My decision not to take this all too seriously has been a good one. I am writing the most ridiculous stuff and getting a kick out of it. I am letting my imagination run wild. I know that there's a lot of unconscious detritus in my head. How do I know? From my dreams. Things happen in my dreams that I could never think up. Mix up late-night television with an upcoming Bruce Jenner interview and what to you get? An actor who played a priest in MURDER SHE WROTE appearing in my dream as a bisexual transvestite who wants to have an affair with me. Vivid. There must be a lot in the old noggin about which I am unaware, and I will only know what it is by letting myself riff.
I've been reading THE ANATOMY OF STORY by John Truby -- had lunch with my old friend and John’s wife Leslie Lehr yesterday at Back on the Beach - and she recommended chapter 3 for novelists.
Truby talks about weaknesses.
I challenge you to point out some heroic flaws or weaknesses in literature:
EMMA - Emma is a snob and a control freak.
PRIDE AND PREJUDICE Lizzie Bennett is sure she’s right and just a little more witty than everyone else.
JANE EYRE - What’s Jane Eyre’s flaw? She seems spotless and too good to be true.
GREAT EXPECTATIONS - Pip’s flaw is that he is ashamed of his past and wants to hide it – again, snobbery rears its head.
LOLITA - Humbert Humbert is a pedophile – seems flawed enough, but there’s more….
THE GREAT GATSBY - Gatsby has a flaw, but what about Nick Carroway?
TO KILL A MOCKINGBIRD - Does Atticus Finch have a flaw?
A ROOM WITH A VIEW - Lucy is afraid to be natural and admit what and who she truly wants.
LADY CHATTERLY’S LOVER - What about all the flaws that come from a person being outside their time or place. Lady Chatterly
Is it a weakness to want passion in Anna Karenina?
Here are two film examples from Truby:
In Sunset Boulevard – Joe Gillis’s weakness is that he has a fondness for money and the finer things in life. He is willing to sacrifice artistic and moral integrity for comfort.
In Tootsie – Michael is and arrogant and selfish.
Both of these characters are likable – to me anyway – and perhaps it is because I want to follow a journey toward redemption. Each man does want to be better than he is even if he doesn’t know it at first. Spoiler alert: Gillis ends up dead. (Well, it’s not really a spoiler alert – you find out right at the beginning). Gillis is redeemed when he chooses to break away from comfort in favor of integrity. (Tragedy)
Michael, in Tootsie, is a womanizer, but he learns to literally stand in a woman’s shoes and his attitude toward women changes. He learns to have a fulfilling relationship.
In these two cases, you could say that the story is embedded in the flaw. If a character has to move from one stance to another, it may make the starting point for the writer more of a trampoline than a plank.
Give me flaws.