January 15, 2014 by Kira Lyn Blue
You ever have those days where you think your muse has gone off the deep end?
Mine likes to bombard me with a new idea, new characters, new premise, and demand full attention to that particular idea for a couple of weeks. Then, as soon as I find a groove on writing that story, she abruptly switches gears, dumps a whole new idea into my head, and refuses to discuss the old one anymore.
Sometimes I wonder if the ninja squirrels are putting her up to it. I think I may have a conspiracy to drive me insane on my hands.
At any rate, the muse dumped yet another new story in my lap a couple of days ago and I furiously flushed out a couple of chapters on that idea. What I really like about this particular idea is this time I have a supernatural with a real character flaw that ties right in with the overall plot and is ripe and juicy for character development across the story.
The problem? Where the story opens has the MC in a full-blown emotional breakdown because she’s been totally blindsided by circumstance. Now this element is critical to the story, but I worry that readers will be turned-off by an apparently weak, navel-gazing, self-pitying character.
Now, I’ve read plenty of books with flawed characters and still loved them. On the other hand, I’ve also dumped books where a character’s flaws were too much for me or I just didn’t personally like the MC. On the other hand, I adore Chuck Palahniuk’s books and many of his characters are pretty darn reprehensible. MacKayla Lane in Karen Marie Moning’s Fever series was so bad in the first book that I struggled through it. Moning had a fantastic plot, though that kept me holding out hope for MacKayla and eventually I was rewarded with some maturity as the character grew.
So, what do you think is the trick to presenting a story with a flawed character? Grab the reader with plot in spite of the character? Hit hard and heavy with action? Throw questions out there the reader must have answered? Or maybe even back the story up a step to show my character before the event that breaks her?
I’m leaning away from that last one because the event isn’t important to the story, only that it happened, and I do want to get to the more integral elements of the story quickly.