Tuesday, April 18, 2017

Why Fatal Flaws Rarely Are

by guest Laurie Schnebly Campbell

It's pretty rare that someone's inborn flaw is actually fatal. After all, in real life God gives all kinds of second chances -- and even in fiction, we don't generally want our characters dropping dead in Chapter Two.




Well, unless somebody needs to get killed early on for the sake of the plot. For a minor character, as well as for a villain, it's perfectly all right to inflict them with some genuinely fatal flaw.
But we can’t stop there.

We also need to give some flaws to our MAIN characters…and then watch ’em struggle.

If that prospect delights you, skip the next few paragraphs. If you cringe at the thought of your beloved hero and/or heroine suffering, here’s some advice:



As pleasurable as it may be to envision perfect people whose lives are full of happiness, that doesn’t add up to a very compelling book. Most of us, just like most of our readers, know that life can be painful and difficult at times…and that every once in a while, we behave in some less-than-heroic way.

A character who lacks the self-confidence to speak up about some uncomfortable issue?

A character who knows there’s no reason to envy Big Sister but does so anyway?

A character who wants to lose ten pounds but can’t resist the post-workout snack?



We can relate to people like them.

So watching their fatal flaws (such as fear, or envy, or gluttony) get them in trouble confirms what we know about life.

And that makes it all the more rewarding, all the more uplifting and thrilling and just plain satisfying, to see them overcome those traits in time to bring about their happy ending.

WHAT FLAW SHOULD THEY HAVE?

Those of you who already know about Enneagram theory (ennea, pronounced ANY-uh, is the Greek word for nine) will remember how each personality type has its own unique strength…which, taken to excess, can also be a weakness.

And here’s what those are for each of the nine types. I'm giving examples for male characters, but they work equally well for women:



ONE: ANGER
The righteous Reformer wants to do right, think right and BE right at all times. Setting very high standards for the world (and for himself) earns him a white hat. However, he gets angry whenever anyone (including himself) doesn’t live up to those high standards...so you can see the problem.

TWO: PRIDE
The helpful Nurturer does a fabulous job of looking out for loved ones and anyone else who crosses his path, so he’s great to have on your side. However, he takes such pride in being needed that he might work to make people dependent rather than independent, creating room for conflict.

THREE: DECEPTION
The golden-boy Achiever always looks fabulous / successful / brilliant, and can light up a room just by walking in. (Think movie star or handsome prince.) Thing is, that glittering facade might not be totally accurate in every respect, and he doesn’t know how to reveal anything else.

http://www.freestockphotos.biz/stockphoto/15548


FOUR: ENVY
The never-afraid-of-emotions Romantic sees great, sweeping visions of how life could be, and his creative passion gives the rest of us something to dream about. But since everyday life rarely measures up to those great visions, he’ll feel envious every time he compares reality to the ideal.

FIVE: AVARICE
The analytical Observer puts thoughts ahead of feelings, focusing on whatever most interests him and staying detached from petty concerns about popularity or money or fame. He’s greedy for privacy to pursue his studies, and that detachment frustrates anyone who wants his attention.

SIX: FEAR
The skeptical Guardian resolutely does his job, but he’s constantly aware of potential dangers and ready for fight or flight (usually bouncing between both options). Keeping security as his top priority can be useful, but such vigilant caution can be taken too far…in either the fight or flight direction.

http://www.freestockphotos.biz/stockphoto/15564


SEVEN: GLUTTONY
The ready-for-anything Adventurer embraces life in its greatest variety, keeping all his options open in the quest to enjoy every possible new experience, person and place. But since he’d rather not settle for just ONE of anything, anyone expecting some commitment will be in for a long wait.

EIGHT: LUST
The natural Leader has a lust for power, which keeps him in control of every situation he encounters — if he can’t control it, he won’t go there. Whether out in front or behind the scenes, he wants to protect his inner core at all times, which leaves him unable to risk any (yep) vulnerability.

NINE: SLOTH
The easygoing Peacemaker is great at building a consensus, making everyone feel appreciated, keeping the group happy, and going along to get along. He minimizes any potential conflict by never expressing his own wishes, instead relying on whatever’s comfortable — TV, food, you name it.


Keep in mind that most real-life people have already done a pretty good job of overcoming their flaws. It’s only the fictional characters who need to grow & learn & change…so they’ll come up against all kinds of conflict on their way to the happy ending!

WHAT COMES NEXT?

If you'd like more information along these lines, you can get it next month in my email class (with always-optional homework) on “Nine Flaws, Nine Triumphs” at rwamysterysuspense.org/node/112  OR anytime (with 90% different information than the class) in my “Believable Characters: Creating with Enneagrams” book.

THAT'S THE PRIZE…

https://images-na.ssl-images-amazon.com/images/I/41c96f9fAkL._SX331_BO1,204,203,200_.jpg


...for whoever’s comment wins the Seekerville drawing tonight, and THAT leads us right into the ready-for-comments

QUESTION

In a character you’re reading or writing about now, can you spot some trait with good & bad qualities as two sides of the same coin? Who is this person, and what's their trait?

Laurie, eager to see some characters for books I'll get to enjoy soon or a year from now!

http://joinazima.org/real-people-like-azima/
Laurie Schnebly Campbell loves giving workshops for writer groups about "Psychology for Creating Characters," "Making Rejection WORK For You," "Building A Happy Relationship For Your Characters (And Yourself)" and other issues that draw on her background as a counseling therapist and romance writer. Learn more about writer and speaker Laurie at http://booklaurie.com



199 comments :

  1. Hi Laurie! What exciting stakes here! I've been wanting your book. Lol. I would say my heroine prides herself on being independent and self sufficient but in doing so she refuses to be vulnerable or admit to having a need she can't meet. As for the hero he's a smart guy used to being right and will tend to make sure he's right even if it almost kills him. Or maybe he's been willing to be in the wings until THE INCIDENT and now he's like a woman scorned. I'm more sure about her flaw than his. I like him more which is a common issue. Lol. We fear making those we love appear unlikeable.

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    1. Hellie, you're so right about the problem with making our beloved characters look flawed in any serious way -- how could we be that MEAN to these wonderful people?! I'm wondering if your hero, with his determination to be right and his self-effacement replaced by anger, might be a One or a Six? Those both sound like they could fit with his character, and of course they can both be tremendously likable guys.

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    2. Hellie, that's great insight into how we fall in love with our heroes and don't want to put any unlikeable qualities on him. :)

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    3. I was looking at these again--and I think my heroine falls into the Reformer role. She's my Crusader archetype and not afraid to speak her mind--so she is angry a LOT. And when it comes to my hero, the reason he's in his current situation is that he's jealous of his brother and the attention his brother gets and he's just flat out tired of it...so yeah, he's a bit of a romantic and he's a little envious. He wants to be acknowledged for his achievements too. See, Laurie, your blogs always make me think smarter about my characters!

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    4. Way to go, Hellie -- a Romantic character is all kinds of fun to write, and it'll be a kick reading about this guy!

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  2. Hi Laurie

    Hope everyone had a happy Easter with their families.

    In my urgent ms my hero and heroine are both grieving and doing it very differently. She is trying to move on but doesn't want to become attached to anyone or anything so if she loses them it won't hurt her. He is simply trying to push it down and go on as normal. So they both are not dealing with their true emotions and are showing the world a brave face.
    Cheers Tracey

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    1. Tracey, I like how both your characters are dealing with grief by burying their feelings; that's plausible as well as heartbreaking. Especially because they each think they're doing the best possible thing...and yet somehow it doesn't quite seem to be making things any better. Aaaack!

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    2. Tracey, your characters sound very realistic. And like Laurie said, the situation sounds heartbreaking.

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  3. Hi Laurie! This is another stellar blog post.

    In my current YA manuscript my heroine is a reformer and is a leader in teaching the freed slaves to read and write. However, she goes into the job with unrealistic expectations of herself and of the community. Besides getting angry, she feels like a failure.

    How did I totally miss that you had written this book? I must read it.

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    1. Haley, I can't wait to read your YA -- this is a day for surprises about books; I'm thinking the same thing about yours as you are about mine. :) And your heroine has a great blend of traits, because it's easy to see how her strength and weakness go so closely hand in hand.

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    2. Haley, that sounds like a very believable character. I can easily imagine how she could feel anger and like she'd failed.

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  4. In my current book I'm reading, the hero & heroine are best friends from childhood. He has had feelings for her for about 10yrs but doesn't want to cross any lines or jeopardize the friendship in any way, shape, or form. So he buries those feelings deeply and pretends to be strictly platonic when around her. His feelings of frustration come out sometimes in the form of humor, thus masking his feelings even more. Of course you know by the end of the story that the heroine has felt the same too, but was just as afraid to jeopardize the life-long friendship. Or wasn't sure that the hero felt the same :-) I'm not quite at the end, but you can see them both fighting those feelings :-)

    I'm not sure if that answered your question exactly, but it sure makes for some fun conflict and breathes real life into fiction. What I would call unrequited love! Or at least it seems that way to the hero/heroine :-)

    No need to enter me in the draw as I am a reader not a writer. It's always fascinating for me to learn more about how authors develop their characters. The more realist they are in their struggles, the deeper the connection for me and I will enjoy the book more. Character depth is so important to me. Make me love your characters, you have a reader for life :-)

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    1. Trixi, it's so cool to meet a reader who's fascinated by how authors develop their characters -- you probably know how much we love talking about such things! It's like hearing someone ask "what's your favorite dessert?" or "where do you like to travel?" or "how did you meet the love of your life?" -- who doesn't love chatting about such things?

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    2. Trixi, thanks for sharing about the story you're reading! It's so fun to come up with characters that we hope our readers will love! :)

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  5. Welcome, Laurie! We're so glad to have you back with us again. I've brought decaff and reguar coffee with flavored creamers. Y'all enjoy while you figure out your characters. :)

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    1. Missy, thanks so much for the invitation (not to mention the coffee, which I'm going to save for when I get up in another five hours) -- I love the hospitality here at Seekerville, and I'm awed at how long you've been providing it! What's it been, almost fifteen years?

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    2. Laurie, we're coming up on ten years this fall!

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  6. Welcome back to Seekerville, Laurie. You've given me some great ideas for internal conflict for my hero and heroine. Thank you!

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    1. Tina, I'm so glad you're seeing potential conflicts at hand...that's probably my favorite thing about enneagrams, is how they can offer such plausible combinations of strengths and weaknesses for people we KNOW are way-deep-down wonderful but who can't be there quite YET or else there wouldn't be any story. :)

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    2. Yeah, I tend to want to make them wonderful and forget the flaws. This is a really helpful way not to just slap a personality flaw on them, but to give them something good that is taken to the extreme. Much more realistic!

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  7. Great article! I always love working through my own personal demons by giving my characters similar (personal) flaws and seeing how they handle a situation. I guess it's therapy page by page. It's always good to get a second or third chance to work through things even if it's vicarious.

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    1. Marguerite, talk about a great description of "therapy page by page" -- that's one of the best things about writing, isn't it? And it's why some of us use the same type of character more frequently, while others use different types for every book...all just a question of what we feel like working through at the time!

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    2. LOL, Marguerite! I love the way you said that--therapy page by page. It's so true! I sometimes find issues I've been dealing with slipping into my characters. Things God has been teaching me end up being things my characters learn. :)

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  8. Welcome, Laurie! Being a psychology major this is all so fascinating to me. One of my current WIPs has a hero who is struggling with the guilt of his wife's death. Meanwhile, the heroine, his first love, can't get past the pain he inflicted when he abandoned her on the worst night of her life. Thanks for visiting today! I'd love to be entered into the drawing.

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    1. Jill, that sounds like some great conflict that'll be very difficult to overcome!

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    2. Jill, as a psychology major you've seen all kinds of ways to generate internal conflicts -- isn't it fun having another tool that can go in the box? I like Adlerian birth order a lot as well, and the priorities scale, not to mention good old mind-body-heart. But the characters you've got here have terrific flaws already!

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  9. Great blog post, Laurie! Ever since taking your Fatal Flaws workshop back in 2014, I've loved using Enneagram types to develop my characters and identify their major flaws. Your book is my bible and the first thing I grab when sitting down to flesh out a new story. I'm currently writing my next Harlequin Presents which features an "angry Reformer" who has strong morals but is quick to condemn those who fall short of his impossible standards, and a "prideful Nurturer" who is naturally caring but oversteps personal boundaries in her efforts to feel useful and valued. Lots of sparks, and lots of fun! :)

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    1. Welcome, Angela! That definitely does sound like a lot of sparks waiting to happen! :) You'll have to let us know when the story comes out!

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    2. Ange, I'm amazed it was only 2014...you've accomplished so much since then! And your One-Two combo will be especially cool with them sharing each other's wings, even though I'd be willing to bet they rarely (at least during the first half of the book) ever let themselves go to the other one's point of view.

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  10. Laurie, I want to know more about this.
    In my Speedbo project, the heroine is a RIGID perfectionist who has high standards for herself and others -- but it's because of a chaotic childhood with a brief period of sexual molestation, so she needs to have control over her world. Her fatal flaw is her perfectionism which stems from anger.
    The hero is "deception," a golden boy/party boy who finds himself in the position of being a pastor of a congregation in New England, of all places. His fatal flaw is his lack of self-confidence, he doesn't think he really has what it takes to be a pastor.
    I agree, Laurie, fatal flaws should only be fatal to the villain.
    I got on here early today, proud of myself, now off to the temporary day job. Will try to check in later.
    Kathy Bailey
    Making it all work in New Hampshire

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    1. Kathy B, those sound like some great characters with lots to learn together. :)

      Hope work goes well today!

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    3. Oops, typo above: Kathy, what a cool sigline -- I love "making it all work in New Hampshire." And it sounds like your heroine could've suffered from some (obviously misplaced) guilt over the sexual abuse, which girls sometimes do and which would make her even MORE angry. I hope the pastor discovers God can give him what it takes...but has a fascinatingly hard time getting there. :)

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  11. In my wip both my hero and heroine are dealing with anger and a struggle to forgive. There is also a feeling of Failure in both of them with some of the problems in their character come from external things happening to them. Their faith in God and His way of handling the problems shines through and they do get their happily ever after. Thank you for this post.

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    1. Sounds like you have a good handle on it, Wilani. I often write about forgiveness.

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    2. Wilani, it'll be cool seeing whether these characters each deal with their sense of failure/anger/unwillingness to forgive in the same way, or in different ways. It's gonna be uplifting no matter which option you go, but I'm kind of rooting for the versatility of each taking a different route to show how many ways it can work. :)

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  12. Good morning, Laurie, and welcome back to Seekerville! This is GREAT stuff! I'm definitely going to have to pull out my copy of your book (autographed, no less!) for a refresher. Thank you!

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    1. Glynna, how fun that you have an autographed copy!

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    2. Missy-- that's one of the advantages of living in the same state as Laurie! I've attended her Desert Dreams writing conference workshops in the past and I think I got her book when she was doing a signing at a Sedona bookstore.

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    3. Me too. Laurie is always fun to be around and we always get great ideas from her enthusiasm and support.

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    4. What fun to see fellow Arizonans here! Glynna, thanks for sparking the memory of that Sedona signing; and I'll be tickled if you get to attend this year's Desert Dreams. Sandra, too...both of you let me know if you'll be there because it'd be fun to catch up.

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    5. Unfortunately, book deadline, so no Desert Dreams for me. :(

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  13. I am one of those who resisted at first, Laurie. I wanted to show happy characters with take-charge personalities who got it right - until I realized (yes! because of your classes! lol) that the fun was in watching them come into their take-charge personalities and in knowing why so that we could cheer them on. Not sure what this says about me but now I LOVE torturing my heroes and heroines. :-)

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    1. Deboradale, I've been the same way! I don't like conflict in real life so have had to learn to torture my characters. :)

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    2. Debbie, it's impressive what a turnaround you've made over the years. :) I would never think of you as an Expert Torturer, but absolutely as a writer who knows what almost every reader wants (and needs) to see -- because look at how often you've successfully delivered exactly that!

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  14. Welcome to Seekerville, Laurie! For years my brain primarily functioned on the math and science parts of life. Then I worked with the public and learned a lot.

    I have a question about FEAR. So if our hero has been in the military, FBI, or is a cop, is his flaw FEAR?

    I think I need your class and the book. Please add me to the drawing. Thanks so much!

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    1. Jackie that's a great question.

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    2. Jackie, your question is such a good one that it's what I answer on the "preview text" page of the book! Short version is that ANYONE can & will feel fear if they see an axe-wielding madman turn on them. But when you think about their response to other situations, it offers more insight on their type. Your hero might've chosen those careers from a desire to overcome his fear, but he also could've chosen them for reasons associated with other types...I hope I'll see you in class; it'll be fun exploring those.

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    3. Jackie, definitely a "yes" on taking Laurie's classes. She will give you the courage, and teach you it's "ok" to torture your characters!

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    4. Aw, Marcia, thanks for the endorsement -- gotta love hearing from somebody who got something out of those classes!

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  15. Hi, Laurie. I'd have never picked sloth for the hero of the book I just finished, but there he is. He's hard working, but also works hard to keep everyone happy and that doesn't work. Thanks for the great post.

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    1. Stephanie, my heroine is a nine: sloth. My hero is a definite eight. So fun to see my current characters in there! Now I can play it up more.

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    2. Steph, is this the book with that fabulous title? If so, I can sure see him as a Nine because his hard work could easily be described instead as hard puttering...it doesn't need for him to break a sweat, emotionally speaking. And it's completely understandable why he feels that way!

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  16. Hi Laurie! I have your book, Creating Believable Characters, and I use it a lot! Just this morning, actually. The heroine in my latest wip was not behaving how I thought she should behave, so I looked up some character info and discovered that she is a Five not a One. Now it makes sense. No wonder she's too scared to open up to people. Love the post!

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    1. You've given me an idea LeAnne. Need to get my book out and do the same thing. I'm having trouble developing my characters also. And bonus. IF we get the characters developed deeper then plot gets easier to develop because we can do as Laurie says and know how to make them suffer.

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    2. LeAnne, that's so cool how that works! I'm glad you got her figured out. :)

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    3. LeAnne, what a kick that you actually got some use out of the book this morning -- I'm tickled by the timing. And also tickled that your heroine is now a Five, because (as a Five) I always feel like I totally GET what these people are about the very first time I meet 'em...whether in real life or on the page. So it'll be fun meeting her!

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  17. Great post as usual, Laurie!! And I love your book (as well as your wonderful classes) and I'm so glad someone mentioned having their book autographed. I'll be bringing mine to Georgia Romance Writers this Saturday to get mine autographed too. :) Looking forward to your all day workshop!

    I don't mind giving my characters flaws, or misbeliefs as I like to call them, but I inevitably make the mistake of letting my H/h get along a little too well in the beginning. Somewhere around the first 3 chapters of each new book I get stuck, the story grinds to a halt. Luckily, my CP points out that my characters are so harmonious, the story has no where to go.

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    1. Carol, I often get stuck around chapter 4 or 5! It drives me crazy.

      I'm so sorry I won't be able to attend the GRW workshop! I really wanted to.

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    2. Carol, I'm thrilled that I'll get to see you at the workshop this Saturday! And, boy, I know what you mean about keeping things harmonious...it's so easy, and so dangerous . Good for your CP on pointing out when that happens -- I can still hear mine warning "you're acting like a counselor again, trying to fix these people's problems in Chapter Two. You gotta make 'em SUFFER."

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  18. Laurie, so nice to see you here!!! Thanks so much for spending the day with us.

    I think this is a wonderful internal look of how to create those unforgettable characters...

    I love to give people flaws NOW.... when I started I was much too nice. I threw the NICE RUTHY out the window and re-examined people from within...

    And that was the best help I could give myself, to make sure those inner drivers and triggers are installed from page one... and then to keep the character in character until page 300... or whatever.

    Laurie, this is humongously, ginormously great advice.

    You used a big word. Whoa.... enneagram. :)

    I'm beyond myself over that one!

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    1. Ruthy, we thought we had the nice version of you! ;)

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    2. Ruth, isn't it fun discovering a new big word? I was glad that the first time I ran into it was hearing rather than reading, because aloud it sounds pretty reasonable, whereas seeing it on the page is like "huh? WHAT?" And I owe you a big thanks for the phrase "spending the day with us" because you reminded me to glance at the clock and realize I'd better get moving if I'm gonna make it to work on time!

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    3. Oh, that work thing enters into the daily schedule! I know that well!

      MISSY, LOL! Oh man, that is a telling statement, isn't it??? :)

      The nice Ruthy would never torture folks....

      And yet she loves to read T-O-R-T-U-R-E-D heroes and heroines.... I think that's why I loved LaVyrle Spencer so much.... And Michener.... Man, they put folks through the wringer!!!

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  19. I have learned a new word this morning. Enneagram. I'm not an author but the reader in me recognizes that a good story never has a perfect character. We want to see characters with flaws and watch them evolve and solve.
    Blessings!
    Connie
    cps1950(at)gmail(dot)com

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    1. Thanks Connie for reminding us of this from the reader point of view.

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    2. Connie, I love that quote: "A good story never has a perfect character." :)

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    3. Connie, you're exactly the person we need to keep in mind whenever it gets tempting to skip the evolve-and-solve process and just start with somebody perfect...or, maybe even worse, give them a flaw that somehow gets magically overcome just in time for the happy ending without ever showing exactly HOW that happened. :)

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  20. Hi Laurie and welcome to Seekerville. Always fun to connect with my Arizona writer friend. smile And what a timely post for me. I so needed this post as I'm developing my characters now for my new wip and this reminded me about developing those flaws. They really do deepen the characters.
    Have fun today.

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    1. Sandra, I'm glad the timing was good for you!

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    2. Sandra, it's so cool to see you're looking at the flaws -- gotta love that the timing worked out so well; it's like a (very small) reward for all the work you've put into making Seekerville what it is today! Good luck with the next book...any chance you'll have it done for the next Tucson Festival?

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    3. It should be ready. I'll be done. Whether its published or not depends upon the publishers-smile

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  21. Laurie, welcome to Seekerville! Thanks for sharing these excellent character flaws. I love creating characters that go so far with their strengths that they become weaknesses, as you say, the flip side of the coin. I've written a rancher hero who feels his carelessness caused his wife's death. He's protective but overdoes it and the independent heroine feels smothered. These flaws ensure conflict. I love conflict but only in my fictional world. :-)

    Janet

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    1. Janet, that sounds like a perfect setup!

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    2. Janet, I like your phrase about "characters that go so far with their strengths that they become weaknesses" -- that's a wonderful way to put it. Because really, just about every weakness COULD become a strength once God gets through with it. They don't always have to just vanish in a poof; instead they can re-emerge in a much better context.

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    3. Very true, Laurie! Love that it can go both ways. The characters weakness/flaw can get them into trouble but their strengths can save them.

      Janet

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  22. Great post, Laurie. There's so much in here I'm going to go back and re-read it. But I wanted to say thanks for coming!!!

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    1. Mary, I had to do a second read-through this morning when I was fresher. Good stuff!

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  23. I just read a book where he is very detail oriented. Lists. Schedules. On Time.
    And she's just wildly 'fly by the seat of her pants'. But very hard working and successful, as is he.
    He keeps wanting to clean up her home office and file things.
    She wants him to be spontaneous...and leave her office alone, she knows where everything is right now.

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    1. Ha, Mary! That sounds like you're writing my husband and me! Come on, admit it.

      FYI, I'm the spontaneous, I-know-where-everything-is-in-this-mess one!

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    2. Mary, it's lovely knowing you were inspired to read the material twice -- I'm impressed anytime somebody does that; I tend to think "if it didn't hit me the first time I'm moving right on" but your way is a whole lot better. And, Missy, I suspect if you and I traded husbands we'd have -- well, no, actually I guess we wouldn't. Drat. :)

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  24. Welcome Laurie! I love enneagrams and for this current WIP I think my hero's coming off too much of #2 and #9 instead of being the Guardian I want him to be. This is likely why I'm having issues writing him! It's all fuzzy till someone like you points out the obvious to us. It's hard to torture your characters when they're trying to overcome hurtful backstories, but it must be done. Please put my name in the hat for your draw. That's one book I need to add to my writing library. Have a blessed day here in Seekerville!

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    1. Laurie Wood, I'm glad the post helped you figure out your character!

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    2. Laurie, I wonder if he might actually be a 3 who's spending more time in his 2 wing & 9 arrow than the 6 arrow where he belongs? Or maybe he's an 8 who's so very much at home in his current arrow & wing that he's just flat-out NOT going to show the Guardian qualities you want? When things flat-out CAN'T work, I always take comfort in the thought that we're not writing enneagram dissertations, we're writing fiction -- so if something's not technically accurate but it's a great story, who cares?

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    3. Another person who knows what an enneagram is...

      Dagnabbit. ;)

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  25. In the book I'm writing my hero, is an honest, easygoing guy with high ideals. Except unfortunately many other people don't agree with his ideals leading to them growing upset with him. For instance he never apologizes for anything that he doesn't believe he needs to apologize over, even if everyone else is mad at him and expects an apology. If he doesn't believe he did anything wrong he won't apologize because then he would believe that the apology was dishonest (I may or may not have based that trait off of myself- cue shifty eyes).

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    1. LOL, love your honesty, Nicki. :)

      Sounds like a very interesting hero!

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    2. Nicki, I love your description of the hero refusing to apologize -- and I wonder how he'd react to the notion of saying he's sorry to hear that a friend's mom died even though that clearly wasn't as a result of anything HE did wrong. It sounds like he might be taking pride in Always Being Right, or guarding against the vulnerability of Ever Being Wrong, or...gosh, so MANY possibilities!

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    3. Hmm... I don't know. I never put much thought to it. I based Easton's thought process off of my own when it came to apologies for things that were purportedly done wrong. As for saying 'I'm sorry,' over a tragedy, I've never had much of a problem with that. Then again thinking back I always say WHAT I am sorry for when I say it for instance, "I'm sorry for your loss," "I'm sorry to hear that" "I'm so sorry for you". Easton would probably do much the same thing.

      He had to learn to cope with this thought process that followed apologizing the way I did; by finding something that he is truly sorry for and apologizing about that. For instance (and this is back to me) I would say something that would cause my mom to get upset with me. Then after we argued I would either tell her I am sorry that whatever I said upset her or apologize for fighting with her and possibly for raised voices or mean things said in the argument. But I wouldn't actually be apologizing for the original words I said if I didn't actually think that what I said was wrong.

      That's just an example that may or may not be based off of a real life experience- cue shifty eyes.

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  26. I have a new character who is the caregiving type. His problem is that if his attempts at caretaking are rejected for some reason, he feels hurt and goes off to brood about it. It almost winds up costing him the girl of his dreams. ;>)

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    1. I like that trait, Heather! Should make a good story.

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    2. Heather, wow, that's a great description of a Two's fundamental strength AND fundamental weakness. I'm so glad you said it "almost" winds up costing him the girl, because it'd be heartbreaking to see his dreams defeated by a flaw he's probably not even aware of -- and it'll be cool seeing how he eventually DOES become aware of it in time to make the necessary change.

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  27. In the last book I wrote (not published yet) my main character feels as if she has no control over her life when something drastic happens to her....so when confronted with a situation where she can do "the right or wrong thing", she selects the wrong path for (to her) all the right reasons - thus taking "control" of her life. I don't exactly know which trait this would be....

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    1. Patricia, that sounds like it can lead to lots of nice conflict.

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    2. Patricia, her desire for control sounds like an Eight if she prizes independence, or a Six if she prizes security, or a One if she prizes righteousness. Try thinking about her life before the drastic event -- her type won't change because of that event; instead she'll react to the event in a way that makes sense for her type. So if you look at what she valued two weeks / months / decades prior, that might be a good clue. :)

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  28. Hi, Laurie! It's so nice to see you here! Loved this post. I remember reading "Don't be afraid to throw your protagonist under the bus" and I've been doing that ever since. One of my favorite quotes is: "Smooth seas never made a skilled sailor." It's the tough times that both reveal and build character.

    I don't know much about Enneagram personality theory but it's a great way to delve deeper into the psyche of our characters. Going to bookmark this and reread again. Thanks!

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    1. Great quotes, Josee! Thanks for sharing!

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    2. Josee, I love that yours is the first post after my "do a bit of work at work" break -- I still think so often of your great observation about honoring Christ not just as Savior but also as Lord, and have quoted you to a lot of people! So your quotes deserve every bit as much applause as the ones about throwing characters under the bus and smooth (or not so smooth) seas...and I'm glad this post earned a bookmark. :)

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    3. Thanks, Laurie! Do you remember "Deep Thoughts with Jack Handey" on SNL? I spout off my "deep thoughts" and my kids shake their heads.

      Christ as Lord of our lives is something I'm really passionate about because I believe a lot of Christians are missing out on the blessings that come with total surrender. I was reminded this Sunday at my church crammed with CEO's (Christmas & Easter Only). I'm so glad they were there but Jesus deserves more than our rote obedience. There are many Christians who don't realize they aren't even living in the full light of his grace!

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    4. Josee, it's a safe bet your kids will stop shaking their heads about 20 years from now -- but isn't it frustrating waiting for those 20 years to pass?! And your "CEO" description is much nicer than the "C&E" I grew up hearing; gotta love an actual acronym.

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  29. Welcome, Laurie! I have your book on my shelf, and we attended a class at our church a year or so ago on enneagrams. Interesting stuff! I've always been fascinated with personality profiles and figuring out where I fit in (or don't!).

    My character example: In my latest release, A Rose So Fair, the heroine's fatal flaw seems to be pride--pride in her independence, pride in managing her farm single-handedly, pride in not needing anyone (or at least trying to convince herself that's the case).

    But her pride is rooted in fear, because deep down her independence is rooted in fear of losing one more person she loves.

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    1. Myra, I still haven't read this book. I look forward to it!

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    2. Myra, isn't it fascinating seeing how what originally appears to be the deep-seated flaw is actually closer to the surface than something else the character is almost never aware of? Well, until they achieve the breakthrough they need to deal with it -- whether that's humility, courage, or whatever, and BOY it's fun deciding what they'll need most!

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    3. Myra, I won your book during Speedbo. Will put it at the top of my TBR pile. Anxious to see how you handled the pride/independence/fear issue!

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    4. Thanks, Marcia! Hope you like the way the story turns out!

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  30. Hi Laurie - this was a great post. My heroine, Carly, is fiercely independent, needs no one. This independence allows to to bravely board a train to cross the country to marry a man she has never met to save herself from a bad situation. After her marriage that independence becomes her downfall when she tries to handle her difficulties on her own, refusing to trust her husband enough to confide in him or let him help her. I have never heard of Enneagram theory but I would love to read your book! Thanks for visiting Seekerville today.

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    1. Cindy, that sounds like a perfect setup for a strength being taken to the extreme so that it becomes a weakness. Good job!

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    2. Cindy, this heroine sounds so much like a woman I know who said she'd spent most of her life holding up her hand like a traffic cop saying "Never mind, God, I've got this one" and refusing to accept any help. It was such a great, vivid image that's stuck with me for a long time, and it's easy to envision Carly doing that same thing...if not with God, then at least with her husband for sure.

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  31. Good morning Laurie!

    This reminds me of what I told my teenagers when they we in for a job interview.
    Many times your strengths is also your weakness. One of my daughters LOVES to talk. She's never met a stranger and she's makes a great first impression. The downside--she loves to talk. Another daughter has always had a tough time in school, sports, everything. She has to work hard (and does) to do anything. The good side,-- she's willing and able to put in the hard work until she gets it down. Once she learns something, she got it and doesn't quit.

    I realize this isn't quite what you were talking about w/your characters, but Why Fatal Flaws Rarely Are jumped out at me.
    Thanks for you post today.

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    1. Connie Q, that's a great example! Thanks for sharing.

      You just made my stomach jump with nerves. My son is in a job interview right now. :)

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    2. Missy, I'll bet he does well. It's such a hard thing to "sell" yourself to others, even as adults.

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    3. Connie, it's wonderful seeing real-life examples of the exact same thing we look for in characters! Your "loves to talk" daughter and "works very hard" daughter are fabulous illustrations of how the exact same trait can be a strength or weakness depending on how frequently and how intensively somebody uses it...not to mention the situations WHERE they use it. (And, Missy, I hope your son sends good news soon.)

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    4. He said the interview went great! Now we wait...

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  32. Hi Laurie:

    Thanks for a very informative look at the Enneagram personality theory. I believe it is very important for a writer to be aware of all the many systems for understanding personality types.

    As an avid reader, I do have a word of advice for writers. Be sure to have the personality flaw flow from the needs of the plot. Nothing is as aggravating as a personality flaw that is obviously there because writing books say a character needs one.

    If the flaw is just there to be there then make it a quirk and not a flaw. Quirks are good too, even endearing.

    Here's an example: in Robert Parker's, Jesse Stone, "The Night Passage", the hero is fired from his job as a LA homicide cop for drinking on the job. He is then hired by corrupt politicians to be police chief of a small Maine town because he is an alcoholic. They do not want a competent police chief. Many other factors of the plot flow from the hero's efforts to control his drinking. Without this fatal flaw, there would be no story. That's what I like.

    I think the various personality systems can help a writer best recognize the fullness of the flaw that the plot requires. It's said that people read fiction in order to lead other lives. It's best then to get those other lives right!

    Here's the contrary example: the hero is an alcoholic but his drinking is still under control. He fights his drinking problem for the whole book and when he finds the Lord at the end of the book he comes to contain his drinking. The hero's problem with drinking is not needed for the plot. It was only needed to supply the 'inspiration' element to this Christian fiction. I call this artifice and it gets me upset with the author. I call such elements 'wallpaper.'

    In short: the plot should bring forth the character flaw and not the flaw be imposed on the story.

    Do you think this approach makes me a controlling LUST personality? :)

    Vince

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    1. LOL, Vince! You make a good point. We have to let the story and character journey dictate what fits. Not stick wallpaper on it. :)

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    2. I totally get what Vince is saying, I agree! Sometimes I can tell when the author tacked on a flaw because it was part of their checklist. But then I've also been accused of making my characters too perfect. ;-)

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    3. Vince, the kind of (bad) flaw-using you're describing is what author Cheryl Reavis described as "the Mr. Potato Head approach" to creating characters. Stick on a trait HERE, a tic THERE, another habit HERE, a flaw HERE, a weakness THERE, and before you know it there's a hodgepodge character who never comes together as a complete, integrated person. They certainly do have good & bad traits, but nothing that makes them a "whole" character! (And you'll get a kick out of the enneagram tradition that nobody can tell anyone else what their enneagram type is...I could say "sounds like you might be an Eight," but never "Vince, you're an Eight if ever there was one!")

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    4. Laurie, I love that Mr. Potato Head description! I can so see that!

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    5. Laurie: I also love the Mr. Potato Head analogy. I used to have a Mr. Potato Head. I like that much better than 'wallpaper'. Thanks!

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    6. Hi Melanie:

      Have you read Linda Howard's "Mr. Perfect"? I think you can have an almost perfect character as long as enough conflict is coming from other sources. One of my favorite heroes is in Sandra's "The Price of Victory" and I see him as an ideal hero and human being. Also, just because you don't have any major character flaws does not mean you are perfect. I've never thought that your characters were too perfect.

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  33. Hi Laurie - Great summary of the nine Enneagram personalities (my copy of your book is in the well-used part of my resource shelf). The hero in my current WIP is a solid 8 with the flaws that accompany it. A blockbuster actor, he wants to be in control of his image, at the expense of being vulnerable.
    Best, Laurel

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    1. Sounds like a great story, Laurel!

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    2. Laurel, it's such fun imagining your resource shelf -- I wish I had mine as well-organized! And it's easy to imagine the kind of frustration your 8 hero must've dealt with on his way to becoming a blockbuster actor, because anybody climbing the ladder in Hollywood has a hard time keeping control during those early years...it's impressive that he's made it as far as he has. Whereas for a 3, it'd be a piece of cake and therefore not NEARLY as big a challenge.

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    3. Ah, well, there's a fair amount of golden boy in him, too - he's rather pretty ;)

      And thank you, Missy. Haven't sold this one, yet, and I'm hoping the editors who requested it agree.

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  34. This is a great post, Laurie! I love delving into a bit of psychology when working on characterization.
    My hero is a bit of a golden-boy achiever--smartest and most hard-working, everything he does turns to gold. But he's also a poor foreigner who grew up in an orphanage and fell in love with the rich duke's daughter. So definitely he wants to hide any flaws or negatives about himself. But I'm not sure how that will play out. Oh wait! Later in the story when the hero and heroine find each other again ... okay, something's coming to me. He has done something that he never thought he would do--decide to give up on marrying the heroine and instead marry someone else to please his mentor/business partner. Yeah, that's going to really hurt to admit to the heroine when she wonders why he didn't keep his word to her.

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    1. Melanie, I'm glad you got your plot idea while commenting this morning! :)

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    2. Also, my hero is so used to excelling at everything, maybe when he is afraid he might NOT get what he's aiming at for once, he's afraid to keep trying and he gives up. Makes sense, right? (And once again, Seekerville has helped me come up with ideas for my WIP.)

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    3. Melanie, what a treat to watch the creative process happening right here on the screen! It absolutely makes sense that your hero fears failure...and my guess is that he won't be able to tell the heroine the entire truth because that'd make him look REALLY awful. So when they do (assuming they do) finally get back together and he acknowledges he's not completely golden, only to discover she knew that and loves him anyway...there won't be a dry eye in the house. :)

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    4. Aw! That sounds amazing, Laurie! LOL! :D Thanks!

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  35. Laurie, love your post. I'm a fan of Enneagrams too!

    But today, I'm most excited about this SAT!!! I'll be attending your one-day workshop for Georgia Romance Writers! Can't wait!!! See you then!

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    1. Debby, what a treat -- I'm so excited about this weekend; it's always lovely visiting Atlanta in the first place and then the chance to meet in person writers I've gotten to know online is like frosting on the cake. Or, wait, maybe that IS the cake and the fun of a workshop is the frosting. Or, wait, the filling. Or...hmm, maybe it's time for a snack. Anyway, I'm delighted you'll be there!

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    2. To celebrate Easter and your visit to Seekerville AND GRW, I've brought cupcakes topped with lots of frosting. Also a huge bowl of jelly beans and chocolate bunnies! May I pour you a cup of tea?

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    3. Ooh, frosting and chocolate are my greatest weaknesses. I never finish a workshop without thinking "I need chocolate" (or "a glass of wine," depending on the time of day). Hmm... :)

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    4. Laurie, I'm so sorry I couldn't do the workshop!! I hate I won't get to see you. Debby, enjoy!

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    5. Well, heck, there's always National in 2019 if you're gonna be there...we'll get to cross paths again one of these days. :)

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  36. Good afternoon, Laurie! The more I write, the more I enjoy the psychology of our characters. I'm just delving into a new idea, so I'm still exploring my people. Your book looks really helpful. I'm going to go look it up!

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    1. Meghan, talk about great timing -- as several writers have mentioned, it helps a lot to have the characters' psychology in mind while still exploring the idea of a book rather than when it's already halfway written. Knowing up front what drives them is such a great way of knowing what'll create problems for them, not to mention how that'll create problems for other people in the story as well.

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    2. Good luck with the new story, Meghan!

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  37. My current writing project is completely deranged, but the main character's fatal flaw is easy to spot: he's loyal. He is unfailing loyal to the sorcerous master who (he thinks) created him.

    It's a laudable quality, of course. Except in this case, it's a large part of what keeps him trapped.

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    1. Michael, what a terrific example of strength-turned-weakness...this loyal hero is heading for all kinds of trouble. And I'll bet, knowing you, he has SOME slightly selfish motivation wrapped into his loyalty so he's not just a helpless victim of good behavior...maybe he's lazy about examining his values, or proud of his steadfastness, or afraid of seeing any uncomfortable truth, or whatever. All kinds of cool possibilities for this guy!

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    2. Michael, thanks for sharing your example. Laurie, I love how you've tied that into your Plot Via Motivation class! :)

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    3. Yeah, Michael's a PVM veteran...I've been enjoying his writing for a long time!

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  38. Cool post. Going to have to go back over it to understand more. Unfortunately, I have to get back to work. Did want to comment though... you've given me good food for thought for understanding my characters better.
    Will have to check out your book. Thanks for sharing!!!

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    1. Deb, isn't it annoying when work gets in the way of important things like writing? But good for you on making time to stop by and comment besides...if you want to dive deeper into enneagrams next time you get a break, I noticed a couple of other posts on the topic in that column of links over on the right. Handy stuff. :)

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    2. Deb, thanks for stopping by! Hope the rest of your day goes well.

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  39. When I first started writing, my characters were perfect, and I never caused them injury or pain. Are you laughing? You should be! :)

    Then I shot my hero and realized how much fun it was to have him suffer. The heroine had to tend his wounds. He was vulnerable. So was she. Everything became much more difficult for them and more exciting for me! :)

    Now I injure my heroes and heroines. Plus, they're always flawed. :)

    Hugs!

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    1. Hmm, what better way to end this round of comments than with a resounding "Hurray for Debby making those characters SUFFER!"

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    2. Debby, your comment made me think of Dr. Evil's "maniacal laugh." https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7edeOEuXdMU&list=RDJfUM5xHUY4M&index=2

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    3. LOL, Debby! Yeah, Josee is right. ha!

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    4. Haha! Go, Debby! (So not what I would expect Debby Giusti to say! LOL!)

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  40. Hi Laurie,
    This person is the heroine and she always believes she can make things right. I couldn't seem to find a word for this trait that sums it up more succinctly (this is her positive side) but it also makes her meddling (negative side)

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    1. Janet, it sounds like this heroine combines the good & bad traits of both the Reformer and the Nurturer. Assuming she wants to make things right for other people, she genuinely CARES about their well-being...but at the same time she's valuing herself and her own beliefs more highly than what they might actually need or want. Even though she's a meddler, though, we can assume she sincerely wants life to be better for everyone she cares about, which might very well be every human being on earth!

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    2. Janet Ch, thanks for sharing your example. It's interesting to see a combination of character type.

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  41. Laurie, This is a fascinating way to look at characters. I'm so enjoying seeing how far I can go with their fatal flaw. Thanks so much for these insights!

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  42. This comment has been removed by the author.

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    1. Nan, I typed my original reply to you in the slot for Janet; hence the deletion. (I didn't want you to think your comment was the kind that needed censoring. :) And you're very right about the excitement of seeing how far a flaw can actually go -- for most characters, it's amazing how badly they can mess things up while still being fundamentally decent people. Then of course, there are always those few exceptions who AREN'T fundamentally decent people, in which case it's just fine for the flaw to actually be fatal. Mwa-ha-ha.

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  43. I'll be back in a bit! I was about to check in the blog but my daughter just called and wants to practice her presentation before she has to do it in class today. :)

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  44. Okay, the run-through went well. :)

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  45. Great post, Laurie! As a reader, I enjoy well developed characters.

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    1. Caryl, you're sure not alone -- writers tend to enjoy them as well. Maybe because we're all readers first, although there probably are toddlers making up stories long before they learn how to read...for that matter, it'd probably be equally valid to say we're all viewers or listeners first, since people have enjoyed seeing or hearing stories unfold since the earliest times. But the advantage to stories about characters instead of stories about our neighbors is that in fiction we're guaranteed a satisfying ending!

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    2. Thanks for dropping by, Caryl!

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  46. Hey, Laurie, WELCOME BACK TO SEEKERVILLE, and what an intriguing post! LOL ... at first glance, I thought you were talking about the seven deadly sins, until I saw there were nine!

    You said: "and even in fiction, we don't generally want our characters dropping dead in Chapter Two."

    Well, not unless we're Mary Connealy, of course!! ;)

    You asked: "In a character you’re reading or writing about now, can you spot some trait with good & bad qualities as two sides of the same coin? Who is this person, and what's their trait?"

    I read that question and IMMEDIATELY thought of one of my favorite James Dobson stories. A woman was complaining to James Dobson on one of his call-in shows, saying she loved everything about her husband but one fatal flaw. Every night when she came into bed, he'd ask her if she locked the doors, and it always made her mad because she ALWAYS locked the doors, but he had a way of making her feel like he didn't trust her.

    So James Dobson asked her what her husband did for a living, and she said he was the comptroller for a large organization. "Well, there you have it," he said, "the two-sided coin. The very trait that irritates you about your husband is also the trait that makes him so good at his job and the reason he has risen in the ranks and provides so well for you and your family.

    I never forgot that moral, that there's a flip side to every personality, and we have to be patient and understanding with those traits manifested on the flip side of the traits we love.

    For instance, I'm an emotional CDQ (caffeinated drama queen), but the flip side to that is I cry very easily and can get blue more than I like, so my hubby has learned how to live with both and what to do to help me conquer those negative traits like my characters eventually do. :)

    Hugs!!
    Julie


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    1. Julie, your instinct about seven deadly sins was right on target! Did you notice that, except for deception and fear (which enneagram theorists added to reach a total of nine) the fatal flaws actually ARE the seven deadlies? (Which reminds me of something intriguing about nationalities: usually during a live workshop, I ask people to name whicehver of the seven they can. Americans tend to call out a few and then falter, but the British and Canadian writers can identify all seven pow-pow-pow. Go figure.)

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    2. I had noticed the 7 deadly sins, too. So interesting, Laurie, about how Canadians can identify all seven.

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    3. Julie, that's so true! We can definitely see it in play in our spouses (and selves if we take an honest look). :)

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  47. Julie, your instinct about seven deadly sins was right on target! Did you notice that, except for deception and fear (which enneagram theorists added to reach a total of nine) the fatal flaws actually ARE the seven deadlies? (Which reminds me of something intriguing about nationalities: usually during a live workshop, I ask people to name whicehver of the seven they can. Americans tend to call out a few and then falter, but the British and Canadian writers can identify all seven pow-pow-pow. Go figure.)

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  48. Laurie, I always have to pause when I see that "big word". I want to say it with an "E" instead of an "A".

    I'm with Missy, Deboradale, Carol, and the few others who hate to torture their h/h. Sometimes, I have to dig really deep to develop a thick skin, to think of a flaw and then apply it. What # does that make me?

    I need to go back and read my class notes, and then just think about it. It would certainly help propel me toward finishing the book I started when I took your class. Maybe the chocolate rinsed down with plenty of wine would help?

    Marcia

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    1. Marcia, the best way to find out is to try it! Heck, in your part of the world it should be easy to find both...I wish I could join you for 'em. :) As for developing the thick skin, try thinking of those poor readers who don't have any hope that anyone can ever grow & learn & change -- you'll be doing them an enormous favor by showing 'em they really CAN!

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    2. That's a good way to look at what Marcia said, Laurie! We're doing them a FAVOR! :)

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    3. Laurie, I forgot to mention I would like to be in the drawing for your book.I need all the help I can get!

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    4. Marcia, I'm not exactly sure when the drawing will happen, but the Seekerville folks will post a winner this weekend. Fingers crossed...

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  49. I love your posts, Laurie. They seem to arrive at crucial times for me.
    Reading your post allowed me to identify that my current character has a mix of Pride and Fear. He's the one people depend on, he's always ready to take the enemy out, to protect his brothers-in-arms. He's taken that role so seriously that the idea of being replaced, of losing his place in the team terrifies him. So much so that it sends him on a downward spiral. I need to re-read your book and refresh my enneagram knowledge. :)

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    1. Chris, I can't wait to see what type you come up with for this guy...he sounds like a great caduo hero already. When you think about his style of behavior in other situations, that might offer a clue to whether he's more driven by the desire to excel or the desire to protect others -- I'm kind of leaning toward Three right now, but could be way off base. So let me know what you decide; I'm curious!

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    2. Chris, thanks for sharing your example. It's fun to read Laurie's feedback.

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  50. Great information. Definitely a keeper post. I've been too nice to my characters. Now they must suffer. Alas.... Please put my name in the drawing. Thanks for a great post.

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    1. Haha, Bettie! I'm glad we made you mean today. :)

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    2. Bettie, I'm so glad this is a keeper -- that's lovely to hear, thank you! Here's wishing you luck being mean to your characters...for what it's worth, most of the time they'll just be being mean to themselves rather than to millions of innocent puppies all over the world. I figure if you're writing villains who are mean to puppies, all bets are off. :)

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  51. Laurie, I'll be in your class this Saturday at Georgia Romance Writers. Will you be going over this in more detail?

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    1. Have fun, Walt! I'm so sorry I can't join y'all.

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    2. Walt, how cool -- I'm glad I'll get to meet you in person! And, shoot, I'm sorry to report that we won't be doing anything on enneagrams per se, but we'll definitely get into how characters get themselves into trouble based on their own motivation...so you'll be able to plug in everything you've learned here when we dive into the worksheets on Saturday. (If you think of any questions between now and then, though, feel free to ask 'em during a Q&A period.)

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  52. I think I'm finally (finally, finally) getting the hang of good/bad flaws as a writer. In one story, the hero's visions of what the town can be -- and his hard work -- lead to advancements for the town. But he is increasingly impatient with (what he sees as) the lack of vision of other townspeople. Impatience that alienates the very allies he needs. The heroine is so generous that her own finances and well-being are threatened.

    In a different story, the hero desperately wants to establish law and order in his town. Unfortunately, he keeps stepping in to diffuse situations he thinks exist (but which don't) because he doesn't have all the facts. He is the one creating the disorder. That story is a comedy. Hopefully :-)

    Please enter me in the drawing for your Believable Characters book.

    Thank you for such a helpful post, Laurie!

    Nancy C

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    1. Nancy, you absolutely ARE getting the hang of good/bad flaws -- as evidenced by how all three of those characters come up against problems which are created by them taking their strong points just a bit too far. And it's great that one is a comedy, because flaws can be every bit as funny / entertaining as they can be poignant / devastating. Nice to have such a versatile tool on hand, isn't it?

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    2. Nancy, that cop story (assuming he's a cop who wants law and order) sounds so fun!

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  53. Hi, Laurie! Along with Walt and some others, I am very excited about this weekend. I started my current book, on the last round of rewrite edits, in one of your classes last year. So for the anneagrams, I think my hero is practicing deception as he creates a facade behind a series of successful business turnarounds so no one finds out his internal failures, and he has to find out how he has to let people in on his secret because in the words of Clarence from It's a Wonderful Life, no man is a failure who has friends. Thank you for the post. Flaws lead to internal conflict, which I absolutely struggle with, so any help about how to work some of that out in the planning stages is greatly appreciated.

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    1. Tanya, I'm so excited about meeting four people from today's posts in only a few more days! And I'm excited about you getting new insights on how to work those fatal flaws into the early planning stages...it sounds like you're already well on track with the successful-business hero. So on Saturday you can work with him OR with a whole new character, whichever you prefer.

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    2. Tanya, it sounds like you have a good handle on your guy. Enjoy Saturday! I wish I could be there.

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  54. Hi, Laurie. A great post, as usual. My current hero is a type 5: His ability to focus and ignore outside things has helped him earn a great nest egg for starting a family, but it makes him less enthusiastic about sharing time for courtship or for after he marries. Thanks for reminding me that in the context of enneagrams, envy--my heroine's flaw--is not just envy of what others have but envy of what she dreams of having but hasn't gained. Her flair for the dramatic has helped her to build dreams based on what she and the hero have in common, but when things go wrong in their new house, instead of going as smoothly and cozily as she envisioned, she has sunk into despair. Now to get the two of them out of the mess they've made. I'm surer about his next move than hers. And to everyone else, I can tell you how helpful the book and class have been: I like that enneagram theory recognizes our varied dimensions (each ersonality has a strength and flaw, as well as connecting to other personality types) and that it uses ordinary language that is easy to understand.

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    1. Varina, I'm so glad you're finding the book and class helpful after all these years and all these characters -- that's great to hear! And you've done a fabulous job of setting up the strength/weakness combination for both your hero and heroine here; they have the advantage of Four & Five being each other's wings but the disadvantage of rarely stepping into the other one's viewpoint because it's SO contrary to their own. Once they do, though, it'll be an incredibly enriching experience for each of them...him seeing beyond "just the facts," and her gaining a bigger-picture perspective, will be lovely triumphs.

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    2. Varina, I'm so glad you stopped by!

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  55. Hi Laurie. Sorry, I am late to the party but here I am. I am reading a fictional book about Kasturba, Gandhi's illiterate wife who was overshadowed by the towering personality of her well known husband, the great crusader of non-violence. The book reveals the great man's flaws, as seen by his wife (The Secret Diary of Kasturba). And it makes such compelling reading because Gandhi was not a perfect human being and one of his fatal flaws was Lust.

    Thanks again for your wonderful post and a refresher on the Nine Flaws!
    Adite

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    1. Adite, you always have such great recommendations -- I remember reading about Rani Lakshmibai and loving that story, so now I'm going to look for this one as well. And isn't it fascinating to see real-life people who have the same strength-weakness pairs as those in our books? It proves these fictional characters aren't just fantasy...they're doing the exact same kind of things actual people do!

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    2. Adite, we're glad you dropped by and shared about that book.

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    3. So glad to be here, Laurie, Missy! :)

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  56. Wow, this post was really interesting. I love the thought of the good and bad attributes being two sides of the same coin. I know Pride and Prejudice definitely showed some interesting views on good/bad prides. And I know I have one hero who takes noble a bit too far, which frustrates the heroine... who is a free spirit to the extreme.

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    1. Boo, it's fun imagining the type of hero who'll frustrate a free-spirit heroine -- not to mention the type of heroine who'll frustrate a bit-too-noble hero. Talk about a great example of traits that can be very attractive becoming just a little less attractive when taken to (what someone else sees as being) extremes.

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  57. Hi Laurie, In "Game of Thrones" Jaime is ruthless to his enemies but merciful to those he loves.
    Jan

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    1. Janet, that could easily be a two-sides-of-the-same-coin trait. Rightly or wrongly, re figures he's got the power to decide the fate of others, and whether he's ruthless or merciful is entirely up to him. It'd be interesting to see if he applies the same standards of justice to friends and enemies alike, although my guess is he probably doesn't -- if he DOES, that's a very heroic quality!

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