Tuesday, March 9, 2010

The Human Struggle

Mindy here. I recently read Julie Lessman's A Passion Most Pure. One thing I loved about the story was the realism of the characters. The human nature. The heroine was very devout in her faith, pledging herself to purity until she married. Yet when the man she loved kissed her, wanted her, we saw how she struggled with that choice. She didn't have some super-human ability to say no just because she was a Christian. She wanted that man as much as he wanted her. Her body reacted to his touch.

In Karen Kingsbury's Redemption, the heroine has been betrayed by her husband, yet she's made up her mind that she will not divorce him. She made a vow and intended to keep it. But when she spends a day with her old boyfriend, the embers of an old flame are fanned. And when he kisses her, that flame burns hot, making her wonder if she's doing the right thing. After all, her husband betrayed her.

Suppose you have a character who was an alcoholic. Maybe not even an alcoholic, but someone who once turned to alcohol for release. If that person is under a lot of stress, do you think that person's not going to wish they had a drink?

I have a friend who struggles with reading romance because she says she gets tired of the heroine loving the hero on one page then, for no apparent reason, pushing him away on the next. If the reader doesn't understand why she's pushing him away, then that author has not done their job.

Multi-dimensional characters are human. Yes, they need to be bigger than life, but that doesn't mean they're perfect. We want our readers to identify with our characters. If a character has no flaws, how can the reader relate?

Have you read any books where the characters seem too perfect? Did it hold your interest? Who are some of your favorite characters? What makes them real/memorable?

Happy Tuesday, everyone!


  1. Mindy, I love Julie's characters because they are real and flawed!

    I think writing flawed characters is tough. But from how-to books and DVD's I've learned that the trick is to make them sympathetic so the reader likes them. Then you can show their flaws. It's a new trick I'm trying to use.

  2. Sometimes I wonder what people are thinking when they read things. For instance, I love Julie Lessman's characters and the way she writes, but I've seen some reviews of her work that really show that the reader "didn't get it". I don't always think a writer hasn't done their job if a reader "doesn't get it". Although, I know what you mean in the particular circumstance of your friend, but some reviews have really been unfair, including on Ruth Axtel Morren's book, "Dawn in My Heart". If you finish the book, the whole story is so clear. Including Liz Curtis Higgs' novel that is clearly a different version of Rachel and Leah from the Old Testament. One reader claimed it wasn't Christian fiction!

  3. Jenn, like anything, it's subjective. And yes, there are people that just don't get it. Liz Curtis Higgs NOT Christian fiction? Yeah, right.

  4. Missy, what books do you recommend?

  5. Mindy, for this particular thing with characterization, I really like the Hauge/Vogler DVD called The Hero's 2 Journeys. And also Save the Cat (Blake Snyder).

  6. I love fiction that is so real you can relate to it. Even more so in Christian fiction. It can be gritty, but written clean.