appear on the Pretty Little Pages blog.  I was asked to choose actors who could play each character.  See all my choices on June 2nd. 

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2 thoughts on “Carrie is Complex (but don’t tell her you know)

  1. Interesting thoughts, Karen.

    I must say that there is a certain quality in writing characters that aren't obviously amazing or awe-inspiring; sometimes, the best characters are the ones that show strength more subtly.

    I also wonder as to why book blogs are so obsessed with actors. Do they think relating something to a more ubiquitous medium makes it more relatable? Honestly, I think books are interesting enough as they are; there need be no cinematography to make it good.

    I would be a script-writer if that were the case, now wouldn't I?

    Like

  2. I had to think this one over. I think that we are obsessed (your word) with actors because they give readers a simplified view of what a character looked like in the author's mind. Plus, who wouldn't want to see their work made into a movie one day. Dream casting might be the first step.
    Thanks for your thoughts on the topic, Alex.

    Like

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