Raise your hand if you’ve seen 27 Dresses. Such a cute movie (and in this one we DO fall in love with James Marsden!). Love the premise, and there is so much inner conflict potential! But what does that have to do with flaws?
You’ll have to see it to understand, but there is a BINGO moment, where the heroine nails the hero’s backstory, and reveals the why of his flaw, which is cynicism. I’m not going to wreck it for you all, but the thing is, when a woman does that in your story, everything changes for the hero. Suddenly he’s found a woman who can understand him.
And that makes all the difference.
So, let’s take a look at some of the excellent examples sent in:
(As a reminder, here are the three steps to building a flaw)
1. What is the Dark Moment that shaped him
2. How has this wounded him?
3. How does he compensate, or hide this wound?
His sister committed suicide 6 years ago. In the first book of this series he comes back to San Francisco to tell the heroine a friend of theirs was murdered. He left after his sister’s funeral because he blamed the heroine and himself for his sister’s death.
In book two, what happened to his sister is brought front and center.
He believes his sister was influenced to take her own life and now has met a man who knew his sister then. What throws this into a precarious balance is this very man who may be able to save the hero’s life (the hero is dying but this guy claims he can heal him) is also the one who killed his sister. Will the hero be saved or is he walking into a trap?
Add to all this, he wants to protect the heroine, the love of his life, the one he once blamed but returned in book one to win her back too. He wants to protect her so much, he’s willing (I think) to even leave if it lessens what she’s going through. (She’s about to lose her father’s legacy and doesn’t want to lose the hero either—at this point, he’s dying.)
Susie here : So, his dark moment is that he wasn’t able to stop his sister’s death…
He felt helpless….so, he now compensates by having a protector complex that says he has to protect everyone around him, regardless of the personal cost.
Some of the things he might need to learn is: 1. He can’t protect everyone. 2. Not everyone WANTS to be protected. 3. Loving someone means letting them protect you back, too.
Some good stuff there that you can really use to build your plot!
Coming from a very strict family, Miguel rebelled as a teenager. A reckless lifestyle would be too tame a word to describe what this man bolted into headlong. For 5 years he lived fast and hard, breaking every commandment in the Good Book. Through the intervention of his sister he experiences an incredible conversion to Christ. soon after he relates his past and his conversion to his parents. His father is so disgusted with all his son has done he never wants to see him or speak to him again. fast forward, because our hero has been delivered out of so much he lives a very humble, devoted life – but – he never shares with anyone where he has come from. When he meets the beautiful Kirsten who is the most gentle and innocent woman he has ever encountered, he begins falling in love. his flaws of hiding his past (covers particularly disgusting tatoos, won’t even hold hands with her (though he wants to), covers up former friendships) create a problem when he is ready to make a committment to the girl. she can’t cope because he’d never given her any hint of who he was before and she just assumed he was always who she’s known him to be.
Susie here: So, his dark moment is that although he was saved from his life of debauchery (and has the scars to prove it) his father never forgave him. Thus, he learned he is someone to be ashamed of, and hides himself. I think you could go a few ways with his flaws. The obvious might be what the author mentioned already: 1. Secrecy issues and 2. Commitment issues but how about 2. Judgment. (he might not even be aware of the fact he is judgemental). Maybe since he is so hard on himself, he’s also hard others. It might be something to really expand on, especially if the heroine has a past that’s less than pristine and feels like he’s pushing her away because of it.
Soemtimes the same backstory can produce different flaws, so play with the one that works best to drive the story forward.
My hero Sawyer’s flaws would be superficiality, a womanizer, running from commitment, and running from his past. He can’t show the pain that losing his mother has caused (lost her when he was eight), so instead he hides it inside a number of “painkillers” – (mild) drinking, beautiful women(one night stands), and fast living.
He’s afraid of falling in love and becoming a father, but he can’t cut women out of his life altogether, so he’s just with them for a night or two and then leaves.
He’s got a wicked sense of humor and sarcastic. But he does have a softer side to him, which he doesn’t let people see. (or tries not to) He’s also bitter, complicated, and a beligerent. He’s still angry even though he’s made a good life for himself. It doesn’t matter though. He still feels lost. Like something is missing in his life. And darned if he knows what it is.
Sawyer is a wounded tough guy who doesn’t need anyone or anything except the love of a good woman. Something he may even get a chance at having if he doesn’t just knee-jerk blow it.
Susie here: I love Sawyer! Sounds like my favorite Sawyer on Lost! (which, btw, starts next week, yay!). Okay…so, Sawyer has serious “keep out” issues, a giant sign over his heart. But his bigger issue is buried in the LOST part (and I’m not talking about the show).
Dark Moment…he lost his mom, and because of that, he has serious abandoment wounds. He learned that it hurts to lose someone you love. Therefore, he doesn’t let himself love someone, doesn’t let them that close. Thus, his big Keep Out sign.
So now, as you build the story, you need to ask: What quality, or act does the heroine do that will get past Sawyer’s Keep Out sign and show him that she will stick around, despite his ugliness? It’s that moment, when she could leave (and should leave) and doesn’t that will show him he’s wrong, and break him from his flaw.
Flaws are the building blocks to character, and a rich relationship between the hero and heroine (even if it’s not a romance). It’s when your heroine sees the why behind it, and loves him anyway that will make your story become one the reader can’t put down.
Thanks Dineen, Harry and Jeannie for your examples!
Next week, we’ll be putting the final touches on our hero – talking about the other two elements of a heart-throb hero, and getting him ready for his journey!
If you have any questions about what we’ve talked about this week, post them on the blog, or go to Club Book Therapy and see what your fellow Voices have to say! Have a super weekend!