Wednesday, June 8, 2011


Foibles - We all have them so the characters we create must have them too.

Regardless of the genre of our novels or the themes we pursue, the characters we create are unlikely to be perfectly horrible or perfectly perfect. They will undoubtedly have flaws and depending on the role we are giving them to play, some of these will be major, but even a serial killer can have flashes of humanity.

For those of us who aren't writing about serial killers, the flows in our characters will be more foiblelike, quirks in their personalities, but knowing what they are helps us to emphasise with them as we set them to the task of enacting the plot we have devised. The foibles themselves may not get a mention in the story we are telling but knowing what they are allows us to predict how they will deal with the issues we want them to confront, and the relationships we want them to enter into with each other. if we understand our characters strengths and weaknesses so too will our readers.

Deciding which flaws and foibles to give our characters can be tricky particularly if there is a danger that they will resemble our own family members, the people we work and play with, the neighbours and others with whom we are acquainted. We don't want to be challenged or sued by irate friends and family.

Fortunately people tend to avoid owning to own foibles so they they do not associate themselves with characters who behave as they do. I had a funny experience with the publication of The Liberator's Birthday. I had quite deliberately modelled the publican's wife, a woman who through her husband's good fortune on the goldfields has risen several rungs on the social ladder, on my mother who was a terrible snob. It was with some trepidation that I gave her a copy while I prepared dinner for her one night about the time when the book was first released. It didn't take long before she was in my kitchen declaring that I had 'got that Martha Farrell right!' It seems she was just like my mother's Auntie Jeanie. I took her word for it and we were all happy.

The Liberator's Birthday and Jill's other romantic dramas

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