May 11th, 2015

Can We Balance Strong Yet Vulnerable Characters?

Jami Gold

Writing is often about finding a balance. Too much left in subtext can lead to confusion. Too much explanation can feel like an info dump or be too “on the nose.” Etc., etc.

With our characters, if we want our protagonists to seem heroic, they need to have strong traits. Yet at the same time, if we want our protagonists to be relatable, they need to have vulnerabilities. This is never an easy balance, especially when clichés fill our heads about what a “strong character” means.

Stereotypes Don’t Allow for Diversity or Three-Dimensional Characters

On the heroine side, Ripley from Alien is often brought up as a “strong female character.” The stereotype refers mostly to physically violent, butt-kicking women. Furthermore, it assumes women who need rescuing—ever—can’t possibly be strong.

On the hero side, the stereotype is all-alpha-male-all-the-time. And not just a normal level of alpha male, oh no… In some genres, the expectation is for an amount of alpha-ness that reaches *sshole level—leading to the label “alpha-hole.” Again, the assumption is that heroes who are caring or sensitive—ever—couldn’t possibly be strong.

With all those clichés and stereotypes swirling about our head, it’s no wonder that we might struggle with making likable characters. There’s no room in those clichés for vulnerabilities that will make them relatable to the reader.

Those expectations also prevent us from making three-dimensional characters. How can a character who has to conform to such narrow expectations ever seem unique and real? How can they ever make decisions that follow who they are rather than who the clichés expect them to be?

To my mind, “strong” means the ability to handle that which the character thinks they can’t. Whether they’re handling a situation, an emotion, a conflict, a weapon, a threat, or a relationship, there should be multiple ways of showing strength, or else we’ve lost a different kind of diversity and dimensionality for our characters.

A Disclaimer—Characters Who Conform Aren’t “Bad”

All that said, I don’t think it’s bad if some of the characters we write follow the stereotypes. As with other kinds of diversity, the problem is when that’s the only depiction or considered the norm.

Many readers like heroines who literally kick butts, and many readers don’t. Many readers adore alpha-hole heroes who are jerks to the nth degree, and many readers don’t. As authors, some of us naturally write those types of characters, and some of us don’t.

None of that is wrong. If we tried to eliminate those characters, we’d once again be limiting the options for our characters, which is the opposite of my point. Rather, my concern is that too often characters lose the “strong” label when they display any characteristics that deviate from the narrow expectations, regardless of their other “strong” qualifications.

A Closer Look at Strong Heroines

In many paranormal romances, the hero is a paranormal being and the heroine is a “mere” human. Between her gender and her human frailty, the heroine is usually at a big disadvantage.

No offense to many of my favorite books, but I didn’t want to write that kind of paranormal romance. When writing romance, I love exploring the power struggles and negotiations between the couple.

To me, a romance where the couple figuratively battles each other for the upper hand and gradually learns to function as a partnership and team feels true-to-life. So to write those kinds of stories, I needed heroines who were on equal footing—power-wise—with the hero.

Case Study: Elaina of Treasured Claim

TreasuredClaim Cover without Logo 200x300In Treasured Claim, my debut paranormal romance novel releasing next week, the paranormal being of the couple is the heroine. Not only is the hero a “mere” human, but Elaina—a shapeshifting dragon—is also physically stronger than the hero. In addition, she has attitude to spare, to the point that the strength of her voice helped me discover my author voice.

However, when I first started entering contests with the story, I received feedback that some found her unlikable. They didn’t like that she starts off the story as a jewel thief with a callous attitude.

The key to unlocking her character from a reader perspective was to show her vulnerability. In other words, I had to balance her strengths with her vulnerabilities.

  • Strengths: Her physical strength alone shouldn’t define who she is. She has other admirable traits, such as being comfortable in her own skin and not letting others shame her. She also has a strength of will and character and makes the hard decisions because they’re the right thing to do.
  • Vulnerabilities: There’s a reason she’s stealing jewels—she’s on the verge of death and needs them to stay alive. And yes, she’s flippant, but she also has a strong sense of right and wrong and is weak because she refuses to murder humans for their treasure (unlike other dragons). And to top it off, she’s on the run from her father, who’s trying to kill her.

A mix of strong admirable traits and vulnerabilities brought the character—and the story—up to the level it needed to be to win over readers. After making those changes, Treasured Claim won First Place in three contests and was a finalist in six other contests. *smile*

A Closer Look a Strong Heroes

In paranormal romance, for better or worse, the norm for that subgenre is often extreme alpha male/alpha-hole heroes. But I don’t write alpha-holes, and some of my heroes have some downright beta traits (along with their alpha traits).

I don’t want to write jerks. I don’t want to read jerks. I want romances where the characters grow in a partnership based on respect that I can believe will last for the “ever after” part of the happy ending. That’s just my preference.

Alpha Males vs. Alpha-Holes

Heroes can be dominant without being domineering. They can be protective without being controlling. And they can be confident without being overly arrogant.

To me, those positive traits, along with others like leadership, focus, decision making, and problem solving, are an alpha male. The term came from wolf packs, where the alpha male was simply the leader, not a jerk.

On the other hand, when I look at a domineering, controlling, arrogant male, I don’t see a leader. I don’t see an alpha male. I don’t see a hero.

I see a poseur, a male who’s so insecure that they put on an act to hide who they really are and who’s so afraid that they need to control everything. Their jerky behavior is all about posturing and overcompensating for their weaknesses.

A couple of months ago, I shared a quote on Facebook:

“Confidence isn’t walking into a room and thinking you’re better than everyone. It’s walking in not having to compare yourself to anyone at all. — Unknown”

To me, the real alpha heroes are the ones so confident they’re not afraid of revealing their vulnerabilities. The ones so confident they can be nice and not fear that will erase their assertiveness or power. In other words, the ones we might actually like if we met them in real life. *smile*

Case Study: Alex in Treasured Claim

In many ways, Alex is the typical romance hero: He’s a billionaire business guy who’s used to getting what he wants. But through his father, he also grew up with first-hand insight into the dark side of what domineering, controlling alpha-holes are like in real life.

Unfortunately (for him), while Elaina intrigues Alex, she also brings out his dominating side more than anyone else. With her, he’s more aggressive, more controlling, and more disrespectful, and he doesn’t like it.

His struggle was fun for me to write because I got to play with the expectations of the genre in a way that fits the character. And just like with my heroine, I worked to give him a mix of strengths and vulnerabilities:

  • Strengths: He excels with the (good) alpha male traits of focus, decision making, and problem solving. Beyond being a gorgeous billionaire, he’s admirable (and relatable) for his desire to rise above his history and for his goal to build a healthy partnership with Elaina. He just happens to make a lot of mistakes along the way. *smile*
  • Vulnerabilities: At the same time, he’s terrified of turning out like his father, and he worries about how much he seems to be sliding in that direction. He’s also willing to admit to himself how much he’s obsessed with Elaina. He doesn’t play the stand-off-ish game with her, and that means she knows exactly how to hurt him.

In other words, unlike the stereotypical alpha-hole, he consciously tries to be kind (he throws a charity fundraiser for a cause close to his heart, and he treats his employees exceptionally well), and he also allows himself to show emotions. He’s not implacable or untouchable. He’s relatable.

Again, I’m not saying that no heroes should ever be arrogant, controlling, domineering playboys or that no heroines should be butt-kicking Ripleys. But I reject the idea that characters must conform to narrow stereotypes to be considered “strong.”

I want to read stories with more diverse characters than that. That’s why I’m not going to change the kinds of characters I write. I’ll continue writing both heroes and heroines who are strong and vulnerable. And I’ll just hope that others are looking for the same. *smile*

Do you struggle with writing characters who are strong yet likable? Have you ever experienced pushback for making your characters vulnerable? Do you think characters can be strong and vulnerable? How do you think genre affects that possibility? How would you define a strong character? What heroes or heroines have you liked that follow or break the stereotypes?

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About Treasured Claim:

A shapeshifting dragon on the verge of starvation…

For Elaina Drake, sparkling jewels aren’t a frivolous matter. Without more treasure for her hoard, she’ll starve. On the run from her murderous father, she’s desperate enough to steal—er, acquire.

A modern-day knight seeking redemption…

Disgusted by his father’s immorality, Alexander Wyatt, Chicago’s biggest corporate titan, is determined to be a man of honor. Yet the theft of a necklace, stolen by an exotic beauty at his latest fundraiser, threatens to destroy all his charitable work.

A predator made prey…

Passion ignites between thief and philanthropist, sparking a game of temptation where jewelry is the prize. But when Elaina’s exposure jeopardizes Alex’s life, she must choose: run again to evade her father—or risk both their lives for love.

Available at Amazon, iTunes, B&N, and Kobo, or go to Jami’s website for more information.

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About Jami

Jami GoldAfter triggering the vampire/werewolf feud with an errant typo, Jami Gold moved to Arizona and decided to become a writer, where she could put her talent for making up stuff to good use. Fortunately, her muse, an arrogant male who delights in making her sound as insane as possible, rewards her with unique and rich story ideas.

Fueled by chocolate, she writes paranormal romance and urban fantasy tales that range from dark to humorous, but one thing remains the same: Normal need not apply. Just ask her family—and zombie cat.

Find Jami at her blog, Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest, and Goodreads.

38 comments to Can We Balance Strong Yet Vulnerable Characters?

  • Love, Love, Love the quote, Jami. Never seen that one, and I’m the queen of quotes! So true.

    I struggled with this in the book I just finished. My women are always strong (inside, anyway), but this one was closed off, damaged, and irascible. My crit partner, *eyeballs Orly* kept reminding me to keep her human. I thought I had . . . until I got an R&R back from the editor I want to sell to, saying the heroine was too one-dimensional. You know that means unlikeable, right?

    I didn’t lighten her up much in the revision, but hopefully showed her vulnerability and fears in her thoughts – which, hopefully, will make readers root for her more.

    We’ll see (she says while chewing her nails).

    Great post, thanks for blogging with us again!

    • Thanks for having me here, Laura (and thanks to Jenny for the invite)!

      Great point! Yes, sometimes the feedback of “unlikable” shows up as “one-dimensional.” A character’s vulnerability is another facet of their character, so the better we are at showing that facet, the more likable they are and the more dimensional they are.

      I’ve got my fingers crossed for you and your heroine! 🙂

  • Characters need layers. I compare them to artichokes — you have to peel away a lot of leaves to get to the heart. And I love that quote, too!

  • Jami, coming from a long line of strong, feisty women, I am prone to give my female characters lots of moxie. I did get a crit on one character that she was a bit over-powering and became unlikable … but with a bit of work I am getting into her soft underbelly without sacrificing her strength. Thanks so much for this post. I am crazy in love with strong women, paranormal, fantasy or in this world strong women 🙂

  • Thanks for having me here, ladies! I struggle with making my characters likable EVERY book, so I have lots of experience in trying to find this balance. LOL!

    Luckily, my beta readers are good at highlighting specific places or aspects that make them unlikable. So in revisions, I’m able to dial them down a notch and find a better balance. 🙂

  • Timely, Terry. I see the new stereotype of alpha females showing up on cop shows all the time now – kicking in the door, single-handedly taking down several bad guys, etc. Too much in the other direction for my taste.

    I’m caught in a stereotype problem at the moment in my WIP. My heroine is being assaulted by a bad guy. Her boyfriend shows up at a crucial moment. I’d rather she didn’t have to be rescued by her boyfriend. On the other hand, nothing in her character points to her being able to overwhelm a large, strong male opponent. Still searching for a creative solution.

    Thanks for giving me more ways to think about this.

    • Hi Carol,

      Yes, as one of my readers said, if women were really all as butt-kicking as the new stereotype makes it seem, they’d be playing all the positions on a football team. 😉

      As for your WIP, I ran into that problem with the next story in this series. The heroine *needed* to be rescued, but didn’t like that fact. Maybe if you dig deeper into your heroine’s emotions–what does it mean to her that she’s being rescued–you might be able to expose an emotional truth. In my story, she didn’t want to be rescued because she didn’t want to fall for the hero any more than she already was. LOL! Good luck with your story!

  • Yes, I have one somewhat arrogant character who didn’t come across as likable as I saw her. I never saw her as a stereotype, but I hadn’t gotten everything on the page I needed to so that readers saw both her cocky side and her vulnerable side. Once I wrote in more of her internal struggles and her background, she came across far better. Like you, I like layers.

    Love the post! Thanks for the tips, Jami. And major congrats on the release!

  • Enjoyed your post, Jami. It’s always a struggle to make characters strong without turning them into a complete ass. After writing romantic suspense and historical romance, I am now struggling to develop a paranormal. The problem when I started was to try and figure out how a being made of light and energy could get cozy with a human without frying her. It’s a laugh a minute. I think I have a solution, but now the h/h have to be willing to let me screw about with their lives. Reading your post and the comments is helpful. By the way, I liked the info on your story so much, I ordered a copy from Amazon only to find I didn’t read the teeny tiny print and it is not out yet. Rats, and other ‘orrible things.

    • LOL! Next week, Mary. 🙂 Thanks for ordering!

      Oh yeah, paranormal is lots of fun for trying to figure out how the “impossible” can happen. 🙂 Good luck with your story!

  • YUP! I struggle with putting characters on the page who have moxie and strength, yet a fair balance of vulnerability. No perfect people in MY noggin for my characters. My struggle is exactly what you describe: revealing snippets of the vulnerabilities early without doing a back story dump. An added challenge? I write romantic comedy (with steam). The humor in my heroines can make them seem flip and insensitive if I don’t properly handle (or, overuse) humor hits.

    Alpha males? Heck, if they’re going to live in my head for 400 pages, they’d better be someone I’d welcome between the sheets…

    …of paper.


    Your debut novel sounds SO dang intriguing. I’ll be watching for it, Jami. Congratulations!

    • Yes! We don’t want to do backstory info dumps, so as you said, it’s all about giving hints or revealing just a sentence or two at a time–or even better, *showing* what their worries, weaknesses, and vulnerabilities are. 🙂

      And you’re right that flippant and sarcastic can be a challenge. The WIP I’m editing now has some of these “insensitive” issues according to feedback, so I am by no means an expert at getting it right the first time. LOL!

      Thanks for the congrats! 🙂

  • Super interesting stuff here! I think there can be so much strength in vulnerability — or, at least, in our embracement of it. The same holds true for characters I dig. No one who is “perfect” can be brave, IMO, because where’s the risk? Brave and effortlessness can’t really coexist.

    I did have an agent and editor tell me that he thought my protagonist should start out strong, then break down gradually, rather than start out with problems and weaknesses as I’d written her. I tried, but it didn’t work (for me, anyway).

    • I’m a big believer in being true to our characters. I can’t write them as three-dimensional people without respecting who they are. I don’t want to *erase* who they are just to make them more likable.

      So good on you for being willing to try a different method, and double good on you for sticking up for your character when the other method didn’t work. 🙂

      And you’re so right that *embracing* our vulnerability IS a form a strength!

  • Thanks, Jami. I so agree with you – kick ass heroines bore me and strong alphas often come across as jerks. 🙂 I do believe its possible to be strong and have vulnerability. It’s called being human.

    Much success on your dragon shifter book!

  • Serena Yung

    Hey Jami,

    Well from reading the excerpt of Treasured Claim from the back of the Unintended Guardian ebook, I can tell you that Elaina Drake is one of those characters I liked very quickly, if not instantly. And I actually LIKE her callous, jewel-thieving attitude because I thought it was really funny in a good way. XD Lol I’m not endorsing theft, of course, but in a story where a dragon needs to steal in order to survive, I’m much more sympathetic.

    Lol I think I’ve been less exposed to the “strong male has to be a jerk-a**” stereotype, thankfully. But yeah, of course they can be emotionally sensitive too. In fact, in order to be one of Serena’s romance heroes, they HAVE to have a very high level of femininity and emotional sensitivity, or else they don’t get to star in any of my romances! 😀 In real life, I only like males (as friends as well as lovers) who are highly feminine too, so. Masculinity is only attractive to me if the man in question is already very feminine. 🙂 So there you have an opinion of one of your romance readers!

    (Random note: Why is it that people say “one dimensional” when they really mean “two dimensional”? Or is it really THAT bad that the character isn’t even flat (a flat plane)—they are actually a straight line?)

    Haha I don’t write following any stereotypes, because I pants, I don’t plan. And when I pants, the character, who they really are, appear by themselves; they are themselves. And my main characters all have at least one thing similar to me, so this (no matter how minor) similarity in personality with me means I have some insight into their psyche, and that automatically makes them more round because I understand how they work as people, what their thoughts, feelings, and motivations are, and I can demonstrate that I understand all this.

    Talking about the specific stereotypes mentioned in this post, as aforementioned, my main guys are never alpha-holes since they are all required to be sensitive, sweet, warm, caring, loving, etc. in order to star in my stories. XD I like cute and sweet boys, at least sweet. Not all of my main guys are confident, but the hero of the story I’m currently writing, Yuan Dingshun, is a hyper confident (has hyper high self-esteem too) yet not-at-all arrogant person! Goodness knows how he manages it, but I myself am aspiring to be like that. (Yuan Dingshun’s Chinese name looks like this: 袁定順, in case you were curious, haha. I really like the visual appearance of his name.) In fact, Yuan Dingshun has read many stories about heroes who have fallen and died tragically due to hubris, and therefore he is determined to be an amazing person who is both astonishingly great in their abilities (fighting skills for him) AND not arrogant. I.e. Super confident but not at all arrogant. So he has a huge opinion of and faith in his abilities, yet DOESN’T feel that he is superior to anyone. Our story protagonists often reveal something about us, right? Well, Yuan Dingshun’s goal (and he seems to be very successful at it already) of being a super confident and competent, yet not at all arrogant person, also happens to be one of Serena’s life goals, haha.

    Hmm about being dominant but not domineering, I just don’t really like the word “dominant” when applied to guys I like in stories, haha. “Dominant” still makes me think of jerks and a**holes, so I prefer the term “superior”. A superior, not “dominant”, guy is how I see Mr Yuan Dingshun. 😀

    On strong females, LOL by that stereotype’s definition, NONE or virtually none of my heroines are strong, because they all need to be saved by the hero or some other guy or person at least once. You know, despite being a feminist, I’m weird because I actually don’t mind the guys-protecting/ saving-the-girls kind of thing that much; to me it’s like getting a free bodyguard, ahaha. Though the ideal would be that SOMETIMES the girl saves the guy, and sometimes the guy saves the girl. There’s no need to be stubborn and demand that no one ever save you; as you said, a romantic relationship is a partnership, so each helps the other.

    On the problem of needing to be simultaneously heroic and relatable, I run into a similar issue of some characters needing to be ideal yet realistic at the same time. So I have three particular characters in mind, Yuan Dingshun, Kong Yefei, and Zhan Lanhua who are very ideal people to me—ideal as in I love them so much and think they’re SO cute and sweet that I develop big character crushes on them, lol. All three of them started off as very ideal, because I kept hiding their not-so-flattering sides from the reader. So if Mr Yuan Dingshun has a petty thought, or says anything that would make him look not-so-awesome, I would omit it somehow or conceal it from the reader because I wanted Yuan Dingshun to look—not perfect, but so cool, heroic, and fabulous. But later on, for all three boys, as their plots progressed, I was FORCED to show their not-so-flattering sides, because some plot events made them reveal some not so lovable traits and I can’t hide them from readers anymore. At first I was uncomfortable that they didn’t look like such ideal, or even exemplar, people anymore, but later I grew more comfortable because they now look more realistic, more relatable, and most of all, they are still absolutely wonderful and amazing people to me whom I have character crushes on, EVEN with some things that put them in a less positive light. All three guys, despite being super cute, sweet, lovely, lovable (at least to me), even fascinating at times, now also have moments where they thought, said, or did some petty or even pathetic things that would make you think less highly of them.

    I guess it may still be disappointing if you were expecting Yuan Dingshun and co to be very perfect, but well, people are people and people are imperfect. In my real life, there were some friends whom I had always looked up to and seen as perfect people, so when I saw something that made them NOT so perfect anymore, I was disappointed and disillusioned, you could say, but it made me realize that my friends are flawed humans like the rest of us after all; I had a bad habit of idealizing some people in my life, lol.

    But the point is to be able to see that these people, whether fictional or in our “real life”, are still awesome people even with their less glorious sides, and to be comfortable with and ADMIT that these people you venerate have these less glorious sides, haha.

    Back to the problem of writing characters that some readers think are two-dimensional, I find that some readers think in more big-picture ways and some other readers like me pay attention to smaller details instead. I’m not saying that one way is superior to the other, but if our reader happens to think of our characters in a big-picture view, then they might not register or remember that little sentence or paragraph or even page of characterization you did for character X to make him look more 3D. And whatever the reader doesn’t register or remember, doesn’t exist for the reader, and therefore, unfortunately, character X is “flat” to them DESPITE your subtly included character development moments.

    SO, my solution is to make sure any character development is big and obvious enough that ALL readers can see, register, and remember it, so that at the end of the book, they will think character X is 3D and not 2D, lol. By “big and obvious enough”, I mean that instead of just having that character development moment happen in that one sentence, paragraph, or page, have it reappear again a few or even many times, if appropriate. I think I recall your “if mentioned three times, the reader will remember” rule.

    One way of developing characters is to show very different personality sides to the character, so it would be good if the “atypical sides” appear in a salient enough way so that the reader will remember for sure that this character has this side in addition to their normal “typical side”. Another way to develop characters that I recall, is to show that their motivations make sense and that these characters are psychologically understandable. So I like to do passages, both long and short (from one single sentence, to several paragraphs long at max) of a character’s thoughts during a scene or in response to a plot event. I don’t know about other readers, but I personally already find a character more round, if I can see a good deal of “psychological reasoning” or “psychological turmoil” paragraphs on their thoughts and feelings. These paragraphs (paragraphs tend to be more effective than single sentences to me, maybe because the former collect more emotional momentum and force from their greater length) show the character’s motivations, desires, goals, fears, loves, hates, concerns, etc. that make them feel human; because we human beings have desires, goals, fears, loves, hates, concerns, etc. In fact, I find that a character feels more 3D, complex, and human when I see what their “heart affinities” are. A “heart affinity” (my made-up term, haha) is what the character loves or cares about, so a heart affinity can be someone they love, their life calling, a human rights movement, a religion, or whatever else they may really deeply love and care about. H. A.s make them feel more relatable too, since we also all have things we really care about.

    Therefore, if a writer is able to show these things, different personality sides, their heart affinities, concerns, goals, desires, fears, etc., CLEARLY ENOUGH on the page, I will find that character complex and multi-dimensional. 😀 Other readers may have different opinions.

    Ooh I also like how you analyzed your characters with “strengths” and “vulnerabilities”. It really makes them both likable and relatable.

    P.S. I think I mentioned this to you before, but it’s interesting this paranormal romance genre norm, where the guy is this powerful and cool nonhuman paranormal being, whilst the girl is a mere human and is therefore weak and needs to be protected. It’s interesting because in Chinese paranormal/ fantasy romances, it’s the opposite; usually the GIRL is the powerful and cool supernatural being (like a fairy, demon, or sprite) whilst the guy is just a mere human that the girl needs to (deign to) protect. XDD

    • Hi Serena,

      LOL! I feel like we should have warned the WITS team about your epic comments. 😉

      Yay! I’m glad you liked Elaina from the excerpt. (I have that same excerpt on my book’s page too, in case anyone hasn’t seen it yet.)

      As for the one-dimension thing, I always figured that referred to the character being a single point, with no depth or facets at all–which *would* be really bad. LOL!

      Yes, I think it’s great when someone can be confident and competent and yet not be arrogant. Sometimes my heroes get a bit of that arrogance, but the heroines usually call them on it. And as you said, we love our friends and family even though they’re not perfect.

      Oh yes, that’s so funny about how the roles are flipped in Chinese stories.That just goes to show that there ARE readers for every kind of story. 🙂

  • Thank you! I’m always worried that my heroes are too…beta! Don’t get me wrong, I’m one of those people who enjoy an absolute alpha once in awhile, but I write beta…go figure. Even so, you always have spot on advice, thank you (again). P.S. I adore dragons and LOVE that your heroine is a jewel thief!

    • LOL! Yes, Alex is one of my more alpha heroes, but even so, he’s not as alpha as many out there. And like you, even though I enjoy reading about all kinds of heroes, I’m incapable of writing uber-alphas. 🙂 And thank you for the kind words!

    • I write beta heroes too, Amy. All the way. They can get riled, but under it all they’re pretty off-the-wall souls. I have an ex-gambler, an agoraphobic, a plumber… They are totally not alpha bad-asses, but they’re people smart. And my heroines are the ass-kickers.

      • I love it, Jenny! In my current WIP, the hero starts off the story unemployed and homeless. LOL! I love the challenge of making him sexy as all get out anyway. 😉

  • […] I guest posted at the Writers in the Storm blog about making our characters strong yet vulnerable. I blogged about the topic here last year, but my post over at WITS includes details of how I […]

  • I like your take on what is strong hero’s and heroines. And that confidence quote really speaks to my own philosophy. I rarely read modern fantasy writers (I consider paranormals fantasy) because of the lack of depth to the characters. I think I could like your books. I’ve read a few India Drummond fantasies, and you characters seem as well balanced as hers are. Well done.

    Also, I like unlikeable characters. Talk about a character arc 🙂

    • LOL! Yep, I usually don’t stop reading a story just because of unlikable characters. As you said, that can make for a great character arc! 🙂

  • Most of my heroes are pretty vulnerable. And the only ones who might be considered jerks (or at least bad) grow until they aren’t anymore.

  • karenmcfarland

    As always Jami, you do not disappoint! I love the way you break things down. For me, I like women who don’t know their own inner strength. I think that can make a great character arc to show how they grow through their struggles in strength during the story. And then again, it could be that I don’t really know what I’m talking about. lol. As I still am trying to get this point down. Again, I enjoyed your post. I always learn something. Thanks! 🙂

    • Oh, great insight, Karen! Yes, most people don’t know their inner strength until they’re faced with a crisis. So part of our job is to force our characters into that corner where the reader will see the “real” core of the character revealed. 🙂

  • […] my guest post at the Writers in the Storm about balancing character strengths and vulnerabilities and my post on Tuesday about alpha […]