Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Character Lust

First I want to go on record as saying that I really did plan this post out on Monday. Before Kiersten White's wonderful post on Characterization yesterday. So, this will be nothing as Earth shattering, but hopefully a little insight for you from my view. :0)

Yes, I used the naughty word....not the L-O-V-E word. :0) Because if you heart your character too much, she's not going to change a whole lot. Lust is where you think your character is made of perfection, ready to entice any reader. That's great for your first draft. But now that it's time to revise...what about your character's flaws? More important than even their favorite color or type of music...what makes your character NOT perfect? What irritates them?

Flaws are important. And not just the big, main flaw. Little things. Biting fingernails, too loud laughter, crooked tooth, lazy eye, short tempered, impatient, clumsy....the list goes on and on. But again, don't get into listing mode in your manuscript. Show these things slowly, weave them in cleverly throughout the story in more than just dialogue. And you can't necessarily pick at random, you have to really think about what flaws would be empathized with, what flaws or pet peeves would add an element to your story, rather than take away from it?

We want memorable characters. Take a moment to remember a character in your life. Who pops out? What were their flaws that bugged you, but you still loved them? What about friends. Do you know a couple and wonder how in the world they get along? Memorable.

So, any other questions about characterization? Something you haven't already read? I don't want to beat a dead horse, so we'll see how the discussion goes before I post anything else on that subject. :0)


  1. Kristi, You can't tell me too much. I could read you all day long and I'm only trying to understand the process! You are a wealth of information and for me it's all fascinating because it helps me to understand what so many of you writers have to go through.

  2. Anne Shirley from Anne of Green Gables is one of the most memorable characters for me. She's fun & full of imagination. She is kind and generous. She speaks before she thinks ALL the time. She makes hasty decisions she instantly regrets, but is too stubborn to back down. She's wonderful & a great example of a flawed character I love.

  3. A character that is authentic. Not a hero. Just someone struggling and dealing and maybe only clinging on to their dreams. Those are the ones I want to follow. And like Jemi, love, love, love Anne of GG.

  4. Reading about unflawed characters is dead boring, don't you think? Knowing that a character is shy, clumsy and judgmental ups the tension--every time she walks on the scene you wonder, will things go as she hoped? How will she screw up this time?

  5. Oh PJ! You are so kind and wonderful. What would I do without your encouragement?!

    Jemi; I have to agree. I think I read that series three or four times.

    Jdcoughlin: Definitely! Even heroes cry. Thanks for joining the cool kids! I look forward to hearing more from you. :0)

    Laurel: Yes-I agree that not only is it dull, it's hard to relate to someone that is totally perfect!

  6. I'm working on the flaw thing in my rewrites. I can't believe what a better story it has become.

  7. Flaws are good. I like my characters to have flaws and said flaws should be an impediment to their ultimate goal.


Your spotlight on R.A.W. :0) I strive to respond if you have your email address attached!