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Thursday 26 November 2020

✉ How Flawed Characters Connect Us to a Book by Tina deBellegarde

Today author takes over our blog to tell us about "How Flawed Characters Connect Us to a Book".  Tina's debut novel is Winter Witness (, Level Best Books , 338 pages), a Traditional Mystery, book one in the Batavia-on-Hudson Mysteries series.

"If Batavia-on-Hudson were real, I'd jump in the car & drive there now [...] DeBellegarde has created an entire universe of characters in this well-written mystery. They remind us that everyone bears the scars of some heartbreak that they – we – hide from casual friends and neighbors." - Mally Becker, Amazon Verified Purchase

"I loved this book! The characters are well developed and the plot twists and turns in directions you don't anticipate." - Amazon Customer, verified purchase

|| Synopsis || Teaser: KCR Preview || Author Guest Post || About the Author || Giveaway & Tour Stops ||

How Flawed Characters Connect Us to a Book

by Tina deBellegarde

Batavia-on-Hudson, the village in Winter Witness, is inhabited by flawed characters.

Bianca, a young widow, is afraid to mourn her husband for fear he will be gone forever.  The sheriff has PTSD and we question if he is up to his job.  Claire is a gossip who can’t find true love.  Bert drinks too much, chases after his ex and is blind to the devotion of a finer woman.  Agatha is ashamed of her past and will not allow herself to get close to her community and pushes the villagers away.  The only character with no flaws is dead on page one.

I am convinced that readers prefer their characters very flawed.  These characters are the ones with growth potential and often have the most at stake.  I also believe that one of the reasons we read is to work out our own flaws, see them from a distance, objectively, and maybe own up to them.  Accept them.  Correct them, even.  Flawed characters make us believe we are not alone in our struggles.  Children’s books are intentionally full of these characters as a way to reach children, to help them work through their challenges.  I don’t think authors of adult fiction plan to do this for their readers, but I believe that it is an unintended benefit of writing true-to-life characters.  Even fun, quirky characters can teach us something about ourselves.

One of the most common questions I have seen authors asked is Who is your favorite character and Who is your least favorite character?  To me it’s like asking a parent which child they prefer.  We often write what appears to be a benevolent protagonist and a malevolent antagonist but that’s not always the case, now is it?  For example, the antagonist may have a more sympathetic reason for their unfortunate role.  All our character creations are just that, creations.  And we love them all in their goodness and badness.

If all the characters in a story are not somewhat flawed, I would lose interest in that story.  All characters should be flawed, because all humans are.  When writing a less appealing character, I am hoping to imbue that person with enough backstory, gravitas or humor to make them appealing in other ways.  As Gregory Maguire showed us, the Wicked Witch of the West was wicked for a reason.  There is nothing more satisfying to me than feeling deeply for the most flawed character, to empathize with that person’s plight.  When I develop a character, I am hoping that when all is said and done, that their redeeming qualities will make you care for them the way you do for your childhood rival who is still your friend, or your most annoying cousin, or a sibling who pushes all your buttons.

So my least appealing characters are often my favorite to write because they are more challenging and they are most real.

In Batavia-on-Hudson the neighbors’ flaws are more deeply felt because the village is small, everyone knows everyone and the flaws are too close to miss.  But the villagers learn that living in an intimate community means accepting each other as they are.  Much as family members living in close quarters must accept each other, love each other for the good, and learn to work around the rest.  In Winter Witness every character has a blind side or missteps.  They stumble through life the way we stumble through life.  And so we love them.

How far would you go to avenge the death of a stranger?

Winter Witness
Available NOW!

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CMash said...

I agree. Even though I may not like a character, I am still interested in him/her.

Tina deBellegarde said...

Thank you for hosting my blog piece on your terrific blog! I really enjoyed investigating why I love to read and write flawed characters.

Wall-to-wall books said...

Personally, I love those characters that you love to hate! Sometimes they turn out to be my favorites. Even though they are "flawed" or evil LOL, I love them for that same reason, because I love to hate them. And I think flawed, or evil characters are harder to do. So I appreciate a good bad guy.

Tina deBellegarde said...

I agree. They are so much more interesting. One of my secondary characters is actually described on the book jacket as "...Agatha Miller...the ailing local historian everyone loves to hate..."