So just to clarify, you’re not going crazy and I did switch days with Jenny! She was gracious enough to swap with me because my Thursdays are much busier than my Fridays. I wish I could blame this swap for my silliness, though – last week, I totally did the wrong theme! Clearly, I need to get myself together.
For my craft post, I want to talk a little about character flaws. This is a definite running theme for me, as I talked a lot about it in my list of favorite characters. I believe that the best thing a writer can do for their characters is find ways to make them utterly human, which means giving them realistic flaws.
Nothing turns me off more than reading about a character who doesn’t feel like she fits in because she just doesn’t think like everyone else. You’ve all seen these sorts of “outcast” characters: uniquely-but-not-classically beautiful with witty sarcasm and moody worldviews. Think Bella Swan. Those aren’t the sort of flaws I’m talking about, though. I want characters who have flaws that define them, that require others to either accept them or move on. I don’t necessarily want my characters to ‘get better’ over the course of the story.
Let’s talk The Great Gatsby once more (gasp, shock, awe Kristy is talking about Fitzgerald). Every character in the novel has some significant, fatal flaw. Almost every one of them is a terrible, horrible person because of their flaw. Most of the flaws are really obvious, such as Myrtle’s lustiness and greed and Tom’s racism and aggressiveness. Jordan is a liar and Wilson is oblivious. Then, of course, there are Daisy’s materialism and Gatsby’s obsessive idealism. And then, more subtly, you’ve got Nick’s unwillingness to actually do anything to really stop any of the events from unfolding. He’s a passive observer to the affairs, the abuse, the after-effects of the car accident – to everything, and he doesn’t stop it.
Personally, I find the most beautiful part of the novel is that none of the characters really change by the end of the story. Everyone just moves on with their lives.
Creating realistic flaws seems like it should be easy, right? We’re all flawed in some way, so we all have firsthand experience with it. It’s a little more complicated than it would seem, though! For example, my main character starts off as a very reluctant hero. Clearly, she must overcome this as the story progresses, however, so I’ve been working through ways of incorporating something more permanent into her character. Realism is already a bit difficult in my severely post-apocalyptic setting, so I want my characters to be as realistic as possible. She needs something that is relatable, but not necessarily so sympathetic. I want her to be likeable, of course, but there needs to be some sort of self-perpetuated obstacle that she can’t ever entirely overcome. Long story short, this is just one of the questions I’ve been working through in this planning process!
Kristy’s Mysterious Giveaway Winners!
The winner of Mysterious Prize #1, which will consist of a copy of The English Patient by Michael Ondaatje and a surprise random second thing, is Kerrin Treas!
The winner of Mysterious Prize #2, which will consist of a copy of American Psycho by Bret Easton Ellis and a surprise random second thing, is Coryl O’Reilly!
Congratulations, you two! Stick your mailing address in an email to email@example.com as soon as possible and your prizes will be on their way! Thanks to everyone who entered!