Hey, goody two-shoes, are you ready to show us your bad side? Your book needs to get greedy and a whole lot more. This is the reason why:
We’re hung up on normal. Too much attention is paid to perfection. Imagine a book that just featured “perfect” characters with no flaws or failures. No one would read more than the first 10 pages. Two pages at most. Maybe.
How to write those first 10-grabbing pages? Create characters that suck up the seven deadly sins. Then make them good again. Or don’t. The choice is yours.
Our character’s transgressions might not be admirable as a result of their sins but it makes them, and the first 10 pages, irresistibly readable.
Mission? Time to inject some sin into your writing. Take your pick:
- This tongue-hanging-out sin, often sexually motivated, gets characters in all sorts of bother. Temptation comes in different shapes and sizes: lusting after your best friend’s girlfriend; frolicking with the married boss; falling head over heels with a perfect stranger.
- Naughtiness and recklessness in a person makes great reading material.
- This is the laziest character in your book. The I-can’t-be-bothered one. It is a great writing prompt: what will it take to motivate them?
- Someone’s been scorned. Someone wants revenge. The character in your book is about to get ugly and we love it!
- In little doses, pride is just fine. Too much pride and there will be trouble. Jane Austen didn’t write a book around it for nothing.
- Read “Pride And Prejudice” and learn.
- We all want what we can’t have. The jealous character in your book makes the storyline significantly more interesting. In a literary situation, we are waiting for a loose cannon to go off.
- Human wants can never be satisfied. We want more, more, more. Most of the time we keep it in check, some of the time we don’t. It’s all about excess and too much of a good thing.
- We want to know what happens next. When is the enough-is-enough moment?
- Gorging, uncontrolled indulging, consuming over and above the norm, this excessive behaviour often hints at underlying problems.
- Is there a hole in your character’s heart that needs to be filled?
The reason the “sins” work so well is because the reader isn’t fooled by filters. Warts-and-all fiction is much more interesting and it always will be. This is because it’s real and truthful.
The truth is, we’re all flawed. We’re all fighting our demons. As we strive to overcome our issues, not be defined by them, we learn and grow. Let your characters do just that.