We all make mistakes
Live and learn
To err is human to forgive is divine
One of the most important things a writer can do is create believable characters. Even if writing a zombies vs. robots book, we have to relate to the characters.
There are so many characters in literature who are noble and good. We want to be a better person after reading their stories. I think those are great, however we are not a perfect race. We are not always noble or good. We think and do things we genuinely know we aren’t supposed to, but we do it without really knowing why.
I like to pride myself on being a giving person. Someone who is considerate of others feelings, however there have been so many occasions when words fly out of my mouth unintended—at least partially unintended. It takes a few seconds. A look. Whatever. Then I want to crawl back inside myself and take it back. I don’t know why I said what I said, but I did. Does that make me a bad person? No. I guess, it just makes me real.
So how far can you go when crafting characters? How big of a hole can you dig them in before the reader simply thinks the person is unlikable?
I’m struggling with this in my second novel. It’s completed, but in need of a good edit. I am a by-the-seat-of-my-pants writer, no matter how hard I try to follow a written or even an imaginary guide, my characters steer me on their own path.
In this story, the MC is struggling to relate to her father, to forgive him for a foolish and disastrous mistake he made in a moment of weakness. He made the wrong decision because he loved someone so much. He paid his consequences, however so did his family and that is the thing she can't forgive him for.
Years later, his daughter makes a really bad decision of her own also in the name of love. She tells a horrible lie. One that she can’t undo. This isn't new. Who hasn't lied when they've been pushed in a corner?
I’ve had a critique partner suggest I take it out. “We need to like her,” she says. I get that, but so often in life we repeat our parents mistakes. No matter how much we say we won’t do this or that, we end up doing the exact same things. My character judged her father so harshly for something he would give anything to take back, yet she made a dumb mistake too. She took a risk and it didn’t pay off.
So do I dumb it down? Make her do the right thing so she’s likable? Or do I let it ride, hoping someone gets it?
I’d love to hear about how you infuse character idiosyncrasies into your work?