Super Easy, Barely an Inconvenience

Six years ago, I wrote about the question why and how it can improve your storytelling. As in why are your characters doing this? Why are they going here? Why would he do/say/think that? (You can read that post here.)

These are routine questions that my husband asks as he reads drafts of my novel. And while his questions are sometimes annoying, they do make my story better. And they have changed how I write because as I write, I am already looking for what scenes he is going to question.

Another way to get good at questioning the character motivation/action or plot of your work-in-progress is to check out the Pitch Meetings on the Screen Rant YouTube Channel. In this series by Ryan George, a pitchman (Ryan) presents movies to a studio executive (also played by Ryan). The movies may be current or slightly older, but either way studio exec Ryan questions and points out flaws.

When asked to explain a flaw, our pitchman sometimes answers “I don’t know,” “because,” or “because they are (or aren’t) the main character.” And sometimes a plot flaw is brushed away because it is “super easy, barely an inconvenience.”

Check out this section of the “Jurassic World Pitch Meeting.”

This “super easy, barely an inconvenience” thing happens a lot. I was watching Criminal Minds the other day. The agents opened a closet to reveal a bunch of boxes containing old records. They needed to find an old patient who may be the unsub (bad guy). Did it take them long? No, it was super easy, barely an inconvenience as they opened one box and found the file right away. I know TV shows are under a time constraint but it wouldn’t have been hard or time consuming to show their search taking longer.

Here are two other short clips that show a movie’s flaw. The first is from Captain America: Winter Soldier.

If you really want a good Pitch Meeting with lots of flaws. Check out the one for Ready Player One. (The book was better than the movie and didn’t contain a lot of the flaw that the movie did.) Here is just a snippet of the Pitch Meeting.

So, don’t take the easy way out. Give your characters challenges. And make them work for their goal. Question everything they do because your readers sure will. Rarely do people do something without a reason. And yes, that reason may only make sense to them but at least there needs to be a reason beyond it is what you (the author) want for the story. Always, look for the flaws in your story and answer the question “why” and you will add realism and believability of your story.

Developing characters recap

I have written numerous posts giving information and hopefully some insight into the realm of novel writing. As it is Spring Break here in Texas, I thought I would take a break from writing something new and recap my posts on developing characters for your novel. If you missed these or just want to re-read them, click on the “read more” link to see the rest of original post.

What’s in a Name? Picking the right name for your characters

If you are a parent, you know how much you labored over the perfect name for your child. Now imagine you need to do the same thing for over a dozen or more characters. Yikes! Read more….

Developing a realistic antagonist

bigstock_Shadow_Man_469091As I mentioned in last week’s post, I have begun working on a new novel. Luckily for me, I began developing the premises for this novel a few years ago. But one area that I didn’t really work on is the antagonist.

The antagonist, the person that will try to thwart your hero and provide conflict for your story, is one of the most important characters to develop. Most authors spend a majority of their time developing the main character. The same amount of time and effort should be devoted to creating a realistic antagonist. Read more…

Reasons your protagonist needs a sidekick

Batman has Robin. Harry Potter has Ronald Weasley. Fred has Barney, while Frodo Baggins has Samwise Gamgee. And who could forget, Han Solo and Chewbacca. Yep, we are talking about sidekicks. Read more…

How much do you need to develop minor characters? 

So you know that you need to fully develop a background and motivation for both your antagonist and protagonist and of course, their supporting cast (sidekicks, best friends, and close confidants). But how much do you need to develop minor characters?

Well, that all depends on how minor they are. Read more…

The importance of character flaws 

No one wants to read about perfect characters that always smile, act polite and eat their vegetables. No one is perfect and readers don’t expect your characters to be perfect. In other words, everyone has flaws and so should your characters. Read more…

Cats as characters in your novel 

ToshRecently, I wrote about dragons in my fantasy writing series. Today, I would like to address using cats as characters. Now, I chose cats because I am a cat-lover. But these same ideas could work just as well if you wanted to use dogs, horses or some other animal. And much of this can be used for other genres besides fantasy. Read more…

The Character Interview: Getting to know your characters

It is important to get to know your characters BEFORE you begin writing your novel. The more familiar you are with them, the better you will be able to bring them to life.

One method of developing your character is to do a character interview. You ask your character questions and answer back as if you are that character. This gives you a chance to explore some of their background from their point of view. Read more…

Now you may notice that I have not written a post about main characters. Well, that one is coming. Next month I am particpating in the A to Z Challenge (where bloggers post daily following the letters of the alphabet). For the letter M, I will be discussing main characters. Until then, I hope you enjoy this recap.

The importance of character flaws

No one wants to read about perfect characters that always smile, act polite and eat their vegetables. No one is perfect and readers don’t expect your characters to be perfect. In other words, everyone has flaws and so should your characters.

As humans, we are short tempered. We overeat when we are nervous. We leave our dirty clothes on the floor. We envy others. We are afraid of heights or the dark. There is no limit to the negative aspects of human behavior. People are greedy, selfish, arrogant, pessimistic, uneducated, abusive…the list can go on and on.

Simply put a character flaw is an imperfection, phobia or deficiency in your character. These flaws can affect your character’s actions and abilities. But this goes beyond just bad habits such as leaving dirty clothes on the floor or chewing with your mouth open. I am talking about the flaws in our character that are ingrained in our very being. These are the flaws that stay with us for our whole lives such a violent temper.

Since these flaws are deeply ingrained, don’t expect your character to overcome them. It is better to have them stay true to themselves. Does this mean they can’t overcome their flaws? No, it means you need a compelling reason for the change, just as there was a compelling reason for the original trait.

Now when creating your character, don’t just concentrate on developing a whole bunch of quirks – those minor flaws that don’t impact your story. Quirks, such as cracking your knuckles, a scar or a thick accent, can be good for differentiating your characters from other characters, but they won’t affect how the story is played out.

You want to focus on flaws that will affect how the character meets his needs. The opponent should “attack” the hero’s weakness, bringing out character flaws in the hero. That is the kind of tension you want for your character. You want your readers to wonder whether his flaws will outshine his virtues this time. You want the reader to wonder if this is the day your character’s flaws actually destroy him.

You don’t need to give your character a tortured past or give him a physical problem. You just need to make him human. Remember the best obstacles are those that are created by the character themselves and these start with character flaws.