Thursday, March 11, 2010

Character Growth

Today, I’m posting over at The Blood-Red Pencil It’s Ask the Editor day and I’m answering a question by award-winning author Carolyn Howard-Johnson about character arcs, especially for female protagonists. Is it realistic to have a weak character? Is it realistic to have a strong character with no weaknesses? How does a weakness affect the character’ arc? Will readers put down a book where the character’s weakness, although relevant to the time period, doesn’t resonate with today’s readers?

I’ll be addressing those questions today on The Blood-Red Pencil, then tomorrow, come back here again for a post on protagonists, in general.

Do your protagonists have weaknesses? 
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14 comments:

  1. Yes, lots of weaknesses. :)

    I'll pop on over...thanks!

    Elizabeth
    Mystery Writing is Murder

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  2. Everyone has weaknesses!
    See you at BRP!

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  3. Hi Elizabeth and Maribeth. We and our characters would have dull lives if we had no weaknesses!

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  4. Sounds interesting, I'm headed over ...

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  5. I love character stuff! Heading there right now...

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  6. Incidentally, I'm back on the Internet. Vegas was like the black pit - no cell, very little Internet. Couldn't get on, couldn't comment.

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  7. Heading over there now, Helen. To answer your question, of course characters need weaknesses--they wouldn't be believable otherwise, unless it's a fantasy novel with superheroes. But even they usually have a weakness, don't they? Superman couldn't be near Kryptonite.
    Karen

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  8. I don't mind a protagonist that has some weaknesses, but they are just too many, or are incredibly annoying, and I'm just not as inclined to care about the character. Not caring about my character leads to overall boredom with the story, and then I might not even bother to finish the book.

    I should add that some weaknesses can actually be a really interesting or add to the story, like dealing with an addiction for a fear. Other weaknesses, like whining a lot, are just plain lame.

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  9. i think they all need weaknesses and hopefully they can overcome them through the story arc - unless it's a tragedy.
    in my current WIP my female MC is selfish and irresponsible, which is what she needs to overcome in order to grow

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  10. I agree, some weaknesses can be a killer - and I can't name them since it could vary from reader to reader, like nails on a chalkboard might bother one person, but not another. And a character may not always overcome all the weaknesses that a reader sees. But there still needs to be a change in the protagonist to show their growth.

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  11. Well, hell yes! If they didn't would you want to read about them? I wouldn't. I like flawed folks who have lives that change and characters that grow. Can't do that if they are all tiddley perfect right now. I think of how flawed Austen's Emma was and how much I liked her in spite of those flaws or maybe even because of them.

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  12. Sounds great Helen - I'll pop over :)

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