jealousy is a lonely feeling
it’s wriggly like worms
and possessive like a bad crush
i never want this part
it seems to love me though
i suppose it’s good to be loved
to be selectively honest
and kind in secret
it must be better to be alone
in your brain than your body
to be jealous of deserving
to keep it close to your blue heart
instead of throwing stones
you can’t get back later
it’s the mortifying ordeal
of being known
that i fear i will never understand
One in a Million
I want a character that decimates themselves on the regular. Someone who hangs out with the wrong crowd, family issues like dynamite, exploding with the slightest amount of stimulation. I want a character that knows how it feels to be told they aren't enough and takes the midnight train just to feel the rush.
I want a character that's real, raw, too much. Reacting inappropriately to trauma. Smoking cigarettes in the "no smoking" section. Reading and internalizing drama.
There's an unpopular book out there, called "A Million Little Pieces." In it, the protagonist details the reality of overcoming drug and alcohol addiction. The language is terse; the writing does not use quotation marks (for the most part), and makes the reader (at least me) feel disconnected from the main character.
But that's exactly how the protagonist wants you to feel.
Like he doesn't care what you think about him. But he DOES.
He's struggling to come to terms with the fact that he matters.
Character flaws are an important part of any character. It makes them human. I like the ones that are seemingly awful people, reach for a bottle of alcohol when the going gets tough, laughs at other people to cover up their feelings about themselves.
Covering it up with terse language, self-hatred.
The best part is when they get better - and that's what I read for, ultimately. The recovery, the graduation, the marriage. It's satisfying to know that in the real world, I could hypothetically aim for those things, too.
I want damaged because that's how I feel and I want to relate to a character.
I want to see them grow, get better, make the most of god awful situations.
The Bad Guy
We all love our main characters. What about the bad guy? Is he or she just about moving the plot of the story along, or are they the central theme of the story? Do they bring out the weaknesses and strengths of our main characters? What would our tales be like without them?
That is an easy question to answer. Our stories would be dried up, mathematical equations of who-dun-its, or colorless adventures that no one would bother reading. We can tell a story without a villain. But can we show a story without them? No.
The literary axe-murderer or evil seducer is necessary to highlight our main character's humanity. How they react to the demon's call and the magnetic pull of evil portrayed by our contrasting characters brings interest and depth to our hero or heroine. You cannot have good without evil. Bad brings good out of the shadows and creates conflict and tension.
I have a favorite bad guy named Jake. Jake is a charming, handsome, womanizer who will do anything to convince a woman he can't live without her. He will pursue the most saintly woman and turn her into his own personal whore just to see if he can. Jake is married, has another side-chick and pursues my main character to the gates of Hell and back. There is more to this fellow than his evil intentions though. There always is. Hurt people hurt people, is the saying that represents this man.
His need to sexually conquer women comes from a deep seated fear of being used and discarded. So he must be the one doing the using and tossing. My main character is so accustomed to being used and discarded that Jake's personality is simply another challenge that she must rise to. She works harder every time Jake presents her with another obstacle to obtaining his love for herself. She twists and turns with his moods to be there for him, while he makes frequent trips to see his wife and side-chick.
She surprises him with her tenacity and her endurance in taking his abuse and she pulls him in, despite himself. We see all sides of the main character, as she navigates this mine-field love affair. In the end she decides this man is simply not worth it and surprises everyone by discarding him. Without this evil character, our heroine would not have grown. The story would have been wooden and empty. Simply a tale of someone traveling from here to yon with no color, no conflict, no sexual or emotional energy.
The villain makes the story.
Gum & Candy
It was one of those moments where the world stops.
Her smile is the glimmer of a ghost and I'm the one haunted. I catch sight of it, fleeting, and she leans towards me with eyes locked on mine. Our noses almost touch, and she reaches up with a single finger, tracing along my lips. Weary lids close and she inhales deeply.
"What kind of gum is that?" She whispers, and I'm caught short in a surreal moment. I didn't expect her to speak at all, and that question was never what I would predict, should she say anything.
She leans closer, and the kiss is something we both will into existence. Our tongues touch nervously. The last time we did this, MTV regularly showed music videos.
Some memories step back into reality with little coaxing, and our kiss grows from a tentative, beautiful thing into a monster of barely restrained passion. Suddenly we can't breathe enough of one another, and need stretches beyond reason.
One of my hands find the back of her neck and hers pull me closer. I feel her lipstick stain my mouth and I don't care; we are all, we are enough.
I pause, gasping, and pull away. Our foreheads rest against one another, and we stare into the past. She grasps my forearms and laughs quietly.
"Wow," she grins.
"Yeah," I agree.
"To be continued?" she whispers.
I smile sadly and look down at her dress. "When you get back from your trip, sure."
Self-consciously, she smooths her bodice and reaches for the lipstick on the dressing table. Makeup reapplied, she looks at me in the mirror's reflection.
"I haven't had Juicy Fruit in forever," she smirks while she chews.
I laugh, and step out of the bridal suite and find my seat on her side of the aisle.
I'm pretty sure she popped my gum on the march out of the church after she said I do.
One of my favorite characters to read about are perfectionists. When a character is so driven by their need to make sure everything is in order and “perfect” that it ultimately becomes their downfall. Watching a character struggle with the reality of their actions and find that they have no one to blame but themselves humanizes them and allows many readers to relate. This character flaw can also create interesting relationships as it can drive others away or cause conflict easily.
Giving a character their “character”
I feel like there are a million character flaws or undesirable traits out there, but what really brings a character's flaws to light for me is when they're faced with a particular challenge and are forced to feel something. It's how selfishness grows into narcissism, and envy turns to jealousy and hate.
When writers place emotional weight on a character, it always makes them so relatable, in my opinion. What is life without burdens? What moves us like anxiety? What puts a fire in a character's eyes like pressure?
It's what gives a character their "character."
How do they react to life's obstacles, how does it affect their journey, and what will come from it?
Will they make a wrong decision early, but learn a life lesson that reshapes the way they see the world? Or maybe they'll continue their behavior until they experience significant trauma.
Chameleon on a Leash
I'm too fucking nice
I'll let you screw me over twice
I'll give my ex the link to my inner mind
I'll smile at vice
I'm too fucking nice
Can I just be
Anyone but me
Look at me
Asking for permission
Before I make a decision
Too fucking nice
I can be a bitch
But the pain that has to remake me
He says he wants me
Just the way I am
But I'm always smiling
Even though on the inside
If I could only free
That inner bitch
Turn down that smile
Pump me full of sorrow
Take me out tomorrow
Before I die hollow
Show you my darkness
That I swallow...
Don't know why you got me when you want a bitch
Maybe it's that optimist
In your closet.
First of all, pride is the pinnacle and the cause of every other sin. So a complete character would have a self-centered streak as an automatic checked box and you can choose a myriad of other weaknesses to supplement and be fed by the said pride, i.e. self centeredness.
Another thing you absolutely must have is a weakness for what they want, the sort of 'I want' tilt that everybody has, deep where nobody can see. That and emotions often seem to be stronger and tries overrule reason, which also goes for anybody.
Those are basic rules that are 'automatic checkboxes' if this were a 'choose some flaws below' type of thing. Anything else is non essential and particular to the character.
I dunno, my favorite villain type is the one who's seductive, charming, attractive, and unnervingly knows your weaknesses, and every move you take he can corner you. Somebody like Annatar from the Silmarillion.
A character flaw that lots of people have, is apathy, or selfishness. That is my favorite flaw. Having no care for others. If the character is selfish at times, without realization, that is vital to the reader's entertainment. They want to see how good a person could be, and then they want to know the ugly of the character.
If the character is in a relationship, they could selfishly throw themselves into danger, thinking they are being important to a cause. You want to see their effect on others. You want to know why they are like that, and how it affects relationships, and difficult situations.