Friday, February 18, 2011

Flawed Logic

Every character wants something. It's our job as writers, to keep it away from them.

Not forever. If we're good, we string it out over the course of a book or a series, with enough of an interesting journey to keep people reading. We throw obstacles in the way, make them struggle against evil forces, help them grow into the person that can overcome it all to succeed in the end.

But what if their worst enemy, turns out to be themselves?

Say your main character wants to be a fighter pilot. She makes models of planes, reads every book she can get her hands on about fighter jets, joins the air force...but is scared to fly.

What if your character desperately wants friends. She finally finds a group of girls to hang out with, people who seem to really like her, and then she ends up betraying the very person that brought her into the group...

Or maybe your character is a writer. He blogs, he tweets, he's friended every editor on Facebook. But he never has the guts to query a novel. Maybe he never finishes writing one...

What flaws in your character keeps him or her from achieving their goals?

22 comments:

Laura Pauling said...

In my current wip - My character deals with self worth. I love books where the character's worse enemy is their selves. And often as writers - we are our own worst enemy! You're sneaky.

Andrea Mack said...

I think the best books are the ones where the character has to struggle against some flaw or challenge in themselves. That is what is hardest about life, too!

Andrea Mack said...

I think the best books are the ones where the character has to struggle against some flaw or challenge in themselves. That is what is hardest about life, too!

Bish Denham said...

My MC is vain and proud and thinks he can do it all by himself. He has to learn humility.

Angela Felsted said...

Self-sabotage. The ultimate mark of inner-turmoil. I love it!

Hey, just so you know. You won Jane on adopt-a-book Friday. So if you'll send me you're address, I'll send the book out to you on Monday. :)

Stina Lindenblatt said...

In my wip, my mc is trying to get revenge, but she's also doing it for a greater goal. Something that she's feels will benefit others. Too bad her logic's flawed, but talk about character growth.

Kristan said...

Stubbornness and pride, LOL. I go for the classics. Not that I know anything about those two particular flaws myself… ;P

Tess said...

This is so good to think about...man, I want to read those books you outlined! Will you write them?

my mc wants connection and family but has a tendency to push love aside when she sees it (in my WIP). In my LOVE novel, she wants a steady home but ends up turning away from that to follow her daddy (who she decides is more important)

Shannon O'Donnell said...

Great post! My MC has to learn that he can be a good kid and still have tons of fun.

JeannetteLS said...

My mc is fighting her own need to feel she is in control of every teeny corner of her destiny, and cannot face the untidy fact that bad people can have good sides, that her heroes have warts but still can be heroes, and that, at 30 years old, she can still possibly have one single thing left to learn from her flawed, flamboyant mother. Mostly she cannot seem to face that her own flaws are standing as the final thin wall to the happiness that's right there in front of her. Thank you for making me think about this.

Becky Levine said...

I THINK she wants to keep (too much) the thing she's going to have to give up. Now if I can just get that on the page.

lotusgirl said...

Such a great thing to think about. My MC in WIP I is struggling with her identity and the secrets her parents have kept from her. In another wip the MC thinks she wants certain things and goes after them only to discover that they don't hold the fulfillment she thought they would.

Jean Ann Williams said...

Great topic.

My MC wants to belong to a group of girls, and when she's accepted and her best friend is not, the MC leaves her best friend behind.

kathrynjankowski said...

My MC is stubborn and has delusions of grandeur that imperil the release of her kidnapped mother.

Krispy said...

This topic is so timely! I've been trying to figure out what this new character of mine is like - what makes her tick and what's holding her back.

Sometimes I feel like I might be over-thinking things. Is that a flaw? :)

Anne Gallagher said...

My current MC is in love with a man who's still in love with his dead wife. And it's her desire to make him love her. Not so easy.

Faith E. Hough said...

This is a really interesting post. I'm still struggling with "figuring out" what makes great mg novels work, and this was very enlightening! Thank you!

Christina Lee said...

OOh um, my teen boy hides behind certain things (like gloves b/c of burned hands) so he never expands his circle of "friends". Great post!

Shopgirl said...

Great tips. I think I tend to be a "character" myself in real life, all of the flaws you mentioned seem to fit me. :)

I still enjoyed reading your write up though, that was just a little joke. I am a new follower!

The Survival Mama said...

hehe...nice.

i think the best characters are flawed...i can relate to them.

swinging by from the blogfest, and following to make sure I don't miss any of the good stuff.
The Survival Mama

Theresa Milstein said...

I never thought about it, but many times my protagonist is the one getting in the way of herself.

In my last one, she's afraid to take chances so she shies from saving the world and won't take a chance when her best friend falls in love with her.

In my newest one, she keeps listening to her best friend, which keeps causing strife with her boyfriend. She ignores her instinct.

Lori W. said...

"Or maybe your character is a writer . . . " Love this. Flaws should be easy to spot, but often my characters like to hide theirs, which I guess is another type of flaw.

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