Deb Kim and Character Flaws

In the “real world,” character flaws are a no no. That’s why they’re called flaws, correct? But on paper, characters who are not flawed will bore you to tears faster than you can say, “Pollyanna.”  Yesterday, Deb Eleanor asked a terrific question, who are your favorite characters from books. I immediately commented with, “Professor Snape, Hannibal Lecter and Madame DeFarge.”  Then I looked at my list – quite a group of scalliwags (pirate moment for Deb Tawna.) We love to hate flawed characters, and that engagement keeps us turning pages.  Every genre needs good character development. Lucy Van Pelt is critical to Charlie Brown’s success as a cartoon – and yet she’s as prickly as a cactus.  And Charles M. Schultz managed to convey her flaws in no more than a few panels with a handful of words – genius.

My debut book is non-fiction, so I only had so much leeway in developing characters. However, even when working with real people, you can dig into where their flaws and foibles lie. I think I was pretty honest about my own flaws, starting with the title.

If you had to write about yourself, what flaw would you want to expose? Or hide?

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17 thoughts on “Deb Kim and Character Flaws

  1. I’d want to hide the lies. I hate even writing that, but I often omit info or “gloss over” it to keep the peace, to keep from being judged for my opinions, etc. I wish I wouldn’t do it, though.

    What would I want to expose? My scattered brain. I am one of the more distracted people I know, but exposing it tends to make people feel better when they forget something. After ten years of marriage, my husband lost his umbrella. He thought I’d be mad, but I just reminded him that I usually lost about five a year. How could I be mad?

    I’d also love a character who is unforgiving. Who knows she was wrong, or at least knows she should let it go, but can’t. I’m of the Mr. Darcy variety–my good opinion, once lost, is lost forever.

  2. Oooh, good question! I suppose I’d just as soon expose my smart-assery. It’s not like I can keep that one hidden for long, anyway. As for what I’d like to keep hidden…well, that’s a secret. 😉

    • Joanne, you too?:)

      I have a hard time holding my tongue (but I’m getting better, at least I tell myself so.)

      My mom will laugh but she claims I have no vanity which is really a way of saying I could stand to kick it up a notch in terms of fashion (what’s that?) and makeup (ditto).

      • Erika, I watched What Not To Wear last night – my friend Jenny McCarthy and her sister got Jenny’s PA to revamp her wardrobe and look. I thought, “Lord I need that!” It was great fun and Becky look fantastic at “The reveal.” I can make my characters very pretty and well dressed – does that count? And please don’t bite your tongue the best remarks/writing have some ZING!

      • My mom would say the same. I told her I was going to get author photos done and she asked very nicely if I would please do my hair and put on makeup (which I had to buy for the occasion).

        Kim: 😉

  3. Raising 3 children with autism excuses all flaws!!!

    My brother had to go under anesthesia today at Yale. I cannot tell you how many people said, “God bless you!” or “what you are doing is so great”. I’m sure they didn’t hear my tantrum about the fact that we were there 6 hours for what should have taken 15 minutes.

    Tantrums. Those are definitely one of many of my flaws.

  4. What a great question! I’m a fairly private person, so while I’ll admit that I did reveal a few of my flaws in The Weird Sisters, I’ll never confess which ones are mine…

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