Sunday, April 10, 2011

Movie Magic

I had a thought in the shower (where thoughts seem to flow like water), about writing. More specifically, about my characters.

There's something my characters and I have in common: we're not perfect. While this might seem obvious (I mean, no one's perfect, right?) I'm constantly surprised by the number of authors who write books and screenplays about people who never seem to have a bad hair day. I see this more often in movies, but since a decent number of movies are based on books, I can't excuse my fellow authors from this generalization.

No one is perfect. It's a largely accepted fact. And yet, I've read entire stories and watched whole movies where the hero or heroine goes to hell and back on some mission or other, and never sees more than a couple of ruined outfits and six or seven stitches. Though, I will excuse most action films because they're pretty much all about someone getting the sh*t beat out of them (hats off to the Die Hard movies here... poor Bruce Willis).

I'm an Evil Author. I take great pleasure in making my characters suffer. But no matter how unrealistic my character's punishment is, I want a reader to connect with them. If I'm sending a group of people on a long trek through the desert, they're going to be sweaty. They're going to be caked with dirt. And they aren't going to smell like a bushel of roses. If a person is throwing energy balls, there is a possibility that someone is going to get burned (if not burst into flames).  Outfits will be singed; furniture will be destroyed. And if they just got out of a fistfight, those bruises aren't going to be gone the next day.

I believe in character flaws. I believe in making the most beloved character do something that you really don't like them for. I believe, in short, in making them human.

Crazy, eh?



  1. Couldn't agree more. I hate the flawless hero. I think the only thing I dislike more is the stable boy who, in the course of two pages and a training montage, is suddenly a sword master. Or insert whatever other unrealistically gained skill the hero(ine) acquires. I have been extremely careful to prevent either of those situations from happening in my WIP.

    Congratz on the new blog. Best of luck!


  2. Thanks!

    I periodically have people comment on how "real" a character seems at any given moment. It just sort of makes sense to me that if it's 3am, someone's wearing pajamas and no makeup, right?

  3. I took it upon jmyself to make sure the same thing happens in my writing. my good guys treat each other like crap sometimes, they get shot, they get the snot beat out of them, and the bear the scars and consequences. Take THAT, barbie-doll heroines!