Sunday, July 30, 2006

I'm a wuss or good characters are flawed

I’m a wuss.

To celebrate the last day of summer vacation, we went to the Hawaii State Farm Fair today and rode all the rides. Okay, most of the rides. And “we” didn’t really include me. I’m a wuss. I’m afraid of heights. I don’t like things that drop me and I won’t go near a roller coaster. Now I’m also a Mom, which meant that I climbed to the top of the Super Slide twice. If I had to guess how high that was, I’d say second story maybe or a little bit more. Climbing up the rickety stairs and standing on the swaying top was an exercise in controlled breathing and near-panic.

As is often the case with writers, I immediately translated my experience into story material. A good protagonist/hero is flawed and what better flaw than a fear?

Since I’m afraid of heights, I think one of my protagonists ought to be afraid of heights as well. Probably not Mason. The guy was an Army Ranger. I think a fear of heights would have seriously handicapped the man. And while I’m all for working through fears, I don’t think it’s realistic where someone’s job is concerned. Point to the contrary: my brother is afraid of heights as well and he was a paratrooper for a while!

I will probably settle Soren with a fear of heights. I doubt it will come up often, but you never know. I have already decided, though, that Soren doesn’t like firearms. In fact, his experience in THE PROTECTOR left him with nightmares that will reoccur in THE GHOST CRAB. This is a bit of conflict material. He lives on a boat with a guy who owns at least two handguns, and Mason would insist Soren know how to handle those guns for his own safety.

It’s not like Mason is without flaws. The man is so calm and controlled, I had to give him a temper issue. THE GHOST CRAB is all about Mason’s temper. I love chapter 1, because I think I snuck it in there nicely. I like chapter 3, because it becomes obvious what can happen when he loses his temper, his cool.

Anyone read chapter 1 or 3?

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