Flawed or evil characters, Round Robin, November 20, 2021
Flawed or evil characters inhabit a number of my books. Although I don’t depend on such characters to move the plot forward for every story, they are required for some of them. It all depends on the story, what the story needs, and what the characters reveal to me because, truly, the characters determine the story.
All of my characters have flaws. I find flawed characters not only more interesting to write, but also to read. A perfect character is boring, but, for me to relate to or root for a character, the flaws have to be within reason if they’re the protagonist. However, the characters were discussing today are not just flawed, but evil. This month, Robin wants to know how they became flawed, what part they will (or have) played in one of my novels, and what happens to them.
As my books are really written by my characters, I find out their motivations as the story progresses. I don’t know if that’s true for authors who plot, but it’s generally true for me and my process. It makes the story as exciting for me as it is for the readers because I rarely know what’s going to happen next until it’s “on the page”, so to speak. Sometimes, my characters will let me know in advance, but, more often than not, that’s not the case.
Take Esme, for example, from my psychic suspense/thriller novel, The Whispering House. When I first started writing this book, I didn’t even know this evil character existed or why. It was only as the story progressed and I got to know the hero, Michael, that I learned more about her. He is the one who told her story. Her motivations were initially pure—well, as pure as they can be for her. Her path to evil is not overly complicated. It began with an ancient war between her people and humans which resulted in some serious consequences to her people for the abuse of their powers. In her quest to find a “cure”, she has gone mad. A mad, powerful villain is always dangerous. LOL What happens to her? Well, you’ll have to read the book to find out. (Grin)
Similar to Esme, Gang just appeared one day in Xue’s story Snow Spirits, an action/adventure shifter novel. A leopard shifter, Gang is a tracker for the People’s Liberation Army. He revels in his abilities and considers himself better than normal humans. He also enjoys tormenting those he sees as being weaker than he is. Honestly, I’d never considered his back story until this question. Why a leopard? They are extremely efficient, and deadly, hunters. They have a reputation for being sneaky and unpredictable. They are also one of the four big cats that is known to stalk and hunt humans (along with lions, tigers, and mountain lions.) Whereas Xue’s early years in Unit 731 and subsequent life in a small village destroyed her self-esteem, Gang’s experience twisted him. It played on his leopard’s natural inclinations to be sneaky and unpredictable. Then, when he discovered how much stronger, faster, and, in his mind, better he was than regular humans, it gave him a bit of a god complex. He was too good to mate with regular humans. The PLA promised him a pick of the shifters. Xue, a snow leopard shifter, seemed perfect because he felt he could bully her. What happens to him? Oh, he gets what’s coming to him. (Grin)
In Asta and the Shewolves, my story in Flip the Trope anthology, the flawed character is Asta’s ex. Dirk is just a regular dude. Well, as regular as a wolf shifter can get, anyway, but he’s also a dick. He’s dishonest with her and a coward. Instead of breaking it off with her immediately, he cheats and then does it over the phone. They’d been together for a decade. He enjoyed being engaged to a famous rock star. There was a certain celebrity to it, while not actually having to be one. It gave him status in the pack. He liked the perks, but he was ultimately a weak, selfish man. Does he get his just desserts? Well, in a way, he does.
My two other books, Mr. Hotness and Some Place to Belong, don’t have flawed, evil characters. Not in the way the others do. And my current WIP is a second story in the Asta and the Shewolves series. Other than Dirk, I don’t know if there’s going to be a flawed, villainous character. I have novella, Hieroglyphs, that does have a villain. It has Egyptian gods and ancient curses. It’s a fun story.
These characters sound interesting! You’re right, all characters are flawed, but types of flaws can be very different!
Perfect characters are boring and unrelatable.
Isn’t it interesting that first you have a man who can become a leopard, and then you discover that his personality is like the leopard’s nature?
You are right: you didn’t design him, but he told you about himself.
Well, when the character came forward, i knew he was a leopard. Part of this was my knowledge of leopards and their nature. It fit.
I just noticed, by website link is mis-spelled above.
The Whispering House is in my TBR file. Having read a little bit more about it now, I’m looking forward even more to reading it.
Yay! I hope you enjoy it.
Hi Marci, I do agree flawed characters (and villains) are interesting to write. Maybe I’ll try thinking about what animal my own characters might be in a project. Hmn! Anne
You should. It’s fun and challenging.
I like that your characters tell you things- You aren’t alone – mine tell me what they plan to do or on occasion, completely surprise me by just doing it unannounced. There are times when their actions have me desperately saying NO, DON’T DO IT, but then I realize those flaws are what make the story interesting.
Wow, Marci, your blog was a fun read. I’m drawn into finding out more about your flawed characters just from reading that! I love how those secondary characters come in and take my little world by storm!
Thank you, Diane. They are fun to discover.
Marcie, I found the use of an animal’s behavior to define a hero very unique.