Monday, August 14, 2017

Resume Weaknesses in Characters

As an author on social media, I encounter a lot of posts by other authors. Many of them I pass on by but some of them are quite interesting. Then there are those that are odd.

I recently came across a post that was asking about weaknesses and main characters. This is an interesting topic because it delves into characterization.

I noticed that one of the responses was what I can only describe as a resume weakness. It was the kind of weakness that you give in response to an interview question asking what your greatest weakness in the workplace is.

I have to call this a cheater cheater Pumpkin Eater. If the greatest weakness that your character has is that they "try too hard to save people" or they "work too hard" to support their family, that's not a weakness. That's a virtue.

A real character weakness is one that makes the character somehow flawed, not a better person. If your character's weakness is actually a virtue, that does not make them more real, and it doesn't make them more relatable.

Resume weaknesses do not improve characterization. They do not improve your character as a relatable person. They do not make your writing better.

They do turn your character into a Mary Sue. They turn your character into an idealized version of whoever you are trying to characterize. And they make your character into someone who isn't as relatable.

No matter how hard we try to turn our weaknesses into subtle virtues, weaknesses are weaknesses. Flaws are flaws. And characters are people that should have both weaknesses and flaws, as well as virtues and nobility. Otherwise there just a cardboard cutout of a character.

Tuesday, August 1, 2017

Two Reviews of Too Wyrd - This is a good one!


Too Wyrd, by Sarah Buhrman
Some books just get you. They just catch you right - and Sarah Buhrman's first book in her Runestones saga does that with me. 
It's the story of single mother Nicola - who discovers her sister is mixed up with a cult and sets out with her best friend Joseph to try to rescue her. The kicker? Nicola's also a heathen witch. And it turns out this cult actually could bring about the apocalypse. 
Plunging headlong into a world of urban fantasy, with Norse gods and the possible coming of Ragnarok, this is a great ride of a tale. It kinda slows up a little bit in the first third, but then rushes onward towards... maybe... the end of the world? 
Nicola is a great character, brittle with the authorities investigating the supernatural shenanigans but passionate in her friendships, and a reluctant heroine, drawing on her own strength even with the cost that using magic imposes upon her. 
If you're a fan of urban fantasy, this is squarely in the genre - with a great female lead character, and a swirl of magic and mythology. Honestly, I enjoyed this more than Jim Butcher's Dresden series - definitely a world worth discovering. 
AI Rating: 5/5
- Leo McBride

You can also find a video review by Diane Morrisson HERE!