|Christophe Dioux Wikimedia Commons|
The decisions character make are crucial to the story line. I’ve heard creative writing tutors suggest (frequently) that getting a character to make the wrong decision is what drives the story forward. And I agree, this can be the case.
But how many times does the character have to make a wrong decision before it is totally overdone? I’ve started quite a few books recently and wanted to scream at them because the main character is just too stupid to be interesting. It’s probably okay for a character to do something unwise 2 or 3 times – but endlessly? Personally I give up, skip to near the end of the book and don’t read that author again (unless the end is stupendous, which it rarely is).
Complex girls and women with problems, yes, let’s write about those. But ones who always choose the wrong guy, spend money they don’t have, and worry about the labels of their clothes and their figures more than their souls… Well, personally I’ve had enough of them. Decisions need to be made in keeping with the over-all character development, they need to be understandable and to add to the interest of the plot. They should NOT be there as an obvious device to ‘keep things moving’ or to make sure there can be a sequel. Above all they should not be endless repetitions of the same mistakes.
You can get great emotion, tension, interest into a book without having the characters being idiots! A few new writers who do this successfully come to mind: Imogen Howson (short-listed for the 2014 Young Adult Romantic Novel of the Year), Tammy Falkner’s books are great on emotion (with maybe too much sex, but obviously other people like that!).
This is just my opinion, of course, but I think writers should try a little harder to avoid the easy route of a ‘wrong decision’ and find a more interesting (and believable) way to drive the story forward. I wonder if you agree?