Why of course, I’ll change my name! *blush*

Hope you are having a happy and safe International Talk Like a Pirate Day, yarr!

Just an announcement to say that I have purchased my domain name, so the URL of this blog will change to aelizabethwest.com.  You can still get here from aelizabethwest.wordpress.com, but you might want to update any bookmarks or anything in the next few days.

Kermit sour faceImage:  knowyourmeme.com

Yes, Kermit, I know change is hard, but Brian Keene had some very good advice about taking control of your public persona.  Anyone with a commercial (or potentially commercial) internet presence would do well to be mindful of it.

I’ll be on tumblr too, if I can figure out what the hell is going on over there.  Look for me at aelizabethwest.tumblr.com.  Be patient with it; the interface is crazy and it might look pretty rough for a while.

Have a great weekend, everyone!

In the Thick of It

I learned the hard way when writing the fanfiction that eventually became Rose’s Hostage that if you ignore a persistent muse, it won’t do any good.  It won’t go away, and eventually you’ll have to give it its due.

The Secret Book is taking over.

I’m calling it that because I can’t tell you what it’s about yet.  I can only say this:  it’s not like anything I’ve written before, and it’s HARRRRD.

If writing were easy, they’d call it this. 

If writing were easy, they’d call it this.

Image:  comicvine.com

The characters are more complex, the story is a little strange, and it’s going to require a ton of research, since part of it is set in the film industry, about which I know almost nothing.  But when I think about it, I get excited, and that hasn’t happened for a while.  Even finishing up Tunerville, which I do really like, didn’t have the same push behind it.

I’m still working on the RH sequel.   And I’m still planning my holiday, which has morphed me into THAT person.  I can’t shut up about it.  I’m like that annoying coworker who can only talk about her wedding.

Next time you see this on here, it will be a picture by ME.  :D

Next time you see this on here, it will be a picture by ME.  :D

Image:  Lucaks / “LochNess2″. Licensed under Creative Commons Attribution 2.5 via Wikimedia Commons

 My train tickets are purchased, my B&B is booked, I have a ticket to the Harry Potter Studio Tour, one to Riverdance, and I’m set.  Now all I have to do is wait.  I’m not very good at waiting.

I’m so excited to go to the U.K.  If England were a man, I’d say he was a bit boozy, a bit silly, and never boring.  As for looks?  Oh, he’s so handsome.  I never tire of gazing at him.  Every place I see is a new angle, and I can never look at him enough.  I’m sure I’ll love his brothers Wales and Scotland just as well.

I feel as though I’m traveling to meet a lover.  Who knows?  Maybe I am, and I don’t know it yet.  The world is a magical place, and anything can happen.

In the meantime, I’m trying to get some work done.  I’ll get that next vocabulary post up.  It’s been bugging me that I didn’t get that to you earlier.

Have a wonderful week, and I’ll see you soon.

Too Many Feels about Writing

If you follow me on Twitter, you might have seen this exchange:


When people say things like this, I feel great.  For a while.  The monumental effort involved in this endeavor, especially when contemplating the vast desert expanse before reaching publication, is enough to crush even the most positive mindset.  It’s fragile, and the slightest jar can be enough to shatter it.

Writing (or any creative profession, really) carries a lot of feelings with it.  Some people have great difficulty dealing with them.  If you’re inclined toward addiction, you might cope by self-medicating.  I don’t do that, but I’m quite sure the stress will cut years off my life.

In no particular order, here are some of the feelings writing has been poking me with lately.


Publishing takes a long time.  I’m not the most patient person on earth, and I’ll never be any more so than I am right now.  I find myself saying, Enough already, Universe.  Let’s get going.  It would probably help if I had something in my personal life, but alas, the Big U has implied that the books will come first.  This vague revelation leads to hurt, because I’ve waited long enough, thank you.


Did I cross all my I’s and dot all my T’s?  Is that query letter as good as it can be?  Answer:

It can always be better, but the time to realize that is not after you’ve hit Send.


This strikes at odd moments and may be unrelated to writing, since I’m going on vacation soon.  I booked my train tickets this weekend.  For two days, I walked around with a heightened sense of anticipation that sent energy surging through my body, almost like an adrenaline rush but without the shakiness and rapid heartbeat.  Elation makes me hyper-aware of things—if I listen to music, I hear every note, every chord.  The sky looks bluer, the future brighter, and at those moments, anything seems possible.


Elation also leaped up after Brian posted that tweet (seriously, a horror Grand Master said he likes my book!), but then I stared, unseeing, at the screen and it all turned to pressure and stress.  What to say next?  How to say it?  Why can’t I put what is in my head down on the page?  I know what’s going to happen.  Why am I so goddamn tired?


Creative people do get jealous of each other.  Arthur Golden’s Memoirs of a Geisha made me so jealous I could hardly see straight.  It helped that I thoroughly enjoyed the story.  The best way to deal with professional jealousy is to examine the work and observe successful elements you can translate to your own work, to make it better.

I have little to say about personal jealousy, except that if it leads to obsession, you better get rid of it fast because you won’t be able to concentrate long enough to write a coherent sentence.

 It mostly comes at night…mostly. 

It mostly comes at night…mostly.

 Image:  ign.com


I’ll never be good enough; I’ll never be published, and no agent / publisher / reader will ever give a shit about me.  Here’s where the dearth of personal involvement cuts deepest.  It hurts when no one you’re not related to is there to say “Hey, I love you no matter what, and I think you’re brilliant.”  The evil little voice inside my head says that since no other person wants me, clearly no agent ever will either.


This is the cruelest one of all.  It makes you delusional.  You feel that possibilities are endless.  Writing by its very nature forces you to imagine them, and this hones your ability to hope.  It becomes a tool that can turn on you in an instant and cut deeper than a surgeon’s scalpel into the most tender and vulnerable part of your psyche.  Reality is hope’s most dangerous predator.

Oh hello….didn’t see you there.  0_0

Oh hello….didn’t see you there.  0_0

 Image:  Maggie Smith / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

And then there’s this.  Although I’m fairly sure I wouldn’t feel the same, you never can tell.  Dreams up close can be rather frightening.


Feelings aren’t always rational, and neither are the thoughts that go with them.  They aren’t good or bad, either; they just are.  What you do with them is what matters.

Writers can use healthy mental exercises to curb thoughts like “I’m not good enough.”  If they are actively practicing their craft, they will get better at it.  I guarantee you Brian would not have said he liked a manuscript of mine two books ago.  The fact that he’s saying it now lets me know that I’ve grown as a writer.  By doing what?  Wishing?  No, by writing.

You know that thing the Universe has apparently sent to someone else (grr)?  Well, wishing might help here, and praying might also, but so will preparing myself to receive the opportunity if the Universe should reconsider.  And that’s what I have to do for writing too.

When it’s your turn to cycle through these emotions, don’t try to push them away.  Let them come.  Clamping a lid down on feelings only ensures their eventual explosive release.  And don’t let them talk you into giving up.  The only book that is never published is the one never written.

London Links!

A friend at work and I went to lunch yesterday, and we were talking about my upcoming trip to London and Cardiff and her planned trip to London next year.  I told her I’d send her some links.  Of course, my enormous email turned into a blog post.

Doesn’t everything?

Doesn’t everything?

Image:  yingyo / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Instead of just sending them to her, I thought I would draw on my previous trip (though it was very long ago) and recent research and post it here in case anyone reading wants to go.  Seriously, off the top of my head, I know five people besides me who are going either this year or next.

So this may be my longest post ever, but here is my compilation of travel tips for first-timers in London.  If I got anything wrong, please correct me in the comments.

General stuff

First off, a few useful facts:

  • The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland (aka UK or Britain) consists of England, Scotland (for the moment), Wales, and Northern Ireland.
  • London is the capital of England.
  • Edinburgh is pronounced ED-in-burr-uh.
  • Say Gloucester as GLAW-ster.
  • Say Leicester Square as LESS-ter.
  • Say Grosvenor Street as GROVE-ner.
  • Say Thames as Tems.  
  • Striped pedestrian crossings are called zebra crossings.  Pronounce zebra to rhyme with Debra.
  • ATMs are called cashpoints.  Rick Steves has more info on how to use them here.

Temperatures are in Celsius.  Weights and measures are metric (except for miles, I think).  You may see 24-hour time (00:00–24:00) in train stations, though if you ask someone the time, they’ll tell you it’s four p.m., not 1600 hours.

Some public bathrooms are pay toilets (mostly in tube stations).  You have to pay to get into the stall.  Save your change!  I have no idea how much they cost now.  Keep a pocket pack of tissue in your bag in case you get caught without any.  Self-cleaning toilet booths are pay also.

It’s okay to ask for the toilet in London; alternately, the loo, WC, lavatory, bog, ladies’, or gents’.


If you’re going through Heathrow, you can take the Underground (commonly referred to as the tube) to central London.  It’s cheaper than the Heathrow Express.  Find travel information here on the airport’s website (Transport & Directions).

Power adapters

Voltage is higher than in the US.  You’ll need UK adapters; ones for Europe in general won’t work.  Amazon has them.  I’d take one with you so you have it right away in case you need to charge your phone, etc.  For more info, check here.

UK power outlets are bigger than ours.  Many of them have switches.  If you plug something into the outlet with your adapter and it doesn’t work, try flipping the switch.

uk outlet

Image: amazon.co.uk

If you forget anything, you can buy it at a drugstore (chemist).  I won’t even bother to pack toiletries, just put travel sizes in my carry-on in case my luggage is delayed.  I’ll buy shampoo, etc. there and then ditch it when I leave.


Accents aren’t that hard, especially if you watch a lot of BBCA, but not everyone in England sounds like they just stepped out of Downton Abbey.  The only person I had trouble with was a cabdriver with the thickest accent I’ve ever heard in my life—he was damn near incomprehensible.  He was nice; he laughed pretty good-naturedly when I admitted I couldn’t understand him.

If someone is talking too fast and you can’t quite keep up, all you have to say is “I’m sorry, I’m not used to your accent.  Could you please repeat that more slowly?”

Brits have different terms than we do for things.  Look at this link for a list of words that might trip you up.

In Wales (Cymru), everyone speaks English, though signs are in both English and Welsh.  Click the link to hear someone say the word Wales in Welsh—it’s nothing like it looks!  I’m planning to practice a bit of pronunciation, so I won’t end up in the sea if I ask where something is.

Good to know.

Good to know.

Image:  bbc.co.uk

Getting around

The London Underground

Last time I was there, the Underground had little yellow paper tickets you put through the barrier (yes I’m old—shut yer gob).  It didn’t take me long to get the hang of it, but now people have Oyster cards.

You use an Oyster card on the London Underground (tube) and the bus.  This link helped me understand the Oyster card / Travelcard thing.  If you’re staying more than a few days, it’s cheaper to get an Oyster card at Heathrow when you get there.  You can top it up at the tube stations.  You can also load the Travelcard onto the Oyster card, apparently, but NOT if it is a Visitor Oyster card.

No, it doesn’t have a picture of seafood on it.

No, it doesn’t have a picture of seafood on it.

 Image:  Frank Murmann / Wikimedia Commons

Here is the Transport for London website for more information.

UPDATE:  According to this Buzzfeed article, TfL is moving to contactless debit/credit card usage on the transport system.  You should still be able to get/use Oyster for a while, anyway.  Keep an eye on the TfL website.

London is a massive city and people are in a hurry.  The main things to remember on the tube are (1) have your Oyster card or ticket ready at the barrier (so you don’t create a traffic jam), and (2) keep right on escalators, stairs, etc.

The tube has been in use (though obviously updated) for over 100 years (1863), so there are stations without lifts (elevators), and THERE IS NO AIR CONDITIONING.  Delays are common.  Twice when I was there before, they closed the line for something.  Once was a train problem and once was a suicide on the track, and I had to find another train or a cab.

Try to plan ahead when you take the tube and avoid peak times (rush hour):  6:00—10:00 am and 4:00—7:00 pm.  This is a good post about etiquette on the tube.

And this post!  :)

London A-Z

Image:  amazon.com

Buy one of these!! You should be able to get it at the airport or at any newsstand (newsagent).  British people don’t say Z—they say Zed (rhymes with bed).  So ask for a London A-Zed.

I hung onto mine for years, and I finally threw it away because it was so outdated (and I didn’t think I’d ever go back, waah).  London is very walkable, but you’ll need good shoes and make sure they are rainproof.  Because it will rain.

 London Cabs


Image:  Unisouth / Wikipedia.com / CC-BY-SA-3.0

Drivers of the iconic black taxis have to pass an insanely difficult test called The Knowledge before they can drive the cabs.  They know where stuff is and will not jack you around on the fare.  Find out how to take a London cab here.

DO NOT TAKE UNLICENCED MINICABS.  In my research, I’ve been warned that women especially have been assaulted by drivers.  In any case, they don’t have The Knowledge.  Legit minicabs must be booked in advance.  Some people are upset that they are taking business away from the black cabs; how you feel about that is up to you.

WARNING:  remember that people drive on the LEFT in England.  If you value your life, look right when you cross the street, and ONLY cross at the zebras!

Read the road.  Tells you what to do.

Read the road. Tells you what to do.

Image:  Benjamin D. Esham / Wikipedia.com /


English people are reserved, though they are usually quite nice when you do speak with them.  They LOVE it when people are very polite.  Their sense of humor ranges from extremely sarcastic to gross / borderline offensive to incredibly silly.  You’ll always find a few rude jerks anywhere you go, but overall, they are really lovely people.

Keep your volume low.  The British don’t bellow like we Americans do.  On the tube, please refrain from chatting up everyone you see.  If someone is reading or wearing headphones, leave them alone!

They don’t smile at everybody they see either (this is a knee-jerk reaction where I live).  Just act like you’re in New York and you’ll be fine.  This link is for kids, but it’s awesome and if anyone is confused about anything, it explains it very well.

Food and stuff to do

I’ve skipped the obvious tourist stops, which I’m sure you’ve already googled.  The only thing I did last time that I might do again is Madame Tussauds Wax Museum.  The original is in London and it was totally worth it for the Chamber of Horrors alone.  Don’t be put off by the insane website.

I found a terrific Trip Advisor thread for those of us without a trust fund.  I googled links or names of places I found interesting to see if they were still open.  You can sort it by newest or oldest posts first.

Though it’s a bit old, this is a good post also (scroll down to #8, by caffn8me):    This person gave a lot of good advice, including stuff to avoid.

For tea and fancies, visit Fortnum and Mason.

Harrods has a dress code.  I’ve heard people have been turned away for wearing too-casual clothing, including celebrities.  For Harrods FAQs, visit this link.

I highly recommend you see Hampton Court Palace.  It’s Henry VIII’s house (Tudors!)  Seriously, this place is AMAZING.

My mother said I HAVE to go to this place.  The bakery here has been going since Tudor times (wonder if Henry VIII had any of their little treats?)

Or perhaps he had too many of them.

Or perhaps he had too many of them.

Image:  Wikimedia Commons

I hope that gets you started, or at least dreaming of the ultimate British holiday.  If you spot any mistakes, or if you have any recommendations about fun things to see and / or do, please share in the comments.

See you soon!

See you soon!

Image:  bbc.co.uk


Related links:

Transport for London


National Rail website


Here’s a cool blog about London with lots of info.


Visit Britain!


Find out what to wear around the world, based on the weather!  http://www.clothesforecast.com/index.php

London events you can attend for free!


If you decide to nip on over to Cardiff, it’s only 2-1/2 hours by train.


Net Neutrality Takes a Hit

Well, shit.

The FCC voted 3-2 today to let Big Bidness make deals with websites for faster internet.  That’s basically going to kill net neutrality (see more about that at the link).

Read this article at the Washington Post for shenanigans.  I don’t believe Wheeler for one second that this won’t become the slipperiest slope of all slopes ever.  We’re already paying way too much for internet in the U.S.  This only reinforces my opinion that we’ve become an oligarchy already and the corporate assholes are running the country.

I kinda want to leave. But where to go?

I kinda want to leave. But where to go?

Image: Ktrinko / Wikimedia Commons

Write your Congress critter and contact the FCC here to protest.

Update:  Here is a comment email you can use to send a comment.   openinternet@fcc.gov 

The Light at the End of the Tunnel


I just turned in my research slide assignment.  I only have to comment on other people’s slides (apparently, that’s our final) and take a test and then I AM DONE with the World’s Worst Semester.



Image:  samarttiw / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

There will be time off.  I must begin The Great Purge, in which I divest my dwelling place, nicknamed The Crumbling Albatross, of an excess of crap that has piled up over time.  I have also decided, when I’m ready to begin the next book, to do a mini-NaNoWriMo.  There is a little bit of organization to do first, because I haven’t looked at it in ages.

Someone in a forum, in response to a mini-rant about crap, said my world is about to get bigger in a bit.  Let’s hope so—I placed a pretty tall order to the Universe.  It can wait just a little, like my Eddie Bauer raincoat I won’t get until July, but not much longer.  For a change, I’d rather not see this:

 “Universe here.  Your order has been canceled.  We shipped it to someone else.” 

W-what?  Noooooo!

W-what?  Noooooo!

Image:  David Castillo Dominici / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

 When it could just do this:

“Universe here.  Your requested item is no longer on backorder and has been shipped to you.  Enjoy!  :D” 

Much better.

In the interim, I’ll occupy myself with taking numerous Buzzfeed quizzes (I got Captain Kirk, people!) and planning what to do on my vacation.  I’ve already bookmarked so many things that I’ll need another month to do them all.

Fine by me. Not gonna want to leave.

Image:  David Dixon / Wikipedia.com


Character: T is for Talking

atoz [2014] - BANNER - 910

T is for Talking.

A character’s dialogue says a lot about him.  It’s a great way to use exposition without wasting a lot of time talking about the character’s past, doing flashbacks, etc.  In just a few sentences, he can tell you where he’s from and what is most important to him.

I don’t need to hear you talk.  Even completely pissed, I can guess your entire past simply by smelling your coat sleeve.  

I don’t need to hear you talk.  Even completely pissed, I can guess your entire past simply by smelling your coat sleeve.

Image:  BBC/beatrixblog.wordpress.com

In Tunerville, there’s a marked difference between the way Chris (the protagonist) and Callahan (spirit of the Realm) talk.  When Chris tries to tell people not to use the tuners, he uses very plain language—he just tells them to stop.  When Callahan appears, he says, “Cease use of this instrument or there will be dire consequences.”  When the two of them are talking without any tags, you can tell it’s two different people.

When I write a character’s dialogue, I think about who he is and where he’s from, and that influences my word choices.  An educated character who lives in an affluent suburb won’t talk the same as someone from the sticks.

Accents are a bit different.  You can’t really hear an accent when you read (not literally), so you’ll have to imply it so readers can hear it in their heads.  If I make him say he’s put his wellies in the boot of the car and dammit, where did he leave his biro, because he’s got to make a list for the grocer’s whilst Emma is having a bath, then you might surmise he’s from England.  You would be right.  Can you hear it?

I’m not even going to try and reproduce any other UK accent here; there are quite a few.  If you want to hear 14 accents in 84 seconds, watch this video.  It’s the coolest thing ever.

All this applies to dialect as well, which can be written phonetically to a degree, but you can’t go overboard with it.  Avoid what Margaret Mitchell does in Gone with the Wind:

             “…Now, did you hear us say anything that might have made Miss Scarlett mad– or hurt her feelings?”

Thus appealed to, Jeems gave up further pretense of not having overheard the conversation and furrowed his black brow.

“Nawsuh, Ah din’ notice y’all say anything ter mek her mad. Look ter me lak she sho glad ter see you an’ sho had missed you, an’ she cheep along happy as a bird, tell ’bout de time y’all got ter talkin’ ’bout Mist’ Ashley an’ Miss Melly Hamilton gittin’ mah’ied. Den she quiet down lak a bird w’en de hawk fly ober.”

You can’t argue that it’s Southern speak, either, because only the black characters talk like that.  Not only do many people think that’s pretty racist, it’s nearly impossible to read.  Dialect works best when you suggest it.

Be careful not to use what many writers call Hollywood dialogue, where the character tells another person stuff they both already know.  It’s clumsy.  Poor writers often use it for exposition.

“As you’re aware, Robin,” said Batman, “the Joker has been a nemesis of mine for many years now.”  

“Batman facepalm”  is apparently a thing.  A thing you can google.

“Batman facepalm”  is apparently a thing.  A thing you can google.

Image: comicvine.com

Probably the best thing you can do for good dialogue and characterization is go sit somewhere and listen to people talk.  See if you can guess two things about them just by listening to their conversation.  Try it; you might even hear something that will inspire you.

Character: L is for Looks

atoz [2014] - BANNER - 910

Today is April 14, the 102nd anniversary of the sinking of Titanic.  (I know; technically, it sank on April 15, but hitting the iceberg started the whole thing.)  I don’t have a commemorative post this year, but you can refer to this post if you want to do something in memoriam.  I will most likely watch the film tonight.

Titanic at the docks of Southampton

Image:  Wikimedia Commons

L is for Looks.

You might not think looks are important.  We shouldn’t judge a book by its cover, we’re told.  But in truth, the first thing people notice about other people is how they look.

After all, we are mostly visual creatures.  Our brains process a huge amount of information from our eyes, which are our primary sensory organs.

If you’re writing a character who is handsome, he will be treated differently by other people than if he were ugly.  I had to think about this for Rose’s Hostage.  I made bank robber Joshua Rose handsome because 1) it disarms Libby, his hostage, and 2) it bothers the serial killer (once they find out who he is).  If I wrote him as ugly, it would have been a completely different book.

In addition to that, it complicates things.  Joshua even says it himself:

“You are hot.”  She blushed as she said it, and warmth spread through him.

“Thanks, beauty.  I’m glad you think so.”  He was teasing and she got it, grinning at him.  “But people look at me the same way they would if I were deformed.”  He saw her mouth open in protest and continued, talking over her objection.  “See, they’re responding to something unusual about the way I look.  I’m not above using it to get my way.  In my line of work, it’s dangerous because people remember my face, especially women.  Makes it hard to hide.”

Think about all the ways we judge by looks.  Good-looking people are often treated as if they are better than they are and may become spoiled as a result.  Some of them hate it; they feel their skills and ability aren’t taken seriously because of their looks.  Average-looking people may resent the beautiful ones, especially if they think the person is coasting on his or her physical attributes.  And they may be jealous.

Could that be why certain members of Scotland Yard don’t like him? 

Could that be why certain members of Scotland Yard don’t like him?

Image:  benedictcumberbatch.co.uk

This is definitely true for women.  We seem to take the brunt of this stereotype—if a woman is beautiful, she doesn’t need or can’t possibly have any brains.  Of course, that isn’t true, but your character could fall prey to the same notion.  A female character might have to work harder to prove herself than a male one in certain professional situations.  Your male character’s kryptonite could be his outdated attitude toward the gorgeous colleague who saves his bacon (or the sexy villain he thinks he can outsmart).

There’s also the danger of making a character good-looking for the sake of it, as with a Mary Sue or Gary Stu.  Let’s face it; the vast majority of people don’t measure up to Hollywood standards.  Most of us are average.  A protagonist who is too good to be true loses something important for readers—they won’t relate to him/her.

Mary sue

Image:  webpages.shepherd.edu

Let’s talk now about unattractive characters.  Unattractive girls are called dogs, or worse.  It’s a tired old trope that the guy will always go for the hot girl, and if you have an ugly duckling character, she better transform herself before he takes her to the prom, because if not, that would be social suicide.

Guys suffer just as much, especially during adolescence.  In our society, it’s on them to initiate most romantic encounters.  How hard is that, even for a good-looking guy?  Imagine your character trying to do it when he looks in the mirror and hates what he sees.

If the person has a deformity, or perceives himself to have one (like Francis Dolarhyde in Red Dragon), then that will change how he reacts to other people.  We telegraph our inner thoughts about ourselves in subtle ways, and they treat us accordingly.

Think about how that happens.  How can you show that a character has these thoughts, especially if you don’t get inside his head?

  •  Dialogue:  You could have the character use straightforward, self-deprecating language, such as “Oh, nobody will go out with a lard-ass like me.”
  •  Mannerisms (next post!):  Confident people move with authority, carry their heads high and shoulders back, and look people straight in the eye.  Your self-hating character may shuffle, avoid eye contact, and have poor posture, as though he is trying to hide.
  •  Reactions of other characters:  Think about someone you know who has a poor opinion of himself.  How do you feel when you’re around that person?  Do you get irritated with him when he makes remarks like the one above?  Do you feel pity for him and overcompensate to help him out?
Nobody feel sorry for Hulk.  Hulk smash!

Nobody feel sorry for Hulk.  Hulk smash!

Image:  comicbook.com

If you’re tempted to make your character resemble your dream man or woman, take time to consider why.  Try to brainstorm—would it make your story more interesting if the character were average, or even unattractive?