Weak Kneed, Lily-Livered Wimps

Did the title grab your attention? Odds are it did. When it comes to people, either real or imaginary, there is nothing that turns me off more.

These individuals whine. They moan. They blame everyone and everything for their woes. They refuse to accept responsibility for their actions or make the necessary changes to achieve their dreams. They're spineless, whimpering cowards who can't look a person in the eye or tell the truth, and they drive me nuts!

What got me started on this tirade? In tweet-speak, it can be explained by #amwriting and #amreading.

I am writing. Well, to be honest, I'm always writing, but right now I'm planning to write the second book of the Muriel Reeves Mysteries. I start in earnest January 1, 2012. So far, I've got the title. I've got a dead guy. I'm got the regular cast of characters who appeared in Frank, Incense and Muriel. What I love about them collectively and individually is their strength. They're people I admire and enjoy spending time with. There's not one weak kneed, lily-livered wimp amongst them.

They're fun to write. They're also fun to read.

Just last night I finished a book where the protagonist breaks up with her boyfriend in the final chapter. She tells him he's weak. (He is!) Their relationship, she explains, will never work because she doesn't have the stamina or wherewithall to hold them both up for the longterm. In short, he's high maintenance with a very low return!

That sums it all up for me. Strong versus weak will always win the day. Think Scarlett O'Hara, Robert Langdon, Hannibal Lecter, or Harry Potter. Regardless of age, gender, genre or whether heroine or villain, a strong, willful character makes for better writing and better reading.

So, what character trait drives you crazy? Which one tips you over the edge? Ah, come on. Spill. Don't be a weak kneed, lily-livered wimp... ;-)

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Kelly Hashway said...

I don't like weak characters. But I don't like unrealistically strong characters either. I need a balance. No one can do everything and handle everything without a little help. But no one should need help doing everything either. Get what I'm saying? Balance. I love flawed characters who find the strength to overcome their flaws. Those are my favorite.

Beverly Diehl said...

I like characters who have weaknesses - Scarlett, one of my favorites, certainly lacks self-awareness!

I belong to a group where one of the few male writers always writes weak and passive men (apparently this would be him, or his own wet dream). The thing is his male leads rarely do anything - the females are fighting, taking a bullet for him, etc., and he's generally tied up somewhere. I am rooting for somebody, anybody, to take his hero OUT.

Somebody smart said, "The hero has to be HEROIC." If somebody else is taking the action or solving the problem, then your hero, isn't.

Anne K. Albert said...

Hi Kelly, that's the trouble with rants! I didn't mention balance. Thanks for bringing that important detail to my attention.

I don't mind weak characters who grow and develop into stronger people by the end of the book...or in real life for that matter. It's the ones who refuse to change and grow that get me. They enjoy wallowing, and hope to gain my cooperation as well as my undivided attention...but it ain't gonna happen!

Anne K. Albert said...

A hero does have to be heroic, Beverly. So do people IMHO. Not over the top. Not Superman-like, just someone with an attitude that says they're not going to quit. No matter what. :)