Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Do your characters have insecurities?



It’s the first Wednesday of the month, which means it’s time to talk about insecurities. Before I do that, I’d like to thank Alex Cavanaugh for hosting this wonderful meme.

I decided to do something different with this month’s Insecure Writer’s post and talk about our character’s insecurities. Since people have insecurities, so should the characters in a book. Harry Potter doubts he’s powerful enough to defeat Lord Voldemort. Bella Swan doesn’t feel she has anything to offer Edward. These flaws help readers relate to them. I mean, would Harry be as likable if he felt he could charge in and kill the most feared wizard of their time? And Bella would have been a completely different person if she felt she was as beautiful as the vampires who are supposed to be flawless.

Insecurities help to add depth to our characters. Readers can find bits of themselves in a character that’s nervous about speaking in front of a crowd, worried that a decision they made ruined someone else’s life, or insecure about being liked at a new school.

In my young adult paranormal thriller/romance, EMBRACE, Madison hates change. She would prefer it if everything stayed the same, because for her change has never been good. Of course, change is inevitable and everything around her is changing. It’s just one trait that helps to bring her alive. In the middle grade novel my agent is shopping around Zach moves to a new school where he discovers he’s not as quick to jump into new situations without his best friend at his side. It’s just one layer of his personality and an obstacle he won’t be able to overcome until he faces the guilt he’s been harboring over something that happened between him and this same friend.

Some of the greatest characters in literature were insecure: Hester Prynne in the Scarlet Letter, Dorian from The Portrait of Dorian Gray, Heathcliff in Wuthering Heights.

So make your characters insecure about something. Give them fears and quirks. It’s these flaws that make them likable—sometimes hated—but always more human.



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Plus, there's still time to enter to win an eBook of Embrace plus a $15 Amazon gift card. For more information click here or on the Birthday Bash icon on the right side of this blog.


17 comments:

  1. Saying hello from IWSG... I've observed that real people who act like they fear nothing, like they nothing to be insecure about-- they are often the ones who, when you get to know them, are insecure about sooo many things. So I'm applying that knowledge to a particular character I'm writing about in my current WIP. Thanks for the post!

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    1. That is so true! Glad the post sparked an idea for one of your characters!

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  2. I think it's a MUST that characters have insecurity--if we want them to be real, anyway. Great post, Cherie!

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  3. I agree with Cynthia. Those who squawk loudest [righteous and all] often have the most to hide. Interesting, isn't it?

    Vulnerable characters do add a lot of depth. Stakes and conflict keep the pages turning. :)

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    1. I agree too. People are definitely interesting!

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  4. Love this! It's so true. My 14-year-old always looks at me like I'm a monster when we talk about my characters. A look of horror spreads across her face and she says, "Mom! Why are you so mean to them?" I just smile. Flaws and insecurities make for characters a reader can invest in. :)

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    1. Not sure if you're aware, but your captcha is on. I had to go through 3 different ones before I could read one. :/ Just didn't know if you were aware or not. :)

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    2. We can be mean to our characters. Love your daughter's reaction. :)

      Thanks for letting me know about the captcha. I'll turn it off so it's easier to leave comments.

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  5. My characters certainly have insecurities! And I've had fun messing with Byron's in every book.

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    1. Messing with our characters is part of the fun of being a writer ;)

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  6. Hi Cherie,

    Who would want to read about a perfect character? I love reading about insecure, flawed people. Because we all are insecure in some way.

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  7. Clever twist on the insecurity theme. Exactly right, insecurity makes them human and thus relatable. Dorian Gray is on my to-read list for 2013 - can't wait!

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    1. He's a great character. I should read that book again.

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  8. So incredibly true! I wonder what insecurities my characters have...hmm...

    I'm stopping by from Author Bounce and ISWG :) Happy writing!

    Megan @ Writing One Word at a Time and Megz Madd Readz

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    1. Some characters just hide them better. ;) Thanks for stopping by!

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