This can be a troubling situation for a writer and worthy of a blog post. I have recently suffered from this literary affliction and it is a tough one to wrestle with, readers.
You will have created an amazing fictional character who lights up your creative world. They are like an angel.
For some strange reason you got carried away with their positive attributes, blessing them with; beauty, kindness, a gentle nature, a passion for old people, small children and animals, an inability to have a cross word about anyone, a vocabulary containing no naughty words, an inability to tell a white lie, a love of punctuality, a talent for giving thoughtful gifts at Christmas, a desire to give generously to the poor, a dislike of drinking, an inability to dance in supermarket aisles when no one is watching, a permanent smile on their face and no physical urges for anyone unsavoury or even better forbidden. *Sigh*
Praise to you writer on creating such a virtuous character! They are perfect in every way.
Other characters giggle and whisper “goody two-shoes” as they glide about.
Once you finish your draft or story something about it won’t feel right. You will have this nagging doubt whenever you read it and will be woken in the small hours by your over-active creative mind.
What is wrong with your story?
Yes, that’s right, you have a dull character with no interesting vices.
Don’t panic because this issue will be picked up by any good beta reader or writing friend, who has agreed to read your work. Their feedback will contain phrases like ‘unrealistic main character’ or ‘couldn’t connect with Little Miss Goody Two-Shoes!’ or even worse ‘your character needs some personal issues’.
As you blink away hot stinging tears you realise your goody two-shoes character needs to change.
Ok, so how do you survive this worrying literary situation with a perfect, angelic main character?
Well, here are a few things to think about:
- Bad habits make a character interesting and memorable.
- None of us are perfect. We all have vices. Writing about a character who is basically an angel in disguise is not realistic.
- Readers want to connect and identify with your characters. How can they connect with a goody two-shoes?
- Flaws can help differentiate a character.
- According to this article, when done right, the character flaw is the most effective way to add depth to your character. This is because once a reader identifies a character’s flaw, there’s an intrinsic need to see that flaw overcome.
- You won’t be able to see this, because you are too close to your story, but your goody two shoes character doesn’t want to be sugary sweet all of the time. They are craving some bad habits and are looking longingly at your other characters who are having the time of their fictional lives being wicked! *Sigh*
- Bad habits can mess with your character’s journey and keep their life from running smoothly.
- Put yourself in the shoes of your fictional character – think about how boring your fictional life is.
So, what you need to do is overhaul your goody two-shoes character.
Get out your magical writer’s tool box full of bad habits, flaws, fears, vices and inner turmoil.
Now, I am not going to list my favourite character bad habits and flaws as I could be here all day – so many delicious ones to choose from!
Here are some links to some stuff on character flaws which you might find useful:
- Angela Ackerman’s ‘The Negative Trait Thesaurus – A Writer’s Guide to Character Flaws.’ This is fab!
- This article on ‘The Creative Comma’ – 62 Character Flaws.
- This screenwriting article about how to add depth to your characters.
Come on, wipe away those writer tears, put that goody two-shoes character down and go do some bad habit research.
Yes you have written 50k on this weird angel like being but we all make literary mistakes.
I guarantee your main character and your story will be eternally grateful.
Take care out there writers and stay wicked!