Tuesday, May 5, 2015

Creating Flawed Characters for Novels

Lately I have been studying the interesting problem of what makes for the most fascinating characters in novels. It’s not the goody-goody type we root for, but the ones that have to overcome some personal defect that makes them enduring and lovable in the end when they too see their shortcomings and make amends. If you tie this to your book’s external goal, then your book flows easily from scene to scene. Or at least that’s what I have gleamed from my research. So in preparation for writing a new fantasy novel tentatively titled, THE VALE, I have been thinking about my new character studies and what flaw to have them overcome (or not!) in the course of the book. So, in preparation I have compiled a possible list of glaring character flaws in classical books that maybe the right choice to give my novel huge stakes:

(1) Frankenstein: Victor is excessively curious which leads to his downfall.

(2) Harry Potter series: Harry has anger issues and is occasionally arrogant.

(3) Little Women: Jo March’s bluntness and hot temper causes all sorts of conflict.

(4) Macbeth: hubris and then paranoia.

(5) Cyrano De Bergerac: suffers self-doubt.

(6) Hamlet: indecisive and self-doubting.

(7) Percy Jackson and the Olympians: excessive personal loyalty.

(8) The Iliad: Agamemnon is excessively greedy.

(9) Harry Potter series: Tom Riddle has a fear of dying.

(10) The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy: extreme depression and boredom.

Well, you get the idea. Now, I need to link one of these traits to the external journey of my character to give the reader a satisfying ending, especially if the character recognizes their faults and makes a valiant effort to overcome their inner faults and win the day. Because THE VALE will feature a female lead and heroine, I’m going with a need for Meadow to grow up and accept responsibility (also why she self-doubts that she can do what she’s being pushed to do) and will tie it to a journey of learning to self-sacrifice for the good of her people and herself when she goes on a hero’s quest. She’ll also need to learn to accept the help of others as she’s a bit arrogant. She’s also lovable! Don’t worry; her immaturity makes her fun-loving too. The journey feels like a good one to make for me so I think I will be easier to put out the monumental effort required to make her journey a good one!

What are your favorite character traits (good and bad) to work with?

Best, January Bain

The Forever Series

Champagne Books



January Bain said...

Where is everyone today? Guess I'm going to have to choose a more interesting topic, like the ins and outs of writing erotica, maybe?! Wishing everyone a good day. Hugs, January AKA Angelina

Julie Eberhart Painter said...

I was on the phone!

You are right a perfect character is boring and has no story. One of my favorite negative traits is my nexts anti hero who, along with insufferable hubris, needs to be loved, and also sees no error in his behavior, despite the illegal nature of it.