Flaws aren’t always bad…

Lately I’ve been going through an older piece of writing and editing it and rewriting it. It’s not writing anyone will ever see, it’s simply a piece I come back to often for my own pleasure of writing.

Anyways, it’s been quite some time (over a year) since I’ve worked on it and as I progressed I realised my main character is incredibly selfish.

Often, when other characters experience emotional pain, she will become upset herself, but not for the same reason most of us would when watching a friend be sad. Instead, she worries about being upset herself at having to watch them go through the emotional trauma!

Well, I was a little more than put off by her, I have to say! 😀

I was determined to take out this flaw I had written into this character, and was about to do so throughout the entire manuscript, but stopped myself.

It might not be a flaw I like, but it’s obviously how I’ve written this character throughout the whole story. And if I take out her flaws, she’s not exactly going to be very interesting, is she?

So, even though I don’t like the trait, I’ve left it. Characters need to feel real and, I have to admit, it does round her out as a character when it’s left in. Throughout the rest of the story I have written other characters noting it about her, so it’s obviously something I’ve noticed before.

It might be nice to have her grow out of that trait, and change as a person.

That’s all part of the fun of writing, isn’t it? Letting our characters grow out of some their faults and become stronger for it 🙂

Have you ever given a character a trait you didn’t like? Do you enjoy writing their flaws as well as their strengths?

I hope my face doesn’t stay that way!

My dog, Harli, giving an example of the expression, 'Look how cute I am!'. Taken by my mum, Twisted Pixel on Flickr.

My dog, Harli, giving an example of the expression, ‘Look how cute I am!’.
Taken by my mum, Twisted Pixel on Flickr.

The other day I turned to my mum and sister whilst writing and asked, ‘What is this face?’, and then contorted my features into some weird kind of wrinkled expression.

They gave me one those looks that said, oh dear, she’s finally cracked, and answered along the lines of, ‘I don’t think that’s a real expression’.

I realised then, that I really love what I do 😀

The saying (that has been drummed into anyone wanting to pursue writing in any form) goes, ‘Show don’t tell’. And so, in order to achieve this, I try and act out whatever it is my character is doing, or try to feel what they are saying or the emotion they are experiencing, to get a better sense of exactly what that would look and feel like to the senses.

A lot of the time, I look down right bizarre! But at least I can see and sense exactly what it is I am trying to write, and in general my writing goes up a few notches because I can see all the detail of that expression, gesture or action that I might not have though of and can note it down.

For example, if I had a character who was angry and shouting. I would shout out the line of dialogue, taking on the role of the character and see how I say the line, and what I do during it. This gives me a more realistic sense of what is happening to transfer to the page. It also gives each character an individual feel, as when I ‘act’ them out I can get into their headspace.

Sometimes, I will say a line of dialogue and come up with an awesome response that I wouldn’t have come up with if I hadn’t said it out loud. Though anybody passing would speed up to get by me having a conversation with myself, but I think that comes with the territory of being a writer!

For me, this method really works! 😀

I love creating characters that are unique and leave an impression on the reader. And it’s really interesting to find out how other writers tap into characters and how they create the emotion and dialogue that goes onto the page.

Do you act out emotions or say dialogue when writing? How do you get into the headspace of a character? Any techniques you use that might work for others?

Progress Report:

Word Count: 15,017 (+12,478 since Tuesday)
Status of Fourth Manuscript: Writing first draft.

Books read: 1/4

June eBook review: Book chosen. Reading.