Saturday, November 8, 2008

Nobody's Perfect

“A book lacking in true and believable characterization is just so many pieces of broken china on the ground.” Michael Connelly in Writing Mysteries (edited by Sue Grafton)
My early stories -- okay, not just the early ones -- contain characters that some readers might not find believable. Why? Because they're one-dimensional. The good guys are good and the bad characters bad. But that’s not reality. I don’t know anyone who is always one or the other. Bad guys go to church and good ones might kick a dog now and then. As a reader, I enjoy characters who have flaws. That’s what makes them real. I forget that sometimes when I'm writing. On the other hand, I read a novel a few weeks ago that had a main character whose bad traits I found repulsive. It was good that the author included a dark side to the character, but he emphasized the negative traits to the point that, by the end of the book, I didn’t like the character any more, nor cared if he accomplished his goal or not. Still, I need to create real characters that have good and bad sides and show my readers how these traits affect the way they react in certain situations.

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