Wednesday, April 2, 2008

Strengths & Weaknesses By Morgan Mandel

To round out a character or just to move a plot forward, it helps to include strengths and/or weaknesses.

Characters who are either completely great or awfully terrible tend to be boring. Even the best hero or heroine should have some type of flaw or weakness to make readers identify. Also, even the worst person should have some redeeming grace.

After you mention a strength or weakness a few times, the reader remembers. That trait almost becomes as much a character as the character who owns it. It's no surprise then when that trait plays an important part in the story.

By stressing an unusual talent your character possesses, readers can admire that gift. One example would be if you're writing a book about a person who studies or teaches foreign languages. It's no surprise when something important needs to be translated and that person uses such a talent to save the day.

In my mystery, TWO WRONGS, the main character has a weakness - claustrophobia, brought on by an incident when she was a child and stuck in an elevator. I made sure to mention her fear of elevators and closed-in places off and on during the story. When the climax occurs, it's no surprise that an elevator is involved.

If you haven't done so already, include a talent or weakness or both for your characters. It's kind of fun and makes for a really good read.

Morgan Mandel

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