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Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Character Flaws...

So most of you know my current work in progress is titled Rock Bottom. I don't know that I've ever really talked about the book itself much, but I figure most of you know the basic storyline as a lot of my friends have read at least the first 3 or 4 chapters.

For the few that haven't read it it's about a woman, a sarcastic, quirky woman, named Kate, who's sister, Paige, is an alcoholic. During the beginning of the story the reader will presumably believe it's Paige who is hitting rock bottom because of a drinking and driving accident at the end of the third chapter. However, Kate is like many of us "Christians" who believes she has it all together and she's not nearly the "sinner" her sister is--but throughout the story she realizes her own self-righteous attitude and finally sees the sin in her own life.

I was working this week on making the story even more twisted by giving the hero in the story a very unique flaw. I won't give that away right now so that when my critters read it they can find out for themselves, but anyway, I give him this flaw and wonder, hmmm, is it too much? I read a book this weekend for the ACFW Book of the Year contest and when I found out something the hero had done I was sickened. I couldn't believe the hero had done this and he was still going to be the hero, LOL. So this brings me to my question, how much is too much when it comes to character flaws? I'd be interested in hearing the flaws of your characters and if you struggled with giving them those traits.

2 comments:

Georgiana D said...

That's a great question Sabrina. So far, most of my characters biggest flaws have been self-centeredness. The hero in my first book needed to grow a spine, but only with one person. My most recent heroine needed to quit being so whiny, but that was too much so in the 2nd draft I'm fixing that. I guess the whiny thing was too much!

Timothy Fish said...

I think that some of the best characters are some of the most flawed characters of all. One of the best Christian novels I have read is Not My Will by Francena Arnold. If you have not read the book, the main character has flaws that cause her to go against what God wants. In fact, she is totally against God. How much worse can a person be? But the reader is drawn into the story because of it. It is far different from the perfect Christians that we see in many Christian novels. The thing with character flaws in not so much how bad these flaws can be but how the character handles the situation and how the character is changed by the events.

I really do not like the term character flaws. It implies that we have some idea of what at perfect character looks like and then we make this character interesting by damaging the character with flaws. In Searching for Mom, I have several characters and you see them “warts and all” but I do not look at them as having flaws. Take Sara, for example, she is a tomboy, she does not pay attention in class, she talks back to the teacher, she does not always listen to her father, she is very self-willed, she is tough, she won’t back down from a fight, she is even tempered, she is a good friend, she does not want to disappoint her father. I could go on, but the point is that this is who she is. Which of these things are character flaws? Which are just what you would expect out of a girl in the sixth grade? Many of these things were required to hold the story together. If she had been image of perfection then it is unlikely that she would have ever decided to find a mother. If she had a better relationship with her teacher then there never would have been a need. If she always obeyed then her plan would have failed, she would have never gotten on the train, she would have never made it to Saint Louis.