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Monday, February 22, 2010


Perfect Is Boring

I love a flawed character. You can do so much with them, and there is room to grow. The more human, the better. Personally, I don't think I've ever written a character without failings. In my opinion, they make for a more interesting story.

Let's take this down to basics and see what you think –

Mina is a bit of a selfish girl who runs away from home to take a boat ride with a friend. Things go dreadfully wrong, and she ends up in Dominic's path.

Dominic's father was cruel to his mother, and Dominic never did anything about it. Because of this, he has issues with women. He is afraid he will become his father, so he avoids women altogether.

Mina needs his help, but he won't let her close enough to him to get it. She clings to him because she is afraid to go home to her family and face the trouble that her running away has caused.

Now, if you look at this plot line and remove the characters' flaws, you don't have a story at all. Take away Mina's guilt, and she can return home without delay. Get rid of Dominic's family issues, and there is no tension between them. Eliminate Mina's selfish impulses and Mina will never even leave home. Keep all these things, and you have a perfect opportunity for the characters to grow as separate people and as a couple over the length of the story. Leave them in, and you have potential for passion, adventure, and romance.

There is a certain amount of perfection in the flawed character. I will go into my heroines for more examples.

Chloe, in Bound by Love, starts out a spoiled girl with little regard for the people around her. As she sees what effects her deeds have, she slowly comes to realize that her actions have consequences, and by the end of the story she is not the same.

Reena, in Crushing Desire, is very insecure. She isn't fashionable and she knows it all too well. Joshua shows her that love dictates true beauty and by the end of the story she has changed.

These flaws bring a certain level of humanity to the characters that perfect characters could never achieve. Next time you pick up a romance novel, watch for characters with flaws. See what sort of trouble they can get into and how much fun the story is because of it.


Shiela Stewart said...

Love the post and you are so right. You take away the flaws and what kind of story do you have. We all have flaws so why shouldn't our characters as well. :)

laura said...

Great post! And you're right...who can relate to perfect characters? We're all flawed. Well, most of us anyway. LOL Nice job. :)

flchen1 said...

Very true, April! It's much easier to relate to someone who isn't perfect!

mymargee said...

I love a good flawed character. I love it when a character overcomes all obstacles regardless of their flaws to achieve their goal. Those are the ones I really can get behind and cheer for the entire book. What can I say...It gives me hope.


P.A.Brown said...

None of my characters are perfect. How boring would that be? But some of my characters are so flawed I've had people hate them outright. In Memory of Darkness, the 'hero' is a drug user, dealer, burglar and car thief. He picks up a hustler and takes him to a sleezy motel where the hustler gets killed and the hero gets framed. He flees and for the rest of the book he's trying to prove he didn't do it. Along the way he raises money by selling more drugs, and gets around by stealing cars. None of it helps the fact that his son is a cop. And oh, he married young when his girlfriend was pregnant, but came out of the closet a few years later and essentially abandoned them (though he did always pay child support) In the end there's a partial redemption, he proves he's innocent and he meets a good man who stands beside him, so it could go either way. He could change his stripes or go back to being a bad boy. Some readers love him, but a few despise the man. Personally I've got a fondness for him. What can I say, I like bad boys. LOL.

Tierney O'Malley said...

I often base my characters to people I know, met at library, my family, or my self. So yes, they are flawed. Readers can relate to characters emotions, behavior if we create them as humanly as possible.

Tierney O'Malley

April Dawn said...

Thank you all for your responses. I'm glad to see so many others love and relate better to these flawed characters.

Janice said...

Great post! You are so right! I love flawed character, how else will you see character growth if they don't have anything to strive for?


BrennaLyons said...

The only perfect character that works is one where the perfection itself is something of a flaw, but I've only done that once in a book. I'm with you. Characters must have flaws.

My 15 y/o (who is also a writer) is fond of saying that perfect characters are only boring until you kill them off in some horrible fashion. Then they are very interesting. Grinning... Like mother, like daughter.


April Dawn said...

Exactly Janice. Thanks for the comment.
Brenna, lol interesting thoughts from the teenage set there. :-D

Cassie Exline said...

When I first started writing, I thought the heroine had to be perfect while the rest flawed. Ohhh, I heard you groan. lol That's okay, that misconception has been rectified. Now I'm an equal opportunity writer. lol

April Dawn said...

Lol, I think that is a very common misconception, so don't feel silly. Naturally, most writers want to write about the most beautiful people they know. But my whole point for writing this was to remind us all that flaws can be beautiful too. They add depth to characters, interest. IMHO lol

Kelley said...

Great post. I can't stand when a hero or heroine is perfect. It's not realistic. I think the key to make them likeable is not to overdo it though. You don't want readers to hate your main characters.