Tuesday, August 24, 2010

He’s Not Perfect But He’s Mine

Today, I'm turning Terry's Place over to Autumn Jordon while the hubster and I go to Cripple Creek for our 41st anniversary. I know you're in good hands. (As am I.) And, no, Autumn's title has nothing to do with my husband. Just one of those coincidences. Weclome, Autumn.

I love a good romance story, don’t you? And I love a hero who is imperfect.

Screech …

What did I say? I love a hero who’s not perfect. That’s right. It’s true.

Why you ask? Because perfect heroes are boring. They’re not real. Can you name one man you know who is still perfect, after the third date, when the stars in your eyes are dimmed by the wakening dawn?

I see you nodding your head frantically and displaying your engagement ring or wedding band. Very nice, but admit it, the guy who is perfect for you is not perfect. He probably has a habit that makes you itch to hide his channel changer at times.

What if he doesn’t see that the inside of his car is cause for the medical association to quarantine the vehicle? Is this a big deal to you? Not most of the time, but what if your car is in the shop and you’re meeting a friend for lunch? Or worse, a new client whose account you’ve been trying to nail for months? Then the condition of his car becomes an issue. I can guarantee fuming fireworks would explode inside you if he looked at you with arms crossed over his chest and didn’t see the problem. Especially after you asked him to clean it out, but the ball game had been more important.

With spiral puffs of smoke coming out of your ears, you peck his cheek (because we always do so when leaving the house just in case something happens) and you climb into the car, drive like a woman to make it to the restaurant in time and then ten minutes away you get a flat. Guess what? No spare.

Now you’re standing on the side of the busy highway and it’s 96 ° with 100% percent humidity. Your hair, which took you an hour to style just perfect is beginning to hang limp and your feet are beginning to look like Cindrella’s step-sister’s feet in your new heels. You’re not happy and vow one way or another you’re going to break your hubby’s bad habit of using his car for a garbage can. You might kill him in the process, but hey, there will be a clean car parked in the driveway.

What just happened here? Right, conflict. Conflict feeds your story and makes the reader emotionally involved with your characters. And all this conflict happened because of a flaw.

Most writers think physical attribute when they hear the word flaw, like having a character with one eye or a back full of hair, but flaws can also be habits—something the character does without thought.

Flaws make our characters human and give us a clue to their psyche.

Flaws tell us something about the character without stating it.

In my new release EVIL’S WITNESS, my hero John has a flaw. He wears a tiny rubber band on his finger. It’s a window to his past and when he removes the band, the reader knows he is ready to move on. It’s a very emotional scene.

Okay, here’s a list of flaws off the top of my head. What do they say about the characters?

1) She wiggles her foot constantly.

2) He stares hard at the people who are speaking to him.

3) She carries her purse everywhere, even from room to room.

4) He plays with his wedding band.

5) She always has to sit in the front seat of a car, a bus or plane.

6) He refuses to go the mall.

7) She can’t stand roses.

8) He has a bottle of champagne in his refrigerator for ten years.

9) She always parks under a light.

10) His front lawn is perfect, but his backyard is not.

Okay, pick one or two and tell me what you think using them shows about the character and how could the flaw develop conflict?

For more, visit Autumn Jordon, 2009 Golden Heart Finalist, and author of Evil's Witness and Obsessed by Wildfire at www.autumnjordon.com


Patti Struble said...

Ok, so I covered the list & 2 stuck out. 1st - my husband hates the mall. As a matter of fact, he hates shopping with me for anything but GUY stuff. I like to think it's his way of saying, "Whatever you want, honey. It's fine." But, I doubt it. Malls are for girls, auto parts stores are for boys - kind of like Venus & Mars, maybe.
As to the other, I don't like roses. To me, they are glib & a constant reminder of events best soon forgotten. They represent, for me, a false sense of emotion - not the real thing. Of course, this is just my take & a little too much of my own psyche on display.
However, I like the point. Flawed we can fix; not flawed leaves no challenge.
Patti Struble

Mary Ricksen said...

These seem so minor.
I have a list of my own I would like to share if I may.
He misses, his aim is faltering, if you know what I mean?
He talks all the time, even to himself.
He tries to tell me what to do. (Ha!)
He's careless and knocks things down.
He never finishes a project.
He caught the toilet see on fire while repairing something in the bathroom.
He doesn't listen, he acts like he is, but he isn't.
More? I got plenty. But he loves me and we've been married so long. He's like my left leg.

Now conflict that! I don't think our story would make a good book, interesting, funny at times, but not the best!
Good luck, great blog.

Terry Stonecrop said...

Good insight. Thanks for sharing!

OK #10. He worries about what people think and tries to make a good impression. He doesn't care as much about himself because the backyard is where we spend most of our time.

Autumn Jordon said...

Developing a guy who only sends roses and for no reason other than that is what guys are suppose to do would be a great souce of conflict fo you, Pattie. She has told him time and again why she hates the flower but he still gives to her for her birthday.

On his side, he doesn't know why she is upset. He even went to that cute little shop in the mall where she always stops and sniffs the flowers. It reminds her of Paris, when she went there with her ex-boyfriend.

Oh my.

Autumn Jordon said...

LOL. Mary, I think you have a lot of material there for a great character. Just change the names to protect the innocent.

Seriously, it's little things like the ones on your list that will make a character memorable.

You should write comedy. LOL.

Autumn Jordon said...

That was thought to in writing #10 too, Terri, but what if he always has to buy the best and most expensive and he ran out of money.


Lilly Gayle said...

I'm sorry. I couldn't help laughing when I read: "Most writers think physical attribute when they hear the word flaw, like having a character with one eye..." I got this visual of a cycloptic hero and couldn't contain my laughter. But I totally agree with you Amber. Heroes need flaws to be real. I've been married to my flawed hero for 30 years. So congrats to Terry on 41.

We put up with our husbands/boyfriends because we love them. And they put up with us because otherwise, who would clean the toilet? lol!

Autumn Jordon said...

Lilly, I must have given you the giggles, because I'm Autumn. I must remind you of an Amber. LOL. Thanks for stopping by, girl. Always a treat.

Caroline Clemmons said...

I laughed at Mary Ricksen's comment. She and I may be married to twins separated at birth. LOL Oh, except the fire part. I don't think he's ever done that.....yet.

As you said, Autumn, perfect would be boring, right?

Autumn Jordon said...

So right, Caroline. Next time you need a character, turn around. Thanks for popping by.

P.L. Parker said...

She can't stand roses - her sense of smell is so acute and the overpowering scent of the roses reminds her of that horrible night years ago at the funeral home . . . .