Archive for April, 2015

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Character Flaws

April 22, 2015

CharacterFlawsI am embarking on my first novel. After wading some 5 figures into the word count I am finding that my main character is a goody-two-shoes. She’s much too perfect and overly talented. She’s nice to everyone. Everyone is nice to her. Sure, she had the average teenage “I wanna get outta here!” angst in her background, but on the whole she was raised in a very caring and nurturing home and was gifted with some amazing artistic talents. So why would anyone want to care about someone so perfect?

The fact is, readers don’t. Readers want to sympathize and empathize with the characters in a story in some way, and they don’t sympathize with a perfect shining example of humanity. They want imperfection, defects, faults, and weakness. They want to root for the underdog and cheer when they succeed. And that’s why I will need to give my hero some flaws.

I have already decided that my character’s mother died at an early age, and the story is centered on her father’s premature death (murder, perhaps?). So she is now an orphan. At age 28 but still…

And she will need to have a character arc that jostles and revamps her sets of values. Instead of being a ruthless actress driven to succeed in the brutal and fierce Hollywood setting, she will discover that valuing the family business and carrying on her father’s legacy in a small tourist town is more important.

It’s good to recognize the defects of your story early. Making adjustments and modifications retroactively is much easier at 10,000 words than it is at 100,000. Remember that conflict is the key to telling a story, so be sure to dust your fiction with plenty of it rather than sugar-coat it with perfection.

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