Friday, April 26, 2013

W is for Weak Characters vs. Characters with Weaknesses #atozchallenge #challenge

As a writer, it's all too important to establish the difference between your character having a weakness or a flaw and your character being weak all together.It's the difference between a character readers can cheer on or one they hate- or worse, feel apathetic toward.

I like to pick on Twilight a lot. One, because it's Twilight. Two, because it provides such good examples of bad character creation. Today I'm going to use it as an example of weak characters. Notice that's plural, I'll stick to analyzing Bella for time's sake. 

At the beginning of the story we see Bella is already running from difficulty. Rather than stay and face the dynamics of her mother's remarriage, she goes sulking off to another state. It's easier for her start a brand new life than it is to just cope with the changes in the one she already has. 

Fast forward and she takes like two seconds to form an obsessive relationship with the hermit stranger. Any psychologist will tell you this is not healthy behavior. Fast forward even more and as Bella is once again greeted with change in her life, in the form of Edward moving away and ending there relationship, she totally loses her shit. First she spends months moping around doing her best impression of being catatonic, then she engages in reckless behavior as a cry for attention. 

"Bella, every time you do something stupid like that it makes you less
hot. You're starting to not have a whole lot to work with here,"
Even when the object of her obsession returns and proposes a life spent together, what should be exactly what she wants, she can't keep it together. She decides to turn the whole deal with someone else having a crush on her into a melodramatic love triangle. This coupled with the fact that she's really awesome at being helpless whenever a problem arises makes her likely to be the first victim in a zombie apocalypse. News flash people, if you're the first one voted off the island it's because you suck.

"But characters should have weaknesses," I hear you protest. Yes, yes they should. SOME weaknesses that they either work to fix or are destroyed by. 

Case in poing: Boromir from Lord of the Rings. He was prideful and foolish to think he could wield the rings power to save his people, unable to control the weakness the ring created in him, he was lead to an untimely and tragic death. 

The bigger she smiles the more screwed you're
about to be. 
However, the guy was still a steward of Gondor and a leader. He stood up for what he believed in and protected those he cared for vehemently. He lead men in battle and fought nobly to the end. Even when he was overcome by the rings draw, he pulled it together and apologized for his wrong doings before his death. 

Another example is Emily Thorne from Revenge. She has several weaknesses, the most outstanding one being her inability to let go of the past and her thirst for revenge. But she is not someone you want to cross. 

Manipulative and calculating, she can either make her enemies admit to crimes they never committed, or kill you in a back ally using her bare hands. 

Her weaknesses have lead to many heartbreaks for her, but she grows and learns. Every once in a while there's a glimmer of hope that she'll allow herself to be happy, but then the old devils come out to play and she's back at it. 

So, quick recap: 
  • Give characters a handful of things they suck at in order to afford them opportunities to be challenged and grow. 
  • Don't make your whole character suck, leaving them with no hope of ever changing their pathetic ways.

Commenters: If you're a new follower, please let me know so I can follow your blog back. Please either use the commentluv feature or leave me a link to your blog. Not all methods of commenting necessarily leave me a way to get to your blog, and do like to check out your work. A Few Random 

AtoZ Blogs: Because the AtoZ participants list is so massive, I don't include it here. However, I would like to give some love to my fellow bloggers, so I thought I'd pick a couple of random blogs to link to that y'all can check out at your discretion.

  • Raising Arizona in Wisconsin: We always get the question - "why would you move from Arizona to Wisconsin"??? Here is our daily life as we embrace the things we love about Arizona and how we have adapted to our life in Wisconsin.
  • thefeatherednest: A wonky little blog that allows me to express myself in verse and story, bore you with my childhood memories and rant a little at life's absurdities.
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