This one time at Writer's Camp…
Flaws While Driving
Yesterday I was driving and I checked my review mirror (like I do every five to ten seconds) and spotted a very impatient seeming woman tailgating me. Instead of doing what I normally would do (slam on the brakes to see if they’re awake and to let them know that although I have a nice butt, she really doesn’t need to be that close to appreciate it) I kept an eye on her while I drove. Now, before you accuse me of being a gentleman or something else, let me clarify a few things.
Firstly, she wasn’t paying attention so slamming on my brakes would have ended up with me being rear ended. Her makeup, apparently, was far more important than focusing on her driving. How do I know? Well, I as able to tell what shade of rouge she put in her cheeks.
Secondly, I would have killed her. She was driving a rinky-dink Chevy Cavalier and I was in a big Honda Odyssey. I might have had some paint chipped (and a fender dented) but her engine mount would have ended up on her lap. And no amount of “It was her fault” would make me feel better, I believe, when they were scraping her internal organs from her engine block.
So once more I am reminded that though I am one of the bastard children of Ayn Rand and Robert A. Heinlein, I have some semblance of “community think”. I decided that the poor, 18-25 year old woman was one of those girls who was sent to college to earn her MRS degree. That’s the only reason I could think of when someone would be so ingrained about ensuring they look beautiful 24/7. They were trained to be pretty to be noticed by other, more successful people.
Bitter, me? Naw, I know I’m ugly. It’s all good.
This took a turn somehow and I’m not quite certain where it’s going… excuse me while I rearrange and re-compartmentalize my brain. Ah, there we go.
When I build characters, I come up with their flaws first. Why? Well, because good traits are easy to think of. But flaws, you have to really work at them and you need to really know your characters. Flaws are fun. Flaws can dictate just how you dig yourself out of a bad scene going nowhere.
Now, for the record, I don’t think you can cheat and have a character be gay and call that a flaw. I mean a real flaw, like a guy who was raised as an elitist and can’t stand the sight of, say, that Mexican gardener who mows his lawn each week. Or the hypocrite who tells others not to do something and does it himself in the privacy of his own home (like Fred Phelps). You need a real character flaw to find out what his redeeming qualities are. It’s hard to root for a hero who doesn’t have any flaws, you know.
So what types of flaws have your characters ended up with in your projects?