Thursday, January 24, 2013

Flawed Characters

I've always been aware that flawed characters are important for stories.  However, it's hard for me to really name books that have truly flawed characters.  Usually they're shown as perfect specimens and the main obstacle is usually an external force, a misunderstanding, a killer that needs caught...the obstacle rarely seems to be caused by the hero(ines) flaws, not caring, arrogance, self-esteem issues, etc. at least not in the books I typically read, which is fine so long as the book entertains me.

I truly believe the story I'm writing is interesting, but I'm not convinced I've written my characters so they have flaws. After reading a book where the main character does have obvious flaws, I've tried focusing on giving my characters more of a flaw without adding unnecessary bulk to the story.  I didn't want my characters in a fight, near death or anything like that simply to display that they have faults.  I want their faults to add to the story in a meaningful way.

But what constitutes a true flaw? I've been reading articles and read several definitions.  The most common ones seem to be that the "flaw" cannot be turned into a positive. So a character cannot be, say, a busybody and that trait allows the character to solve the murder, the mystery and all the mis-communication that happened throughout the book. Probably not the best example, but you get the idea.

So, what can I do?  The story is written.   All I need is to edit things.

I have a few ideas on what I could do and if they work out, the book would feel like its come full circle, provide room for some more hints and red herrings and lengthen the novel in a good way. If it goes completely wrong, well I'd still have my old draft to fall back on, right?

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