Let’s get one thing straight – I want my heroes flawed. Look at the human race. Strong. Adaptable. Flawed. So why shouldn’t our characters be nicked with bad breath, bed head and nasty sinus coughs? Call them quirks, oddities, habits, whatever. I call it good writing. And with good writing, comes lots of readers.
Nothing is more non-magnetic than reading about a main character’s long flowing locks, strong chin and that little boyish sense of humor. Come on. Where is his drinking problem? What happens if it is a Cialis moment in the subway? He goes to kiss the heroine after a garlic, salmon sandwich?
And how about the heroine? She comes out in her size two dress, with corset no less, flings her silken washed and styled hair over her shoulder, and, somehow finds the time to touch up her lip gloss all while waiting atop a mountain of fire and brimstone, yearning for said hero to come along. All fine and good till she reveals she has a nasty rash that “just won’t go away”.
We want characters we can identify with. Sure, we all want to run off to Fantasy Island and enjoy the view of what has been published perfection up until now. But in the end, we want to read about someone and say “I know that person”.It could be a scrappy kid, replete with burgeoning teen angst. Sure he may have all of the magical powers of a wizard, but he still has no date for the prom.
Man of steel? Only in his hip replacement. Sexy mistress? Of three? Okay, having children is not a flaw. Maybe she still has that nasty rash. You get the picture.
Take the ole cop buddy novel. You know the tale. Two friends grow up together, become cops in the old neighborhood and take on the local mafia. Add the typical dash of comedy, action, danger…all that. It has been done before. Now what if one has a drug problem? All of a sudden your gelatinously common buddy book now has a sharp sprinkle of saffron. Yum, now that’s good reading.
Flaws are what it is to be human. We as writers are slightly skewed. Readers have eccentricities. It is almost reassuring when we find out that the heroes we grew up with had various foibles, phobias and idiosyncrasies. The knight in the shiniest of armor is afraid of heights. The female homicide detective who can’t stand spinach. These are what dreams are made of. A dash of blemishing here and an imperfection there fracture out a story line so that you can write in a million directions if you so choose. Pick any genre and see what happens. Flaws, people. We all have them. We may as well use them.
Born in a small town of the smallest state, Rhode Island Joseph Mazzenga knew he was a writer by the third grade. When his creative simmer turned to an imaginative rage, he embarked on a voyage with no anchor and no horizon. He stepped aboard knowing that this journey will be for the rest of his days. He still looks to the stars to find his way. The navigation can be plodding but the bearing is clear. Joe is now a full author, by way of children’s literature, Science Fiction, Non-fiction, and Urban Fantasy. Ever pursuing the itch that he can’t possibly scratch, he is constantly stretching his boundaries, honing his craft and fighting mortal enemies such as avoidance and procrastination at every turn. Whether it is a beloved stuffed seal, a hard-nosed orphan stuck on the raw streets of a future time, or a pre-apocalyptic vampire turned human, he is fantasy intermingling with the future. Joe continues to live with his wife and beloved son in Rhode Island, center of the creative universe.
Learn more about Joe Mazzenga Below