Today the Dragon Wins

"Today the Dragon Wins" offers information from Fantasy Author and Professional Editor Sandy Lender. You'll also find dragons, wizards, sorcerers, and other fantasy elements necessary for a fabulous story, if you know where to look...

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Sandy Lender is the editor of an international trade publication and the author of the fantasy novels Choices Meant for Gods and Choices Meant for Kings, available from ArcheBooks Publishing, and the series-supporting chapbook, What Choices We Made.

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Thursday, February 15, 2007

Writer’s Guide
Character Sketches Part II

In addition to Word of the Day and Grammar Guide, this site for writers includes items that relate to the artistic side of the craft of writing. So we’re doing a series on Character Sketches. If you missed Part I, you can find it in the archives on Thursday, February 8.

As I pointed out last week, sketching out your characters is as important as sketching out the plot of your story (and we’ll talk about storyboarding in an upcoming Writer’s Guide). You need to be intimately involved with the people or creatures who carry your plot. Last week, we went over an exercise to learn some of the top momentous events in your characters’ lives. Today, let’s talk about the things that make your characters real: their flaws.

Woah. Flaws? But, Sandy, my characters are perfect. That’s what makes them heroes!

No. If your character is Little Miss Muffit-Perfect, guess how many readers are going to sympathize with her? Not a lot. She needs a flaw. She needs a problem with her view of life. She needs something that makes her real. She needs something that makes the reader say, “Oh, yeah, man, I’ve done that, I can totally relate!” (Relate is the key word there, by the way.)

In Choices Meant for Gods, Amanda Chariss Derdriu is the lead female character. She’s supposed to save the world (that’s a little tongue-in-cheek, but you get the idea), so she’s got to have a lot of moxie, right? But she can’t be this beautiful, fabulous, sword-wielding Geasa’n with the abilities of goddesses hundreds of years older than her resting at her fingertips all the time. She needs a flaw to make her believable and relatable. Well…she can’t draw worth a darn. She can’t cook worth a darn. She also has this inability to notice a man’s interest when it’s turned completely on her. But here is the flaw that is her faulty life view: She doesn’t believe she can carry the weight of the burdens her birthright places on her without her wizard at her side. Oooh…now THAT’s a good faulty life view. That’s interesting. That’s intriguing. That makes a reader sit up and say, “Woah, I feel that way when I’m alone” or “Yeah, I don’t like it when I have to face such-n-such alone.”

What’s your main character’s flaw? Is it something that the reader can relate to? Does it draw the reader in to make him or her root for your character? Stop and think about it and see how much more depth you can give your main character.

In the next Writer’s Guide, we’ll discuss how to solve that faulty life view.

“Some days, you just want the dragon to win.”

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