Everyone, meet my moccasin boots. These are my favorite shoes of all time. No, they may not be entirely glamorous, but they are comfortable, look great with jeans, and (to me) they are a timeless classic.
And the store they came from has a majorly politically incorrect name.
The Indian Store. I know, I know. It should be…The Native American Store. Right? That’s more politically correct, right?
Well, that just isn’t its name. But, I have to tell you this is my favorite store to buy these boots. This little flaw doesn't stop me from loving these shoes...
Why does this matter? Well, I’m trying to develop a character and I am having the hardest time developing her negative points. I have no idea why. It is extremely important to have a likeable main character, but what’s likeable about a character that says the right things at the right time in the right way? Who always has an opinion that’s acceptable by the masses? Who uses all the right politically correct words? No one likes that person, no matter how “nice” they are.
And why am I having so much trouble? You see, this plot line is shaped by the fact that she goes into a certain situation naive, and a little too trusting (I know, it doesn’t sound fascinating…yet…but it’s barely started and I don’t want to give anything away…so just go with it for now…) So I get an image in my head of this character having very few, not-so-obvious “character flaws.” But, that’s not quite honest, though, is it? I mean, I’m a nice person and I never want to hurt someone intentionally (and if I do, I want to know!). I’m also very genuine, and not phony at all. Like everyone else, though, I’m not perfect. I can also be very competitive (and if you are competitive, or know someone that is…that doesn’t always come out in the “nicest” way) and highly opinionated once you get me going on a certain topic (foot-in-mouth disease, anyone?).
I do know that our character flaws shape us as much as the other parts of who we are. No, we don’t like those negative parts coming out front and center when we first meet someone. And like any character you meet for the first time in a book, most of us don’t like to following along with a main character that’s unkind, mean, and completely unlikeable. But wouldn’t you get tired of a character that’s too a little too nice?
I mean…didn’t we all enjoy reading about Becky Sharp and her quick tongue and “I-don’t-care-what-people-think” attitude in Vanity Fair?
How about Anne from Anne of Green Gables and her gutsy, outgoing, and self-assured personality that you can’t help but adore?
But then again, not all characters have to be like this…just like not all real people are like these two characters. One of my other favorite female characters, Rebecca, from the book, Rebecca by Daphne du Maurier, resembles my own character’s personality the most. In the book, she is courted by Maxim de Winter (a very well off, recent widower) and almost overnight, becomes his new wife. Throughout the book she is compared to the former Mrs. de Winter and deals with her own self-doubt and insecurity, while also struggling with the curiosity of what really happened to her husband’s former wife.
Rebecca does not resemble Becky or Anne in the slightest, but all three of these characters reveal their own “character” flaws in the book. Not one of these characters were liked by everyone that was around them in the story.
So, how about my character? Something about her is imperfect. Something that rounds her out to being a real person instead of a robot, clone of a human being.
Because sometimes our characters (and us too) can be a bad friend…
Or be pushed too far…
Or talk down to someone (and/or) have a wicked tongue….
Or just be downright scary…
Most importantly, though, I’m inspired because I finally feel like I am getting a handle on a new story. A new idea. I’ll figure out. I know I will.
So, readers, how about you? How do you figure out your “character” flaws?