Isn't it nice to think that tomorrow is a new day with no mistakes in it yet? ~ L.M. Montgomery
This quote got me thinking about my characters--and the mistakes they've made. And the ones who haven't made a lot of mistakes. I don't know about you, but sometimes I have a hard time giving my characters flaws. Heaven knows I'm not perfect (just ask my daughters), but I want my heroes and heroines to be better than that. I have to make a conscious effort to give them less than stellar traits to overcome. In an ironic twist, looking back at the characters I've created, the most memorable of the bunch are the ones who have the most shortcomings. The hero who makes you think, "Seriously, dude? Did you really just say that?" The one who finally pulls it together in the end when you honestly doubt he's ever going to be worthy of the heroine's love.
In another ironic twist, I've realized the characters in my suspense books always have issues, but not nearly as many quirky hangups as the ones in my straight contemporaries. Maybe because they need more strength to overcome the bad guys? Maybe because there's more focus on the plot in these books? Solving a mystery and staying one step ahead of a crazy killer, along with working through emotional issues hindering the love story, may be enough conflict for one book. Adding major character flaws to the mix might just double the word count needed to get everything sorted out. And let's face it, publishers aren't looking for novels that top 100,000 words no matter how interesting our characters! But, in a straight contemporary with no mystery to solve, the reader expects more depth of character to keep the story moving. Which is why my two cowboy books win the contest for memorable heroes. These books don't have the most complicated plots, so the characters had to stand out to make the books shine.
In these excerpts, do you want to smack my heroes upside the head and tell them to get a clue? Yeah, me, too! Let's just say they've made a few mistakes...
From Nothing But Trouble... Chase loves women. All women. He's loved so many women, he doesn't recognize the real thing when it comes along...
“Have you ever been in love?”
His hands clenched around the steering wheel, but his tone was hesitant. “I suppose so.”
“That’s a lukewarm response if ever I heard one.” She shifted in the seat and leaned toward him. “Is it always just physical for you? Have you ever tried engaging your emotions, your heart?”
“Hell, Honor, I don’t know what to say. I’m not good at talking about that sort of stuff. I feel plenty. You twist me up like a pretzel.” Tossing his hat in the backseat, he ran a hand through his hair. “You make me question everything I’ve ever wanted. When I look at you, it seems like there should be more.”
Tears burned behind her eyes at his admission. “Honestly? You’re not just saying that to get me into bed.”
“I’m not sure what I’m saying.”
“I suppose it’s a start.”
He raised an eyebrow. “Yeah?”
“Yeah.” She gave him a weak smile, feeling her defenses crumble. “It may get you to second base. Possibly third.”
“Hot damn! That definitely is a start.”
From Asking For Trouble... Cole lost Miranda once over their differences. Too bad he hasn't wised up any...
He snorted. “Diaper changing isn’t a skill I’m going to need in the future. I don’t intend to have kids. And no offense, but I’d rather shovel horse shit for a living than set up a babysitting service.”
A pulse throbbed painfully at her temples. “I haven’t forgotten. What was your charming comment on the subject?” She snapped her fingers. “That’s right. You said having kids was like wearing neckties. With little effort, they could choke the life out of a man.”
“I said that?”
She dropped the wet, gooey rag on the coffee table, not caring if it took the finish off the damn thing. After shrugging on her jacket, she turned to face him. “You did.”
“Wow, I didn’t know I was so poetic.”
So, who are some of your most memorable heroes? Flawed or not so much? Curious minds want to know.