Over on my Facebook page, my friends Qristina Cummings and Judy Goodman initiated an interesting conversation from the prompt of my posting an article on writing by Kurt Vonnegut from the Brain Pickings blog.
I thought I’d excerpt that conversation today to maybe gin up some juice for all our writing. I’m working on a character so flawed that she is a trial but also a joy to write; she is an amnesiac stroke victim who wandered out of a hospital and is now living in the streets in a tight little neighborhood business district in Chicago’s Northwest Side. So as I write she and we are sorting out what is her real personality and what is imposed on her by the effects of stroke. I won’t ruin the surprise, but she herself is amazed by what she discovers about her past self and her chances now to leave that life behind.
But Judy and Qristina have some intersting concerns and observations about writing characters who are flawed enough to be interesting. Herewith:
*Beginning of Facebook conversation*
Glenda Bailey-Mershon pinned to a board on Pinterest (which transferred to my Facebook page.)
December 25 at 4:57am · Pinterest ·
How to Write with Style: Kurt Vonnegut’s 8 Keys to the Power of the Written Word
Judy Goodman Hardest task: NOT to make perfect characters — even though it’s obvious that nonperfect characters seem to deserve to succeed more than the perfect ones.
Glenda Bailey-Mershon Well, everyone has to have some room for improvement. Who wants to read about perfect people, anyway. I love giving them flaws that are fixable–and then making sure they don’t fix them all.
Judy Goodman I’m noticing as I write this recent one that the main characters really do have flaws, but they still seem perfect to me. Maybe, I’m just too accepting. [Of course, maybe I’m just not willing to admit my own quirks are flaws! *)]
Qristina Zavačková Cummings It’s hard when writing about real people you looked up to and respected. My grandmother was perfect. Except she wasn’t… And it’s hard to keep that balance to keep her “real”.
Judy Goodman They are so often “perfect” to us despite their faults, I am always hesitant to write about family and old friends.
Glenda Bailey-Mershon To me, the small imperfections are what make people perfect–what gives them their flavor and vigor, their uniqueness.
Glenda Bailey-Mershon Would you two mind if I excerpted this conversation to my blog so that others can join in?
*End Facebook conversation*
I was interested to find this list of TV tropes concerning character flaws. We’ll all recognize them because we’ve been watching them most, if not all, our lives.
What if you put the Crazy Cat Lady Together with the Crime Magnet?
What are the flaws in your character–the ones on the page, that is? Have you put them in situations that will force them to deal with their flaws?
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