Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Flawed Characters Are Fantastic Characters

     A common misconception is that readers want perfect characters. Well, as an avid reader and writer, I'm here to debunk that myth. No one - and I mean NO ONE - wants to read about a completely perfect character. 

     Readers want to relate to the characters in one way or another, and not a single person can relate to the flawless complexioned, always-nice, never-gets-into-trouble and always-gets-A's character. This isn't saying that your MC (or any other charrie, for that matter) can't get good grades or be an all-around nice person. But while you're thinking up all the good aspects of your character's personality, be sure to remember their flaws, too.

     I have flaws; believe me on this one. Sometimes I'm too loud or too talkative, and I often think before speaking. I fight with my sisters sometimes. At times I overthink things. All these things are real. You can probably relate to at least one of those situations. If I get into trouble for saying something I shouldn't have and I go to read a book to get my mind off of it, I don't want to read about some perfect person who does no wrong and never makes mistakes. I want someone who tries to be good, but messes up sometimes because they're human (well, they could be some kind of creature, depending on the genre, but still, you know what I mean). 

     Perfect people don't exist, and neither should perfect characters. Don't be afraid that readers will hate your character because they have a few flaws; it'll be completely the opposite. Perfect characters turn out - what's the right word - ANNOYING. Like, I-want-to-smack-this-character-with-a-frying-pan-Tangled-style-and-throw-this-book-across-the-room annoying. 

     The solution? Make your characters have flaws. It doesn't even have to be a lot of flaws; take some of the characters from the Percy Jackson and The Olympians series for example. Percy Jackson's fatal flaw is loyalty - although that's a good thing, sometimes he's so loyal to his friends that he'll forsake saving the world for them. Another PJO character, Nico di Angelo, has problems with holding grudges. Annabeth's is hubris (or pride).

     As for me, I enjoy giving my characters flaws. I know that it makes them more realistic. My MC's best friend is (sometimes!) nice, and he's very talented, but he's a thief, and he tends to be snarky, sarcastic, a bit of a flirt, and can appear heartless. Another character of mine is really a sweet, caring guy, but he tends to come off very arrogant and egotistical. He's also a bit too reckless and impulsive.

     So, long story short, don't make perfectly annoying characters. Don't be afraid to make your characters imperfect. Let your character smart off every once in a while. Let them make mistakes. Let them reach the limit of their patience sometimes. That'll go a long way to making it easier for your readers to fall in love with your characters like you have!

     It's your turn! What flaws have you given your characters? Have you ever encountered a 'too-perfect' character in a book? Please tell!

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