Tuesday, September 7, 2010

How Awesome is TOO Awesome?

When creating our characters, we can fall in love to the point of making them perfect. Flawless. We love each and every character, even the antagonist (sometimes, especially the antagonist because they are so FUN to write).

But we want believable main characters - characters our readers can connect with and identify with. To make them believable, we have to make them human. And humans have flaws. This doesn't mean giving them facial scars or big, hairy moles jutting out of their chin. They don't need a traumatic childhood or a heavy drug addiction they just can't kick. They can be simpler flaws.

Each of us has a flaw or two - some of us have no patience, some of us are extremely judgemental, some of us are selfish with our time or money. We hold onto slights. We hurl insults. We don't play well with others. We're all human. Our characters need to be as well.

Did you know that being stubborn is a flaw? It's one of my greatest flaws personally. Eva may have a small streak of it. What she has a huge heaping of, though, is the inability to accept help or even ask for it. She's independent. To a fault. We need to know when to ask for help. We aren't superhuman. Neither is she. But she thinks that she should be beyond needing help. It makes her feel weak to ask for it, to accept it. She'll make things much, much worse with this flaw of hers.

Each of my other characters have flaws as well. Eva's Farathir (this means protector in elvish) is protective to a fault. He's old fashioned and wants to do everything for her. You can imagine how this drives our little miss indepedent up the proverbial wall. She doesn't make things easy on him in the least. He doesn't exactly make things easy on himself either. Things don't come out the way he means them to and she's quick to take offense. The two of them are like oil and water at times. Like moth and flame. Like Farathir and Ethavyn (the healer). It's a struggle - both internally and externally for these two. It's part of what makes them so much fun to write!

My antagonist - well, it's always easy to make evil a fault, isn't it? But she needs more than that. The inability to let go of the past. I know many people who can't move on in their lives and this certainly applies to my antagonist. We can sympathize with her because she's lost a great love. The love of her life. Her soulmate. A crushing blow. We'll overlook the fact that he was trying to wipe out an entire race of people for the moment. What matters is that her loss, her love, makes her human. We can sympathize with her. Some readers might actually want her to succeed.

Creating flaws in our characters can be FUN! It can also help our writing along. Conflict is a driving force in our writing. Giving people flaws that work against each other can create that naturally.

This diamond set is flawed. It's still incredibly beautiful, though. Our characters can still be beautiful inspite of (or maybe even because of) their flaws.

What flaws do your characters have? Or are they too awesome?


  1. You're right. I think that the simpler flaws are better or else you start stepping into cliche territory. I like books that give the character a flaw and then slowly open up to why they have that certain trait. Great post.


  2. So right! It really is hard to make your characters flawed. Its easier and, almost like, a show of love to keep them perfect. But, I donno about anyone else, I'd be down right bored with reading about miss-perfect-sunshiney-do-no-wrong.

  3. Your book has elves? So cool!

    I can't ever write perfect characters. My MC, Ronni, is flawed all the way..I can't even begin (she drinks, she smokes, does crazy things and doesn't give a damn to what people think)..but man, do I love her!
    And, for some reason, I can't read perfect characters either, because in truth, no one's ever perfect. It's just a facade.

  4. OOOO, Elves! I'm so interested!

    My characters are flawed. Incredibly so. All of them. Honestly, I think they have more flaws than good qualities some times. (That probably isn`t true, it just feels that way.)

    Flawed characters are so much more fun to write and they also make it easier to create natural conflict in the story.

    Great post, hun!

  5. First I would like to thank you for your super sweet comment on my blog haha.

    I love how you used diamonds to symbolize flaws. What a great idea!!!!

    It is really important to have readers connect with characters. Great post!!!!!!

  6. Loved this!!! I have to say that my characters are always flawed, why keep them perfect? They aren't any fun that way!!! Flaws is what makes the person relateable, we all have them and when you read a main character you want to feel like you can relate, and then surprise them with an ending, giving the reader and the MC hope that in the end it all works out!!!

    Imperfect is the best way to be :)

  7. I love using flaws that are the flip side of a character's strengths. Like you say, too stubborn, even if being stubborn may be her greatest gift and what gets her through. :)

  8. Great post! Flaws are what make our characters three-dimensional and human, and also unpredictable, which always makes for a better story.

  9. hmm, interesting. Perhaps when we write characters we do tend to think stereotypically. a bit like when you improvise acting wise a particular character...you tend to pick out a stereotype and exaggerate that. especially with the hero or the antagonist. Something like stubbornness (my own flaw too!) can be subtle but gives a sense of humanity rather than just a 2D picture. i think watching other people, their responses and figuring out what makes them tick, can help. (or maybe i'm just nosy!)

    Oh and thanks for signposting me to the Septimus Heap series....how have I never seen these before...and please tell me the books have maps in them. I love books with maps! Will definitely have to start reading the series!

  10. Okay, first of all, I AM PERFECT!!! Hahahahahaha, *wiping tears away* You believe that, right? *snort* You bring up some very good points and I loved your examples. Which bring me to this: elvish? Are you close to finished? Are you close to being published? Sounds like a good read!

  11. Hi, Jen! I'm glad we caught each other on Blogspot~

    And, oh yesss, you know me: The Anti Mary-Sue and Gary-Stu Hate Machine. It's good to see others pay attention to their characters. Sorry Twilight fans, but I don't want to see any more Bella Swans running around. *gag* This post totally speaks to me on soooo many levels.

    Almost like OCD, or something, I build my characters up, then break them down, and the cycles starts over and over again. It will be the end of me, but I can't finish a story if the characters' traits aren't solid to me, you know?

    Often the smallest imperfection can add to the charm of a story or character. The little things that make a character tick, and whatnot. It's what makes writing characters so fun... They're so malleable and real to us and the readers. <3

    Keep writing! :D