Saturday, September 28, 2013

Character Flaws

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Okay, let's not bury the lead here -- we're beginning to suspect we must be shallow people. And the title for this post may be a triple-entendre. Let's just see...
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But first, yes, this is the Insecure Writer's Support Group blog hop, hosted by our incomparable Ninja Captain, Alex J. Cavanaugh (thanks, Cap'n!), postings shared on the first Wednesday of every month by a host of conspiratorial scribblers:

"Purpose: To share and encourage. Writers can express doubts and concerns without fear of appearing foolish or weak. Those who have been through the fire can offer assistance and guidance. It’s a safe haven for insecure writers of all kinds!"
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Now, back to the topic at hand -- character flaws.

We're currently reading through the comments and corrections submitted by valiant readers whom we solicited to read the beta draft of the latest in our Silverville Saga series, The Magicke Outhouse, forthcoming next month from our publisher, if all goes well.

Fortunately for us, our beta readers are telling us what we need -- rather than what we want -- to hear. They better have; that's what they're being paid to do. (Okay, not in cash but in gratitude or favors or dinner or their own masochistic self-fulfillment.)

Their comments remind us how we always seem to fall for broken people and broken characters. Ironically, we always begin by trying to tell the story of an admirable protagonist, someone with substance and worth, but we always end by becoming seduced by the ones who need the most help. We can't help it -- their character flaws are more interesting and more fun to write about.

In the first book in the series, Little Greed Men,  Billy Noble, who's anything but, emerges as our protagonist: a con man who fears commitment but becomes trapped into helping a town he doesn't care about. The second book, All Plucked Up, centers on the story of Pleasance Pantiwycke, a deliciously unscrupulous little gal who can't seem to trust the right people. And now the third book is on the verge of deadlines and, yep, we fell in love with April Schauers, an early twentysomething with wild tales and wilder ways who overcompensates because she fears no one will take her seriously otherwise. 

In each of these scenarios, our major characters enter relationships that have the potential to help them overcome their flaws and reach toward a new level of maturity and responsibility. And for every book, our beta readers have urged us to develop these characters in ways that let them grow and overcome their basic (and we think, endearing) natures.

The problem is that we like them the way they are. We don't want them to outgrow their flaws! Maybe it's our own co-writerly character flaw shining through the gauze of fiction. (Remember when we said we thought we may be shallow people?)

We're beginning to suspect we gravitate to writing comedies the way some folks try to laugh off the occasional and inevitable faux pas (or is that just us?) It's a marvelous strategy to keep a little distance even between friends.

Yes, yes, we always take our beta readers' advice and go back and develop their relationships, redeem them, let them outgrow us -- well, just a little. And we'll no doubt do the same for quirky, odd little April & company before the next book hits the streets.

But c'mon -- is it really a character flaw to like flawed characters, or are the characters we write just flawed?

(See, we told you there might be a triple-entendre hiding in there.)