C – Characterization

My A to Z Challenge theme is teaching you how not to write a book, or a short story, or any piece of creative writing whatsoever. For more information, including links to previous chapters and lessons, please refer to this post. Now buckle in and proceed with…

THE WORST ROMANCE NOVEL EVER WRITTEN IN 26 DAYS.


PANDORA’S TACKLEBOX

Billionaire Highlander cowboy Hawk MacHardcastle is tired of living the jetset life of champagne, bucking broncos, kilts, fast cars, and burning bundles of cash for warmth. Desperate to find meaning in his life, he retires to his family’s isolated cabin in the wilds of New Jersey, on the shores of majestic Lake Latrine.

There, Hawk plans on self-reflection and pursuing the great love of his life—fishing. However, Hawk’s self-imposed loneliness comes to an end when he makes a most unusual companion and fishing buddy.

Dropsy Velvet was once a young woman living on the shores of Lake Latrine with her settler family. However, a curse turned her into a mermaid and now she lives, sad and alone, in the depths of the lake. She hasn’t had human contact for close to fifty years, thanks to everyone either being terrified of her or thinking they’re drunk when they see her—but Hawk may be the connection to the world she’s been craving. Charmed by her innocent face, sparkling wit, and huge bare breasts, Hawk decides to help her find a way to lift the curse, as she will lift his: the curse of ennui and affluenza. But time is running out, for something sinister wants to flush Latrine away forever.


Characterization

Hawk was just about to cast his line out, when a faint ripple in the water caught his ultra-keen attention. His parents had named him Hawk, after all, because of his nearly inhuman eyesight that was evident even at birth. He caught the little details other people missed in everyday life. That’s why he’d created MacHardcastle Feminine Products—he could tell by the way women walked when they were on their periods, and he wanted to offer them a product that disguised their unsightly time of the month.

“Is that damn shark back?” Hawk stood, clutching his rod. “Maybe he wants some more of these mighty fists.”

Instead, something else rose from the water, inch by inch—first, a shimmering head of golden wet hair, like gilded seaweed. Next, the face of a goddess, with crystalline blue eyes and red Cupid’s-bow lips. After that, a svelte pale torso that seemed to be carved from alabaster, graced with two huge, bare, buoyant breasts. Hawk was mesmerized—never in his life had he seen firmer, rounder, more succulent, delicious, tempting…eyes. For a moment he thought it was a skinny dipper, and then a great blue and green fish tail flopped in the water behind her.

She giggled, the sound of it like music on the warm breeze. “Hello, stranger.” Her voice rang like a clear bell at dawn. “I’m Dropsy Velvet, the Latrine mermaid. I can be your catch of the day, if you like.”


WHAT THE HELL HAPPENED HERE?

Have you ever met a perfect human being in real life? I mean, one that is physically, mentally, morally perfect, who saves orphans from burning buildings while composing magnificent operas and lifting weights while eating only healthy, organic food? And this person is also funny, brilliant, charming, and a Nobel Peace Prize winner? No? Would you even want to know someone like that? Flawless people don’t exist in real life and they shouldn’t exist in fiction either, because they have the same effect—they make you groan and roll your eyes.

Characters shouldn’t be perfect. It’s their flaws that help us connect with them, that make them real people–their struggles, the things they’ve overcome, the blessings they’ve done without but made their way in life anyway. Think of your best friend, your mother, your own child—do you love them for the things they can do, or the things they’ve done despite the obstacles they face? Courage and growth is much more interesting than just being crowned with greatness. The characters we connect with are the ones we identify with and admire for their struggles, just like people in reality. Life is hard and it sucks. No one is majestic and flawless, not even your favorite celebrities—that’s just makeup and stage lighting.

When two perfect people meet in a book it’s not a story, it’s author wish-fulfillment.

50 thoughts on “C – Characterization

  1. Hahaha I laughed so hard at “MacHardcastle Feminine Products”. Oh lord. And nope, I wouldn’t want to know someone who was perfect. //fellow challenger

    Like

    1. LOL I’m glad you got a laugh out of that! Isn’t he just the best?

      Like

  2. It is evident Mr McHardcastle has issues, faults and flaws. With this information overload, (dare I say it?), it is almost possible to predict his reaction … That is, until he opens his mouth!
    He appears to be typically male, thinking with the brains that he sits upon.
    Does he possess a hint of romanticism? (He might compare the girl’s attributes to his passion for detailed saddle leather, but at least there would be some hope for him, no?).

    Sir Leprechaunrabbit 🍀🐰
    @leprchaunrabbit
    yourrootsareshowingdearie.wordpress.com

    Like

    1. Oh, he certainly has flaws! Just not the ones he realizes. 😀 He would call himself a romantic in his own mind…the women he tries to woo, I’m not so sure!

      Thank you so much!

      Liked by 1 person

  3. That’s some super power he has for women! LMAO!

    ~Ninja Minion Patricia Lynne aka Patricia Josephine~
    Story Dam
    Patricia Lynne, Indie Author

    Like

    1. Hawk is a god amongst men. 😉

      Thank you!

      Like

  4. Very amusing post and I will go back through my stories and look at some of my characters that I suspect are too perfect.

    Josefine from
    Getting to the end

    Like

    1. Thank you! I’m glad you’re enjoying it!

      Like

  5. I think the urge to create perfect characters comes from the desire that the author wants to be perfect. Great tip to not do that 🙂 good one for C.

    Like

    1. I totally agree. But then we forget how annoying that can be to the readers. Characters need some balance.

      Thanks for stopping by!

      Liked by 1 person

  6. We root for flawed characters because character flaws help us celebrate our own imperfections.
    Keep up the awesome/awfulness! I am learning so much. You are a fantastic writer. Only a talented writer can expertly teach others how not to write!

    Like

    1. Thank you so much! I’m so glad you’re enjoying it and getting a laugh out of it! Thanks for stopping by.

      Like

  7. You had me gasping at “even at birth.” So funny. But also, you’re giving great examples. Well done.

    Like

    1. I’m so glad someone caught that! 😀 I don’t even know what it means, I just thought it would be funny.

      Like

  8. Any guy who can tell by the way I walk that I have my period is clearly watching the wrong place when I’m walking.

    Great and hilarious example yet again.

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    1. Hahaha, you’ve never met Hawk MacHardcastle, Highlander billionaire cowboy! 😉

      Like

  9. A character with flaws is so much more interesting. A perfect character is way too boring. I don’t like reading about a character that is so perfect it’s unattainable in real life!

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    1. I agree! I would rather read characters like…people!

      Thanks for stopping by!

      Like

  10. OMG. That is one sexy hero–NOT! Love this!

    Like

  11. What? You mean that perfect characters aren’t charing? Relatable? Involving? You mean readers don’t care about them and actually they become annoyed with them at a lightning speed?
    You can’t be serious! This can’t be!!!!
    NOOOOOOO!!!!!

    @JazzFeathers
    The Old Shelter – Jazz Age Jazz

    Like

    1. Hahaha! I’m so sorry to break the news to you. 😉

      Liked by 1 person

  12. So true. No character is perfect, not even humans.
    Shalom,
    Patricia @ EverythingMustChange

    Like

    1. Very true! Thanks for stopping by!

      Like

  13. For a moment I thought it was going to be one of those cliché scenes where the main character looks into a mirror and describes themselves in minute detail 😀

    @TarkabarkaHolgy from
    The Multicolored Diary
    MopDog

    Like

    1. Hahaha, dang, a missed opportunity. I should have put that in there!

      Like

  14. “Cupid’s-bow lips”…yes! Classic romance description that got overused in its heyday and yet still seems to be with us. And I love the description leading up to her…eyes. 🙂 You’re doing an amazing job! (Maybe you should actually write satire? You have a great talent for it.)

    Andrea Lundgren
    Into the Writerlea Blog

    Like

    1. Perhaps I’ve found my real calling! 😉 Let’s not all get mesmerized by Dropsy’s…eyes.

      Thanks for stopping by!

      Like

  15. I am really enjoying your story, it is so cringe-worthy and just an excellent example of what not to do – well done, that takes skill!
    Sophie
    Sophie’s Thoughts & Fumbles | Wittegen Press | FB3X

    Liked by 1 person

  16. It’s a strange truth, but we writers can learn a lot more from bad writing than good writing.

    Like

    1. I’m glad I’m helping you all learn something!

      Liked by 1 person

  17. MacHardcastle Feminine Products, huh? LOL!

    ~~~~

    My male characters are physically hot because that’s part of the fantasy. I don’t want to write about some average looking guy I can just see at the Walmart or the post office. That’s not why I write sexy romances. That said, my male characters may be physically hot, but they have inner flaws. They aren’t perfect people. Maybe they have issues with their personality that they need to fix. Or maybe they fall for the wrong women. The next character I’m writing about is physically hot, but he’s a criminal. So he’s certainly not perfect.

    Piper Presley
    C is for Coming in Hot: A Squad of Sexy Firefighter Romances Multi-Author Boxed Set
    http://www.presleyromance.com/blog/coming-in-hot-blogging-from-a-to-z-challenge

    Like

    1. I totally understand that. Most romance novels are for fantasy anyway, and I certainly write my heroes ‘hot’ too, or at least, hot to their love interest. But pretty people have imperfections too, and that’s where the real meat of the story comes in. I definitely agree with all of your points.

      Thanks for stopping by!

      Like

  18. Brilliant post. Pretty sure I’m not guilty of this crime.
    Fran
    @FranClarkAuthor
    Writing Women’s Fiction

    Like

    1. Thank you! And that’s a good thing!

      Like

  19. The worst is when the author tells us about how perfect they are, and then gives one imperfection that is charming instead of detracting.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Ugh yes, the likable imperfection that really isn’t an imperfection at all!

      Like

  20. This story is cracking me up. It might be the worst romance novel ever written, but it sure is one of the funniest! On the flipside, I wonder if you can give your characters too many flaws and make them seem unbelievable in that way?

    Cheers – Ellen | http://thecynicalsailor.blogspot.co.nz/2016/04/c-is-for-catamaran-nancy-drew.html

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I’m glad you’re enjoying it! And I’m sure that could happen. No one would want to read about a completely irredeemable character, I don’t think. They need something to make them likable.

      Thanks for stopping by!

      Like

  21. Oh-oh. Some minor changes needed to one of my characters, I think. More un-perfectness required. I’m pretty sure that isn’t a word, but hey, you know what I mean.

    Like

    1. Hey, sometimes characters ‘seem’ perfect but really aren’t. I like finding out why they aren’t.

      Liked by 1 person

  22. Yes, perfect alludes to fairy tale, until the wicked protagonist arrives~ I love your theme~

    Like

  23. Darryl Hannah in the movie Splash? 🙂
    Writer In Transit

    Like

    1. Hahaha I didn’t even think of that! It’s been years! 😀

      Like

  24. Very true! Depending on PoV I think some characters can be perceived to be perfect, but the fun part is always finding out why they’re not.
    Tasha
    Tasha’s Thinkings | Wittegen Press | FB3X (AC)

    Like

    1. Yes, I actually love when a character ‘seems’ perfect but then we find out later it’s all a show because they’re hiding something.

      Thanks for stopping by!

      Liked by 1 person

  25. Superb ..Love the way you build up anticipation and then ..! Amazingly written, cant stop laughing ! Love your tips on characterisation, makeup and stage lighting. Thats what characters are ! Waiting for D now, hope you pay a visit to mine , would be delighted to hear your feedback on my posts.

    @Subhmohanty from
    And Life Unfolds…
    A to Z Challenge 2016
    A*Alone
    B*Butterfly
    C*Curry

    Like

    1. Yes, it’s quite true. No one is perfect! Thanks so much for stopping by, I’m glad you’re enjoying it!

      Like

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