Monday, January 28, 2013

The Importance of Flaws in Characters

I'm working on a second draft of my upcoming novel, Drug Run. I originally put the book aside, because I thought the main character John Avery didn't feel real. I thought he didn't have a personality or motivation. He just made his way through the story, things happened, and he responded, but it all felt shallow. I didn't really understand who he was. I couldn't see the story from his perspective. I knew the problem was that he's supposed to be an action hero, and action heroes don't really have an arc. I mean, Indiana Jones doesn't grow and change in Raiders of the Lost Ark, right? Besides, sometimes I love a character so much that I'm afraid to give them a flaw that will weaken them in the eyes of the reader.

But this time around, I took a hard look at the novel, and realized there has to be change. Avery goes through a physical journey, but not an emotional one. I bit the bullet. I did give John Avery a flaw; his lifelong hesitation to rock the boat. He avoids conflict all his life, because of a terrible accident that happened to him as a child. He's afraid of what will happen if he unleashes himself. He's an action hero who's been trying not to be an action hero. Now, faced with a threat to his family, Avery is forced to take action to defend his family. He needs to unleash the fury within him.

I'm only on the first chapter of the revised draft, but it's made all the difference. Suddenly, I can write internal dialogue, and include the motivation for the things Avery does. He's taking control, and changing parts of the story to suit his needs. I just want to say to all writers, be sure that your main characters have flaws, something they need to overcome. It makes the story so much richer.

At least, I hope so. We'll find out when I actually finish the novel.

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