Wanted: Flaws

I went for my typical 5am run today.  Don’t be jealous.  You may join me if you’d like.

As usual, I wanted to sleep in, but since I love cheese and wine and chocolaty stuff, I must exercise to refrain from turning into a weeble-wooble.

As usual, I nearly face-planted due to cracks in the land beneath my feet.  Fortunately, only a handful of onlookers snickered at my attempt to recover.  (You know- you give that ol’ look of surprise over your shoulder as if the sidewalk shifted seconds before you arrived, just to f*ck with you.)

As usual, I had to stop and dislodge a rock that became stuck in the tread of my runners, which made a scraping sound against the concrete as my feet splashed through the run-off from sprinkler systems.

And as usual, creative urges percolated within as I finally sank into the rhythm of my run and forgot about all the usual clumsy stuff that I manage to do.

That is the real reason I run, by the way.  Not the tripping and face-planting stuff, mind you.  The boost in my creativity level.  It’s like leveling up in Skyrim or Minecraft or whichever game you play (because that’s how I have to explain it to my son).  I certainly don’t run to have a smokin’ body, complete with tiny legs and nonexistent size 1 backside.  I mean, I try, but it just doesn’t happen for me.  I’m 5’2″ and pretty muscular.  You know those awesome Nike ads for “thunder thighs” and “big butt”?  I’m close to that.  Fit, but sturdy.  Let’s just say that no man will ever be afraid of breaking me as we… um, wrestle.

At any rate, during my run this morning I had an incredible breakthrough for the ending of my story.  I think events that occurred in my life yesterday influenced the changes in my book, but the ideas didn’t spill out until I had my “zen” moment as I ran.  Empty your head of what you don’t need and new ideas can flow in, right?

I showered the sweat off my body, brewed my cinnamon French toast coffee (mark-down item!), and sat down to an awesome writing session.

Or, rather, what I thought was going to be an awesome writing session.  I stared at my computer screen for fifteen minutes this morning and typed not one word.

Forgive me.  I did type one word: Flaws.

It suddenly hit me that it didn’t matter what the ending of the story was like because no one was going to get that far in the book.  My protagonist isn’t flawed enough to be interesting.  Yes, “flaws” are a matter of opinion.  Some people might consider my round backside a flaw, while others see it as an asset.  Sir Mix-A-Lot would like it very much.  

thank you, mtv

No matter.  My main character must have quirks and weaknesses.  

Readers can’t identify with a near-perfect character.  She must have flaws so that we can nod our heads in understanding as she thinks or says or does the same stupid crap we do.  We want to scoff, shake our heads “no” and momentarily put the book down in exasperation when she does something that we already know- due to our own experiences- will have unfortunate consequences.  When she’s slowly undressing for a man and unbuttons her gauzy shirt to reveal a backwards-facing camisole, we can laugh because we have done the same thing.  (Yes, I discovered five minutes ago that I put my camisole on backwards.  Don’t ask me how.)  We follow her and, ultimately, become her.  We want to know how she reacts in situations so that we know what might happen should we react in the same fashion.

My dear girl needs a grand character arc.  She needs to have flaws she can work to overcome so that we can figure out how to work through our issues.  What works for her could also work for us, right?  I know that after reading a book with a strong, confident heroine, I find my chin tilted slightly higher than usual.  I exhibit a tad more defiance and I walk with calculated steps.  I become her, if only for a short while.  Therefore, I need to take more care in the development of this particular character.

I’m sensing another character interview in the near future…

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4 thoughts on “Wanted: Flaws

  1. I think this is what one my characters has been missing too . . . she has her flaws, but I think she overcomes them too easily at times. I need more flawed struggle. Thanks!

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