No, I don’t really hate her. She has the potential to be an interesting character for my novel–for now I’m calling it The Deity Run–but it’s my fault she’s boring with an uppercase B. In the first draft I wrote during National Novel Writing Month, I created a girlfriend for my protagonist, Ferdinand Clark. Her name was Wakana Itō.
The entire time I created my story during NaNoWriMo, I had this nagging feeling Wakana seemed . . . dull. This was all I knew: Wakana played the koto, a Japanese musical instrument. She was really nice. Very smart. She hugged everyone. She was a positive and encouraging person. Ferdinand loved her because of these traits.
While in real life, Wakana would be a real catch for any guy, in the world of fiction, she’d be too perfect. And perfect characters are a snoozefest.
And I had to face it. She was too perfect for real life, too. A “too perfect” character is an unbelievable character. So, as I am outlining the second draft of The Deity Run, I had the opportunity to add some dimension to Wakana.
- In the second draft, I’m seriously thinking of changing Wakana from Ferdinand’s girlfriend to his wife. This would up the stakes in some of the scenes.
- I gave her some goals. She came to a strange new world with Ferdinand to establish a musical career. It failed. In the novel, she is going to deal with convincing Ferdinand to move back to Earth (oh, in case you didn’t know, The Deity Run is science fiction.) in the hopes of another chance with her music.
- She has to change by the end of the story. Her attitude toward her music, her marriage, and her life in general needed to be different from the time the story starts until the time it ends. I don’t want to give anything away, but I am creating a list of scenes where she uses her music in a way that makes her look at her creativity in a different light.
- I’m going to make her a littler bitchier to Ferdinand. I mean come on, who doesn’t like to read about fighting couples? Don’t get me wrong. In the first draft, Wakana and Ferdinand had some fights, but they seemed melodramatic because I didn’t really know who Wakana was. I’m sitting there typing and thinking, “Now, why are they fighting?” As I rewrite, I’ve given her some angst and she’s going to use it to create way more tension between herself and the man she loves.
So the lesson is: give your characters goals, give them a reason why they can’t achieve their goals, and give them imperfections.
Don’t you just want to smack people who seem too perfect?