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Friday, April 6, 2012

Guest Post: Flaws Make Character by Victoria Marshal


When I think of characters who I love, I find myself drawn to characters that have some kind of major flaw.  To me a character that has doubts and insecurities to overcome is a character I can get behind.
These characters, despite their flaw, are not necessarily weak.  They simply lack in some area that feels insurmountable to them. When I’m reading, and I see a character bump up against their personal stumbling block time and again, I can feel myself rooting for them. When (if) they do triumph, a surge of joy rushes through me. I have been known to shout, “yes!” at these moments if the stakes in the story are high enough.
This is probably why I created the characters I have in Bookended by Beauty Queens. Angie Palmer has never quite recovered from growing up sandwiched between two beauty queen sisters. She grew up relying on her intelligence to get her through, and doesn’t make lasting friendships. She is a damaged character.
Before I began shopping Bookended by Beauty Queens, I sent the manuscript to various writer’s contests, because that’s what I was told writers have to do to get noticed. The first contest comment I got back was, “Why doesn’t this woman just grow up and move on with her life instead of being caught in high-school crap.”
I am surprised by this remark. Based on the number of women I know who refuse to go to their high-school reunions, and refuse to friend “certain people” on Facebook for reasons dating back to high-school, I think quite a few people have difficulty “growing up” and “moving on”. You know people like this too. I know you do. There is always something in the past that still affects us as adults, even if we only admit it to our therapists.
I believe Angie’s hang-ups from her past make her more human.
Angie’s major flaw, the thing she needs to overcome, is still being affected by her sister’s queen-dom. This is the springboard for her journey through the book. If she didn’t have some emotional obstacle, what would be the point?
Character flaws keep us guessing, and invested in the character’s journey. Will this person overcome? Sometimes they can’t or won’t. If the writer did their job, the choice should make sense to you as a reader.
All of the characters in Bookended by Beauty Queens have flaws of their own, some major, some minor, but to me all very human. I don’t want to read about characters who are perfect, and I sure don’t want to write them. No, for me, bring on the flaws.

Bookended by Beauty Queens by Victoria Marshal

Title: Bookended by Beauty Queens
Author: Victoria Marshal
Genre: Women’s Fiction
"Angie Palmer likes her life just the way it is–private. She has no desire to entangle herself in complex friendships, and her relationship with her two beauty queen sisters is safely distant.

Unfortunately, life doesn’t always go as planned.

When disaster strikes her Grandmother, Angie takes her into her home. A life with Grandma comes a world full of changes, and new friends, including Val, a drag queen with hopes of being the next US-Gay Beauty Pageant winner. Angie is determined to keep Val at a distance. Val has an instinct for knowing what is in Angie heart.

Just as Angie gets comfortable with Grandma living with her, a budding friendship with Val, and a new romantic interest, everything takes an unexpected turn.

Val becomes the victim of a violent crime and ends up in a coma. Angie begins a struggle against Val’s family who wants to remove their son from life support.

Suddenly her private life becomes very public, and her world becomes a media circus. Angie is caught in a clash between religious beliefs and gay rights.

Through many twists and turns, Angie discovers a new appreciation for family, friends, and love.

In the end, Angie learns that a life filled with people to care about is never too crowded."

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Victoria Marshal lives and writers in Northern Minnesota where she lives with her husband and her children. Bookended By Beauty Queens if her first book. You can find her on her website: http://victoriamarshal.com

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