Thursday, October 31, 2013

When Characters Make Mistakes

You know when you're watching a scary movie and the girl goes in search of the killer in the darkest room with no flashlight or cell phone, wearing the equivalent of a washcloth. As an audience member, you're screaming, "What are you doing??? Stop being an idiot!!! Get out of there!!! And put on some pants!"

I do this a lot.

There are usually more expletives.

But, as a writer, I get it. Take a minute and put yourself in that situation. If it was the middle of the night and you thought a killer was lurking in your house, do you take the time to put on clothes? Do you scramble in the dark looking for a cell phone and making noise that might alert the killer you're up and half naked? Do you turn on lights and give up the advantage of darkness? 

I mention this, because the heroine in one of my books does something out of character. Really out of character. It bugged me when I was writing the scene and the character took me there. It bugged some of my betas. Then it bugged me even more.

 I struggled with it to the point that I came up with 3 different ways to change it and drafted them.

Then I threw them all out.

Why? Because the other options were too convenient. While my mistake version seemed slightly out of character, the new options felt contrived. When I sat back and looked at them all, I decided to stick with my gut and let her do something wrong. I liked that it made my heroine a little more real, and that she has to do some introspection and admit she put others in danger because she was too confident. We all make mistakes. No one is perfect, and I don't think a book character should be either...well, maybe they should be perfect in some ways, like when it comes to a hot guy's abs and chest circumference...

But you get where I'm going with this. If a character is perfect, they aren't relatable. And who wants to read that?

As an author, especially when the book is in a series, one thing I really like seeing from my characters is their growth and the way they change. This character is a teenager. She's going through a crap ton of stuff that no person, let alone an 18 year old, should have to deal with. And up to this point, she's handled it like a champ. But, like most teenagers, she deserves to make a stupid choice here and there too, so when that's where she took me, I went there, and decided to stay.

There was a reason behind her decision and I like that it makes her a little more relatable. And, hey, she's wearing more than a washcloth when it happens, so while you might be screaming at me for a lot of other reasons, at least lack of proper clothing in cold weather won't be one of them. :)

1 comment:

  1. There's no "Like" button. So I'm telling you that I "like" this post.