Writing Fiction: Avoid Making This Horrible Blunder (Characters)

Do you enjoy writing fiction?

One of the joys of fiction is spending time with people who do things you’d never do, are way braver than you, and have a better sense of humor.

Characters are fun. I love creating them, even though I always procrastinate naming them; finding names for characters is frustrating.

If you enjoy your characters, be wary. It’s easy to make a horrible blunder if you’re fond of them.

Writing fiction: the blunder anyone can make

What’s the blunder?

Making your characters too perfect.

Bestselling novelist Elizabeth George, in Write Away: One Novelist’s Approach To Fiction and the Writing Life, points out that Sir Arthur Conan Doyle took care to make Sherlock Holmes imperfect…

(Holmes) has the perfect intellect. The man is a virtual machine of cogitation. But he’s an emotional black hole incapable of a sustained relationship with anyone except Dr Watson and, on top of that, he abuses drugs.

Always, always, give your characters flaws.

Imperfect characters

Perfect characters annoy readers, AND they’re unbelievable

Recently I read a novel by a bestselling author. Although the author’s known for creating glamorous characters, the main character in this novel was way over the top:

  • She’s a doctor: a consultant pediatrician. She’s also…
  • A gourmet cook;
  • Married with three children under seven;
  • An athlete, who’s entered several marathons;
  • Flies her own plane for recreation…

After around 30 pages, I thought: oh come on… No one has enough hours in the day for a stressful job, a family, and lots of free time to run marathons and fly planes. This author created a classic Mary Sue.

We discussed unreal, stick-figure characters, and over-the-top Mary Sues are similar. But how do you find character flaws which seem realistic?

Think of the flaws in people you know

Generally, it’s advisable not to use your family and friends when writing fiction, but you can use people’s flaws—and your own too.

Just for fun, make a list of flaws, with examples. Then you’ll become alert to various fun flaws you can use in your characters.


Everything you need to write serial fiction

Everything you need to write serial fiction Want to write serial fiction? Here’s how to make addictive, bite-sized fiction work for you. Start today. Mentoring included.


Sell More Books Today: The Simple Secret To Successful Fiction

Sell More Books Today: The Simple Secret To Successful Fiction

eBook: $6.99

Your books aren't selling. You've done everything right, but you may have missed an essential element of bestselling fiction...

That element is suspense.

More info →
Write Fast, Write Well: How To Be Prolific, and Sell

Write Fast, Write Well: How To Be Prolific, and Sell

eBook: $4.99

Sell more of your writing: For high-powered success these days, you need to be VISIBLE, whether it's on the Web, or on Amazon. Being visible demands that you become prolific.

More info →
Planning And Writing A Hot-Selling Series: Selling Writer Strategies

Planning And Writing A Hot-Selling Series: Selling Writer Strategies

eBook: $4.99

Try writing in series. Your audience loves to binge on entertainment, whether it's a series on a streaming service, or a series of books. Marketing series fiction and nonfiction is much easier than marketing standalone books.

 

 

 

More info →
Map It: For Writing Success — Fiction And Nonfiction Outlines Made Easy

Map It: For Writing Success — Fiction And Nonfiction Outlines Made Easy

eBook: $5.99

If you think you can't outline, you're wrong. You can create wonderful outlines which work for you: write more, and publish more.

 

More info →