Thursday, October 7, 2010

Flawed

So I've been thinking...what kind of characters/narrators do you find yourself drawn to?

I really find myself drawn to the complicated, flawed, and somewhat unlikable characters, and I'm not sure why.

Parker in Cracked Up To Be? LOVED her. And I was truly baffled when I heard that people don't like Sam at the beginning of Before I Fall. What?!?! I connected with Sam from word one. And Remy from This Lullaby...oh man, that's a character I wish I would have written. I adore Remy. I want to be her bff.

  

The super sweet characters in books are great, and, yeah, I like them, too. But not as much as the flawed ones. There's just something about these bitchy girls that gets me. I understand them, I guess. I get them in so many ways.

But then I think of Darcy in Something Borrowed and Something Blue by Emily Giffin. I hated Darcy. Hated. She was a bitchy character who was horrible from the first page of Something Borrowed to the last page of Something Blue. I felt like her "redemption" was totally contrived and I never once, not even for one second, felt for her. I wanted her out of my life, never to return. I only finished Something Blue because I was hoping for the unhappy ending I felt she deserved.

 

Why do I love some bitchy characters so much and hate others? What was I able to find in Parker and Sam and Remy that I couldn't find in Darcy? (Is it just because they are teens? That's a whole different blog post...)

I'm thinking about this because the narrator in my WIP...well, she's kind of a bitch. She's gotten less bitchy the more I've revised...she was downright horrid in the very first draft. But she does do some things that aren't very nice, and I still get comments from readers about  making sure she doesn't get too unlikable.

Now...I get it. I do. I obviously want my readers to be able to connect with my narrator. So even if she is flawed in some major ways (which she is), she still needs to have something about her that people can relate to.

I was thinking I was getting closer to finding that balance in this round of revision, but then I got to this key scene...the one I was scared of the other day. I kept trying and trying to write it, but nothing was working. In fact, I was trying to get these characters to fight, and they wouldn't stop kissing! Nothing would get them to start getting mad at each other. Nothing...except changing it back to how it was written in the original draft. The super bitchy draft.

Well, now she's doing something kind of horrible. Because the nicer things just didn't work. Because it's just who she is. But now I'm worried. Is her bad behavior forgivable? Will people be able to connect with her? Is she a Parker? A Remy? A Sam? Or is she a Darcy?

So I wonder...what draws you to a flawed character? Do you like them like I do? How do you feel about the characters I mentioned? Who are some flawed characters you can give me for inspiration?

7 comments:

  1. Very interesting post... In one of my manuscripts, my favorite character actually ended up being a secondary character who was a total beyotch! Not to take away from my MC, who I love of course. And the MC in my new wip is super snarky and I LURVE her!

    I think we're drawn to characters who have spark and sass... and sometimes bitches. So long as we understand WHY they act the way they do :)

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  2. I agree with Sara -- bitchy MCs are alright as long as the reader understands (or grows to understand) the motivation for what they do. Someone who was just born miserable and wants to bring everyone else down... Is not going to be popular.

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  3. The whole thing with Parker was that she was miserable BECAUSE of something. I think if you understand a character's struggle, you're willing to give them some leeway when they're being mean.

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  4. Ever read Lolita? Humbert Humbert is one of the most despicable characters I've ever come across, and he made me absolutely ill. I felt very intensely about the book - probably for that very reason. I HATED him, but the book wouldn't have been the masterpiece it is without him.

    I love Holden Caulfield. I can relate to him so much, and I do like him because of his flaws.

    And then there's Six Feet Under, which is a TV show, I know, but all of the characters are so incredibly flawed that they never failed to bring out some kind of emotional reaction in me. Plus when you see how they grow, it really is an amazing ride.

    To me, if a character isn't flawed, then he/she isn't interesting to me at all.

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  5. Now you totally have me wanting to re-read the Giffin books....I read those so long ago, I don't even remember Darcy! Craziness.

    I can relate to flawed characters, especially if they have a flaw that I consider myself having. For instance, jealousy. I could definitely relate to that in a story. I know what you mean though about finding the balance between wanting your character to still be relatable, but also be able to be herself.

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  6. Hm, good question. I think there has to be a certain vulnerability in the character, especially if they lean towards being unlikeable. There has to be something that makes us sympathize with them, to better understand them.

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  7. I'm a new follower! I love your blog and look forward to following you!

    Your post is fantastic! I love a complicated character, someone who I can relate to, someone with issues, I love watching them learn more about themselves and fix themselves throughout the whole novel!

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