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A plague that afflicts many male characters is one I've seen in several older books, and unfortunately, it seems to crop up most in books by Christian authors. It might come from the writers being women; it might have grown out of the Progressive movements in the late 19th Century - I'm not sure. Certainly one book I found guilty of it was written a long while before that. So, without further ado,
the straw man
These are characters who, though men, act like women and are portrayed as something like feminine angels (and not the powerful angels of reality, either). They are extremely good. They are also extreme milktoasts. They are as emotional as women, though I've found that the authors try to get away with this by calling them "manly tears" - protesting too much, mayhap? You can't picture them going into battle, or fighting with everything they've got for something they love, or overturning money-changing tables in a temple.
The moral compasses of these straw men never waver. They have no real struggles with anything so terrible as hatred; certainly not anything like drink (gasp!) or a foul mouth (oh noez!). What "struggles" they do have are sanitized and even glorified to make the characters look even better: they might love another person too much, or be too sacrificial, or too trusting, or what have you. But sin? Oh, goodness, no, mustn't have that!
Caveats are in order. Most of you know that I'm all for characters who, like the prince in fairytales, represent virtue in its purest form. I'm all for them because those characters are true: they represent valor and honor and truth, all powerful and masculine virtues. They've got backbone. They are good, but that does not necessitate their being wimps. In fact, it rules out their being wimps: there is no virtue in milktoasts.
This doesn't mean there can be no cowardly lions in our stories, only that it ought not be portrayed as a mark of piety and goodness. My character Justin King from Wordcrafter is one of my own favorites, and yet he is also naturally the weakest. His insecurities make him unwilling to stand for much of anything; he lacks conviction, and Agent Coulson has informed us what happens to men of that stamp. You can't pretend that Justin's retiring personality and half-developed backbone is a good thing, while Ethan Prince's blood-and-fire impulsiveness is evil - and yet, by the Law of Straw Men, I suppose that's what you would say.
The Straw Man reveals itself in different forms, some much more innocuous than this, and is quite apt to creep into our stories when we're not looking. I prefer writing male main characters, and yet I make these kinds of mistakes in the rough draft and have to get them ironed out by my father-and-beta-reader; in particular, it seems my characters have a tendency to be pacifists. Not to say they won't fight, but when it comes down to killing someone, my heart fails me. I put myself in their proverbial boots and find war and killing so ugly that I usually take the easy way out, and have to correct myself later on to be more in keeping with the character. I kick myself for it whenever it happens, but ho hum! One of these days I'll get it the first time around.
do you find any straw men in your rough drafts?