Character Flaws and Casts

“That which does not kill us makes us stronger.” ~Nietzsche

Yes, it’s true. No hype here. I broke my wrist. An avulsion fracture on my dominant side (if you’re going to do something might as well go whole hog, right?) So, typing has slowed down to a crawl. In fact I’m pretty sure the cast will be off before I finish typing this with my left hand.

But it comes with beautiful 6 year old artwork

But it comes with beautiful 6 year old artwork

On the upside, I’m learning to do so much more with my left hand. From full keyboard typing, to flipping eggs (onto the floor), to doing my hair, I’m learning to adapt. And not to lose what I’ve built I’m still going to the gym.

Through the trainers at the gym I’ve learned about a neat phenomenon. If you work out one side, it actually makes the other side stronger as well, just not as much. When you work out your left bicep, you brain sends out the message to send extra blood to both biceps and work on increasing growth there. Your brain doesn’t discriminate.

I tried it out and sure enough, I pushed my left arm with presses, and not only did it color from the extra blood flow and effort, but so did my casted right who did none of the presses. And so hope is restored that I won’t fall too far behind.

But this got me thinking about character generation. Creating three-dimensional characters that can overcome the trials we subject them to is tricky. The biggest trap I see in a lot of writing is making them too good, too perfect. For the general public “too good to be true” is just that… unbelievable. The passion and desire to see them succeed is born for the worry that they won’t.

It’s the Superman syndrome. Superman has some many powers and invincibilities the writers have to spend half their lives coming up with reasons for him to lose or weaken them to make the story suspenseful or enjoyable to read.

So, let your fireball throwing, too beautiful to be real succubus with a heart of gold be a klutz. Or your hard working single mom who takes care of everyone may always pick the wrong man. Make it real and make it have real effects on their life. Your audience will thank you for it as they root for the character to find new ways to overcome it.

Thus today I lift my cast to the box on my character sheets titled “Character Flaws and Wounds”. Those quirks that make their lives harder, more believable and more suspenseful. May those traits keep their lives always balanced on the head of a pin.

“To share your weakness is to make yourself vulnerable; to make yourself vulnerable is to show your strength.” ― Criss Jami


About Courtney Sloan

A New Orleans native, Courtney Sloan relocated to the hills of Central Maryland after Hurricane Katrina. There she lives with her husband and fellow author, J.P. Sloan, their son and their crazy German Shepherd pup. Adding to her writing life, Courtney is also a professor at the local college and enjoys learning a world of new ideas from her students as she teaches them about writing and communicating. Courtney’s New Orleans upbringing has left her with a love for the macabre and a flare for the next to normal. She writes speculative fiction with a variety of horror and sass mixed in for flavor. She loves taking the world of politics that haunts us now, and adding the supernatural to create a gumbo of thrills to keep you up at night. A self-proclaimed lover of way too many fandoms, Courtney also loves crafting. From blankets to jams to stories, it’s always better homemade. View all posts by Courtney Sloan

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