Wednesday, November 20, 2013

What's wrong with my WIP? (Part 1) Flaws

Why I started Weeding Your Writing

Nearly three and a half years ago I finished the first draft of my novel. At the time I knew it needed editing, but I never imaged how much. A month later I started this blog to help me learn how to edit. It didn't help.

What I needed to learn went deeper then the actual words on the page and into fundamental story structure and why it is that we enjoy reading the books that we do. Fortunately, I also started a book review blog called Sarah's Reviews, and reading a couple hundred books over the last few years has given me understanding that I may never have gained otherwise.

A month ago while trying to make sense of all the things I had learned, I stumbled across Jim Butcher's livejournal account which contains the most amazing story structure information for newbie writers that I have seen anywhere! I strongly recommend taking a look at his articles for yourself. Expect to see his posts referenced here quite regularly.

After pouring over his incredibly helpful information over and over again, I have begun the process of extensively plotting out my novel in the hopes of being ready to start re-writing in the new year.

So, what did I learn? What's wrong with my novel and is it wrong with yours? Only you can answer that, but this series of posts will tell you some of what I have learned in my writing journey.

What's wrong with my WIP? (Part 1) Flaws

I hate flaws in myself. I want to be perfect and I'm not. So when I wrote my novel I made my characters as flaw free as possible. I even tried to downplay the evil in my villains so things wouldn't get too unpleasant.

This didn't work. Flaws are important. As much as a part of me cringes while watching characters in books make mistakes, that very human aspect to them is essential. It makes the story interesting and the characters someone we can sympathize with.

Character weakness a writing comparison using Superman and Batman.
Why is Batman better than Superman? (Sorry Superman fans) Because Batman has human weaknesses he has to overcome. We identify better with Batman than we do with Superman. We appreciate flaws that we understand and flawless characters lack the ability to touch readers in that way.

Think of your favorite books to read. What flaws/weaknesses do the main characters have? This is true across the genres.
  • Sherlock Holmes did drugs.
  • Harry Potter . . . Have you even read the long tantrum oops, I mean The Order of the Phoenix?
  • Rose (Vampire academy) hits first and asks questions later.

Sherlock Holmes did drugs.Harry Potter from The Order of the PhoenixSee more Vampire Academy News

The classics are packed full of flaws and some are even named for them:

Elizabeth from the A&E version of Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen Pride and Prejudice - Jane Austen
Taming of the Shrew - Shakespeare

 Flawed characters/ Characters with weaknesses make stories better.

How to fix this problem?

Now that I've seen the light I just need to add some flaws to my characters. Still working on it. I'll let you know how it goes.

Do your characters have weaknesses? Do you find it hard to write them?

More "What's wrong with my WIP?" posts coming soon:
  1. Flaws
  2. Decisions
  3. The Beginning
  4. The Middle
  5. The End
  6. Backstory
  7. Conflict
  8. Pain
  9. Story Question
  10. Antagonist
  11. Scenes
  12. Sequels
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