Tuesday, December 28, 2010
Character Quirks or Flaws That Go Awry
This is what I said in total exasperation by the time I finished part of the latest edition of a "knitting" mystery. The main character's quirk or flaw is her love of coffee. This is not a problem in itself but the author mentions coffee, caffeine, strong blends, empty mugs, empty thermos, etc, over and over again ad nauseum. It became so frustrating and annoying to read line after line about coffee that it interfered with the enjoyment of the story.
As a whole, this cozy series is good, gives the reader lots of information about knitting, and the author has developed the other characters very well. However, this obsession by the author to emphasize the main character's love of coffee is ruining the character for me so much so that I don't care if her love life has hit the skids. (My guess is he can't stand her coffee breath and jittery nerves but is afraid to tell her.)
Every writer has heard and read that giving your characters flaws makes them more real and more interesting to the reader. I agree. One of my YA characters wants contacts because her glasses keep sliding down. I've made a note to check the "ad nauseum" factor during revision in the hopes that one day one of my readers won't say, "Enough already!"
What are your thoughts about character quirks or flaws? Have you seen them done to death in novels? How do you know when your reader gets it and no longer needs to be reminded?