Friday, June 11, 2010

Your Character is a Failure!

Your protagonist has to fail. You need to show that she isn’t perfect. We aren’t perfect, so neither should our characters be. Perfect characters make for uninteresting stories.
When you create your characters create a small place in them where they hide their deepest, darkest secrets, desires and the feelings they don’t want to deal with. Now fill that place with the wickedness of their heart.
We all know about that, so this should be easy. Really it should, but it isn’t as easy as we might think. When creating well rounded characters, the author has to dig deep into themselves. Not always a pretty picture, but it can be a very healing experience.
Now pile on the character’s strongest weakness, until everything starts to shove against her. The she will have three choices. 1) She can choose to give up and fail. 2) She can choose to live up to her own expectations of herself. Or 3) she can answer the call for greatness, and do the right thing.
The stench of the filth of her wretchedness begins to invade her seemingly perfect life. It will upset the apple cart of how she sees herself, and force her to face her true self. This is how the reader knows she is real. Readers can relate to imperfection, and inner struggle. They will root her on and what her to have victory.
Someone shared this example with me: “Consider Woody in Toy Story. He enjoyed being the leader of Andy’s toys. He saw himself as the best until Buzz Lightyear came along. Then layer upon layer is pulled off Woody, until we see him (and he sees himself) for what he truly is. But we still love him. We want him to come out of the hovel of Sid’s room, a better toy, no longer driven by jealousy and pride. The story becomes more than just about two toys finding their way back to their own. The story really becomes one about someone learning to accept who he is and overcome it with greater and stronger character traits.”

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