Tag Archives: character flaws

Worst pick up lines…

Ever been to a bar during happy hour? A ball-game (any kind)? The hot new club that just opened downtown? A concert for your favorite band? The grocery store? The Laundromat? The gym?

See the connection yet? No? Well, they’re all places guys try to pick up girls.

And they’re all places where every girl who’s ever tried to get picked up – and those of us who were just there for the concert/drinks/workout/to do our laundry – have been hit on and have heard some of the world’s worst pick up lines.

Recently I blogged about two of the worst first – and subsequently last– dates I’d ever had. I asked a lot of girls/women/moms/aunts/females while I was writing that blog, what were some of the most God-awful pickup lines they’d ever been tossed. Here are the ones I absolutely loved – and by loved I mean really hated – the most.

  • “Did it hurt when you fell from heaven?”
  • “Wait. I need to get my sunglasses on. You’re beauty is blinding me.”
  • “Nice legs; what time do they open?”
  • Do you have a map? ‘Cause I just got lost in your eyes.
  • Is it hot in here, or is that just you?
  • Somebody better call God, because he’s missing one of his angels
  • Hey, I lost my phone number … will you give me yours?
  • If I told you you had a great body, would you hold it against me?
  • Something’s wrong with my cell phone…your number’s not in it.
  • I will volunteer as tribute for you.  ( I have to admit, this one I like!!)

As a writer, I try to shy away from my characters using cheesy pickup lines except if the character’s personality calls for it. I never want a reader to dislike one of my characters unless – again – my goal is to make them unlikable. And believe me, if any of my male characters said anything like the above, they would be unlikeable.

Pick up lines can be written with humor – or not! They can make you laugh or cringe; giggle or gag. A well written one will stick in your memory. But then again, a bad one will as well.

So. Worst pickup lines you’ve ever heard…let’s discuss….

 

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Filed under Author, Contemporary Romance, Dialogue, Romance, Romance Books

Character flaws

Flaws. We all have them. We wouldn’t be human if we didn’t. Let’s face it: no one is perfect. Our hopeful imaginations can believe we are, or someone else is, but in stark reality, we are all filled with little traits that bring us up short in the perfection department.

I’m loaded – LOADED – with flaws. That is one of the truest statements I have ever written. I don’t have enough free space on the blogosphere to list all my faults and flaws, so I won’t. But this got me to thinking about my characters and their flaws and imperfections. Have I given them enough? Too much? Ones that don’t ring true? My- egads!! – own??

So what is a flaw, really? It can be a physical imperfection, such as, “her snow white beautiful skin was flawed by the one huge wart across her nose;”,  a weakness, as in, “the plan to attack Gettysburg was flawed when the generals didn’t take into consideration the huge number of wounded they’d need to attend to;”  a shortcoming, “he’s a great teacher,  but he doesn’t think ahead.” It can even be a failure: “poor programming flawed the computer game leading to poor sales.”

CHARACTER FLAWS are by definition those flaws that are inherent in the characters you write, or they can be stated as flaws in a person’s makeup – or character, if you will. For my discussion here, I’m calling them those quirks, mannerisms,thoughts and actions that help make my imaginary characters feel more human and real. They are the internal facets of the character’s emotional, spiritual and thought-related makeup.

Perfection is boring. This is true; think about it. What drives a story, whether it is plot or character driven? Conflict. If your characters are perfect – never get mad, always have things work in their favor, everyone on the planet page likes them – then I’m sorry, your story will be snoresville. Big time. No conflict. But…what if your heroine is a sassy, sarcastic-yet-insanely-witty reporter who will do anything to land a story?  She doesn’t let anyone or anything stand in her way. Now, a mega-selling writer moves to her tiny town for peace and quiet and our lovely heroine makes it her unending goal to secure an interview with him. Her doggedness – which really borders on utterly annoying at times  – can be her grace and her flaw, especially since our hero writer wants nothing to do with people, reporters in particular. Our girl can’t give up. Won’t give up. Sees giving up as the end-all of weakness and defeat. She can’t lose out on this interview, she simply can’t. Humble and withdrawn she is not. She will never admit she can lose, it’s just not in her. Until….

Scenario two: our hero is a doctor. His parents were killed in a car crash when he was a teen. A crash he witnessed and lived through since he was sitting and sulking ( as a good little teen does )in the back seat. His parents couldn’t be saved due to the unpreparedness of the emergency team. He vows to never let another survivor go through what he went through and strives to become the best, most intense doctor he can, to the exclusion of everything else in his life.  He is focused, dedicated, arrogant, and unrelenting. Enter our heroine, a free spirited nurse who was raised on a commune, supports alternative methods of medicine, and believes in karma. His character flaw – he can’t ever relent in his pursuit of medical excellence and he spurns and vilifies anyone who doesn’t think the same way as he does, is in direct conflict to the nurse’s stop and let nature take it’s course approach to health care. Both are stubborn, dogged, and unwilling to change their views. Until…. you fill in the rest of the story your way.

One of my basic  flaws has to do with my being such a stubborn a** at times. I will fight to the death even when I KNOW I am wrong about something. It’s just not in me to give up…on anything. Yeah, it’s a real problem. It can be a blessing in disguise sometimes – some very few times! – but mostly it’s just annoying to those around me. I am up for growth, though. And stubborn though I am, I am willing to change.

Just not right now and not when I’m in the middle of an argument.

What flaws and faults have you given your characters and how have you helped them overcome them? Are they believable flaws? Do they serve a purpose to the character and the story? Do they inspire conflict? And if you want to go the physical route, what are their external flaws? Warts? Humps? Lumps and deficits?

Think about perfection. It’s a nice thought, but the reality is, perfection isn’t that great. It’s boring, uninspiring and a one-note. It’s like having nothing but vanilla ice cream the rest of your life. Delicious and lip-licking for a time, but after a while you want a little chocolate.

But flaws, well, that’a whole ‘nother story, isn’t it? And it’s a good story, too.

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Filed under Dialogue

Characters into real People, Part 3

Flaws, habits and idiosyncratic mannerisms. When you see these words do you immediately think of them as negative descriptions? You can, but you shouldn’t, because these are all facets of normal human behavior. And normal human behavior is what you want your characters to exhibit on the page. Unless of course you’re writing about lycans, vampires, or aliens from outer space that don’t exhibit normal human behavior.  And even then, I’m sure those subspecies have their own foibles, et al, indicative of their own, well, species.

Every person is unique, as is every character you develop. One dimensional characters are not fun to read, they are boring. Very boring. Ever notice that in every fairy tale from Sleeping Beauty to Cinderella to Snow White we never get to know the handsome prince who saves our girl from witches, evil stepmothers, and evil stepmothers who are witches? That’s because the storytellers didn’t want the guys’s true natures made known, because they’re perfect. Boringly perfect. Rich – they’re all Princes, after all, of huge kingdoms – handsome – because non attractive guys could never get a girl – and brave – they all slay dragons and fight evil daily. Nothing ever happens after the words And they lived happily ever after. You never hear about the fact that Cinderella now had to cater to her Prince and clean his castle, substituting one kind of indentured servitude for another; or that Snow White’s guy actually liked apples and didn’t want any other fruit brought into the palace – much to her chagrin. Apple pies, apple tarts,  apple butter yadayadyada. She couldn’t get away from them. And don’t get me stared on Sleeping Beauty’s guy and his unnatural predilection for dragons. No, these guys were all one dimensional. They basically had no substance, no occupation, other than to save our princess,  so we never heard about them after they did. ( My apologies to the Grimm Brothers who are probably rolling over in their five hundred year old graves right about now.)

So far I’ve talked about dialogue and speech patterns to try and  make your characters sound believable.  Today, I’ll talk about how to show they’re believable, and this is through they’re behavior.

We all know people who have little habits that drive us crazy. Tooth picking, throat clearing, feet tapping, you name it. I have terrible habits of talking with my hands ( raised in an Irish/Sicilian household- go figure) and for interrupting people. The first is okay. The second is absolutely annoying to people and I know that in my heart and mind, but I’m damned if I can do anything about it. What can your characters do to distinguish themselves, habit-wise, when you write about them? It doesn’t have to an annoying habit, like mine. It can be that your heroine bites her bottom lip when she is nervous, or your alpha male hero dislikes – really dislikes – being told what to do, and flares his nostrils when he is pissed. ( Sounds a little dragon-like, doesn’t it??)

By flaws I don’t mean one eye is smaller than the other ( like me!) but character flaws. Little bits of behavior, thoughts, and actions that tell you this person is not perfect. Far from it. For instance, your heroine is basically a nice person and always volunteers to help others, but just this once she really wishes you wouldn’t ask her to drive the meals on wheels car just because you have a hot date and she doesn’t. Two flaws here by the way : a little jealousy ( she has a date, your character does not) and a little pettiness.

Idiosyncratic mannerisms are little actions  particular to your individual characters that no one else in your story does. Again, I’ll use myself as an example. I check my watch. Often. Sometimes, every minute. This used to really annoy my father-in-law because he said it made it look like I had to be somewhere else and was just biding my time, and also that it was just plain rude. I totally agreed so I stopped wearing a watch. Now I check my phone. Often. Sometimes, every minute. My idiosyncrasy is time. I am consumed with it. No one else in my sphere is time obsessed like I am. I own that one.  Does your character snort when he laughs? Does she play with her hair, unconsciously, all the time? These mannerisms can be used to define your character and give them depth.

And if a character has depth, they are believable, and believable characters come across as Real People.

 

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Filed under Characters, Dialogue