Friday, July 17, 2009

Motivation

Yesterday's post and Katie and Lady Glamis comments urged me to expound a wee bit on hero flaws.

Katie made an EXCELLENT point. Flaws need to have a motivation. And, as much as I sit here and squirm in my seat at the injustice of it, a hero can't just have this huge flaw he must overcome because, "He's just like that..." Same goes for heroine's too...

Let's say, regardless of genre, your hero dude is an alcoholic. Why? Just that he started drinking one day and liked it and didn't stop isn't quite enough. Well, it IS enough, but you are missing a huge opportunity to create conflict and develop your character. Did a disaster happen in his life that led him to such a lifestyle? Did someone die, a girlfriend cheat on him, a wife leave him, a boss fire him? Was he raised up with an alcoholic dad and followed in his footsteps? Give him some compelling, unique back story that gives him more depth than just a dude that can't put down a bottle.

In my writing drawer, I have 4 books. One is completed, two are partially completed sequels, and one is my new book that I'm about 1/4th of the way done. I thought it would be fun to give you a sneak peak into my heroes to show you what I'm talking about (but please keep in mind... three of the four are WIP!)

1.) Jack: Seriously, the dude can't keep his house clean to save his life, and he is TOTALLY clueless about how to raise his niece who came to live with him when she was orphaned at age five. Jack's back story? Well, he was a bachelor, living the sloppy bachelor lifestyle, when Kat came to live with him. He didn't have the whole "oh my gosh a woman is coming over so I have to clean my house" phenomenon to whip him into shape. And as long as Kat doesn't have to do chores, she's totally okay with the chaos. Not the greatest example for a young girl though... Enter heroine Jenny who is the perfect housekeeper and helps "clean" Jack up.

2.) Peter: I'm still developing his flaws. The major one at the moment deals with his back story. His wife died of cancer, but she was pregnant at the time. She refused treatment because of the baby, but he urged her to have an abortion and she refused. Their last days were spent arguing about this, and now Peter is riddled with guilt. To make matters worse, he's a youth pastor and has to "preach" against such things while knowing he was a hypocrite with his own wife. My point of this story is NOT to raise the whole "is abortion EVER okay" question. To be honest my goal is that the reader doesn't know my opinion, but to truly just bring out the grief and pain Peter feels now and how he copes with it. Enter unmarried pregnant heroine who's bitter against God... Geez, let's just say there is a wee bit of tension here and there.

3.) Matt: Probably my least developed character because I've worked the least on this story. The main thing about Matt is that he is a workaholic/career oriented guy. All he cares about is showing his father that he is as good as his elder brothers. He's also a womanizer, has a different girlfriend almost monthly, but this is because he has no desire to commit to anyone. But when his dad starts pressuring him to settle down... let's just say he finds a creative solution to please his dad but still keep his career #1.

4.) Reuben: My newest hero! This dude has a temper and a bit of a lead foot (as showcased with his accumulated speeding tickets.) His father died a year ago, and his mother has already remarried, so that irks him a little bit, and he's trying to fulfill his father's dream of opening another restaurant and creating a "chain" but the pressures of it all are getting to him so much that he almost snaps. When a new hairstylist slips and accidental chops off a huge chunk of his hair, he about explodes (never mind that it was his fault for almost falling asleep while she cut...)

Of course, said hairstylist is the heroine. And gets fired because of this oops. She, of course, doesn't let him off the hook for getting her fired... much to Reuben, and his car's, irritation.

Discussion: I'd love to hear about one of YOUR heroes. What is/are his major flaw(s)? Then, what is the motivation for that flaw? Why is it there? For those of you who thought, "but... my hero has an inexcusable flaw!" yesterday... here's where you can show me why it really IS excusable! I can so be proven wrong! :-)

***sidenote***

Fat Friday update: If you haven't noticed, I'm skipping another fat Friday. If you must know, I'm probably still pretty much close to zero, maybe up a half a pound to a pound. I'm GOING to do better next week.

Also, Hubby leaves Friday a.m. for NC to attend his grandfather's funeral, and I leave for IL tomorrow too with Gabby. Prayers for safe travels are appreciated!

8 comments:

Katie Ganshert said...

Great post!

I want to share two:

Meet Ben Mayfield: the hero of my second book, which is a women's fiction, not a romance.

Ben cheats on his wife. YIKES! How is he redeemable/likable?

A year before his infedility, his perfect life fell apart (this is all backstory). His 5 year old daughter died from a car accident he got into. He wa always the protective type. His wife always counted on the fact that he'd protect their childnre. She didn't want him to take Hannah out in a story, he did anyway. Now she is dead. His wife couldn't handle the grief and sort of collapsed inside herself and cut Ben off (physically and emotionally). In his sorrow, he turned to the arms of another woman. Now he is incredibly remorseful

My newest hero?

Meet Braxton McKay! Ooo, I'm really enjoying getting to know Braxton.

Braxton's flaw: he wants to win/succeed at all costs.

Why? His identity is wrapped up in his performance. Ever since he was a little boy, his father was proud of him when he got good grades or did well in sports, and disappointed when he did't. Plust, his dad is this super successful guy in all areas of his life. Braxton sees his dad as this perfect man and he strives to live up to that perfection.

How fun! Thanks for the post Krista!

Katie Ganshert said...

While I was describing Ben, I realized I wrote "take Hannah out in a story". I meant "take Hannah out in a storm"!

Erica Vetsch said...

What a fun post!

The hero from my next WIP is Cal, a charming, good looking cowboy who likes to flirt and keep things light. His mother and baby sister died when he was young and his father is the town drunk. He's learned to keep things light because he's afraid that if he lets people get too close, he'll get hurt.

Enter the heroine, Maggie, who got left at the alter by a lighthearted, good looking flirt who ran off when it came time for a commitment. She distrusts all men, but especially handsome flirts. :)

Tara said...

Your characters sound great so far.

My hero is used to being the best at everything, and when he isn't, he doesn't know how to handle it. He's gotten this way because he is good at most of the things he does. His motivation is to please his father who is a powerful figure.

Jody Hedlund said...

Hi Krista,
Fun to read about your MC's! They all sound like incredibly lovable heroes!

I'll be praying for your trip too! Hope it goes well!

Heather Sunseri said...

Hi, Krista! Great post. I love reading about character conflicts. Prayers for safe travels to you and your husband and to your husband's family

Susan J. Reinhardt said...

Hi Krista -

Thanks for becoming a follower on my blog. :)

Excellent post! Praying for a safe trip.

Blessings,
Susan

Lady Glamis said...

Great post!!!!! I'm not sure I'll outline my hero's flaws here, but it does rest my mind that it is motivation that really makes the difference for the likability factor. And all the motivation for my character's flaws works.

In the end, I just write who my character is. I can't worry too much if he's likable or not or he won't come out feeling genuine. I've made that mistake before, and it made nobody happy.

Your characters sound very believable, so great job! :D