Mistakes our brains make...

So when I was about halfway though the session on writing horses at the February DFWWW Conference -- someone pointed out that on my handout, where I commented on the fabulous characterization by Eddie Murphy as Donkey as the White Stallion, it said Shrek III, and those scenes had been in Shrek II.

I was sure I had copied most of that paragraph about stallions from the draft of 33 Mistakes, Mistake One - Stallions. And so I was sure that the mistake must be in the final version of the e-book as well. You can imagine my mind was going a thousand directions and none of them good.

It truly was one of those cold-sweat kind of moments and in hindsight I was really glad I didn't have my laptop with me because I know how hard it would have been not to stop everything, turn around and check the file. As if it would have done any good to know, in that instant, if I had really screwed up that badly.

At any rate, once I did get to where I could check the file, the original correctly said Shrek II. *whew*

And, thankfully, if I blubbered too badly over those next few minutes, it's blocked from my memory. Have you ever notice how the human brain is wondrous like that, sometimes, to just pretend that it didn't happen. Is that kind of memory loss a type of survival mechanism to protect us from embarrassment and pain?

What about how denial kicks in at the time something is happening.

- "That isn't really a rattlesnake. It's a harmless snake that just happens to have rattles and a head shaped like a pit viper."

- "Just keep driving. That funny noise the truck is making will quiet down if you can just keep it going for another few miles."
- - on a side note, it's true that if there is smoke or steam coming out from under your hood and you speed up, it will seem to have disappeared. *blink, blink* ...although if it's a smoldering fire, it will burst into flames when you slow down ... don't ask me how I know that, it's a long, sad story with a bad ending.

Or what about those people you know who are (naively?) eternal optimists?

- I know my boss said they'd have to let me go if I was late one more time, but I now they didn't mean it.
- I know I shouldn't have that candy bar, but I'll get back on my diet tomorrow.
- I know my husband said not to bring another stray dog home, but that one's just too pathetic to leave here. He'll understand.

Do you ever put those people in your novels? Not the people of course, but those characteristics? Have you considered what wonderful character flaws these things can be? The bits of blank memory, the outright denial, the justification and the 'just one more time' refusal to step up to the bar. Are these things that keep your character down? Are they issues your character can grow and overcome? I know these are issues that I deal with everyday, both in myself and in those around me, and I suspect I would easily identify with a protag dealing these traits.


Anonymous said...

Interesting topic. I do try to do that, but I also worry that readers will then accuse the H/H of being Too Stupid To Live. I mean, we've all had those moments (some of us more than others, LOL) but they demand fiction make more sense than life. Personally I think it can make a character more endearing, but I guess it's in how often you use it as a device. It probably could just annoy the heck out of me if the heroine was constantly doing being ditzy. (Not that I'm calling YOU ditzy, that's a title I reserve for myself.)


(for some reason blogger didn't auto log me in, and I can't remember my password - too early in the morning - hence the anonymous post)

K.M. Saint James said...

Character flaws are what make the characters worth reading. I like your suggestions for layering these flaws in -- I don't believe I've considered any of these regarding primary or secondary ones. Good food to add to the character pot.

L.A. Mitchell said...

I know one of those. It's refreshing to be around for a time, but then you start to think that being naive is its own defense mechanism and wonder what's going on inside.