I’ve done no writing today, I’m afraid, due to a rather fruitless walk to get to a shop which turned out to be closed and the subsequent bad mood I got into. That’s alright, as my sister keeps reminding me. And, though sometimes I forget that I don’t have to be perfect and write every day, she has a point. Besides, nobody’s perfect. And that, obviously, got me to thinking about characters.
Generally speaking, we writers tend to be careful with our cliches. We don’t cross our bridges more often than we can help, and we’re shy about counting chickens lest our readers can’t see the woods for the trees, et cetera et cetera. Several of my characters, however, are rather prone to the odd wistful idiom. The difficult thing to remember, when you’re writing characters like that, is that it’s OK. People use cliches and idioms all the time, and your characters should sound like people. It’s important to relax your writing rules for dialogue.
Similarly, when writing in general, it’s important to give proper regard to punctuation, spelling and grammar. Your characters don’t have to bother with any of that. Of course, it depends on the character – most of my characters are quite posh and therefore speak very properly – but there’s no rule to say your average Joe Bloggs needs to speak the Queen’s English. In fact, depending on where Joe Bloggs is from, he might well tell you that “‘er Maj’s lingo ain’t nowt important”. Alright, that’s a terrible mash of accents, but you see my point. I’m tired, cut me some slack.
Basically, the point of this post is to remind you writers out there – and myself – that nobody’s perfect. Your characters don’t have to be – in fact, they shouldn’t be. They should have flaws and quirks and make mistakes like everyone else. It makes them real, and it makes them beautiful. Go forth and make your characters messed up!