We can’t write flawless characters and expect a good story to be the result. How many of us are flawless? (Did you just experience a brief laugh-out-loud moment after reading that question?)
Here’s the problem with writing flawed characters. How flawed is too flawed? I recently read a novel by an author I respect. I’ve read the majority of fiction this individual has written and enjoyed most of the books. However, the recent stories by this author have featured characters I didn’t enjoy. Not even a little. In fact, the latest novel could not gin up a single character I even cared for a little bit. Not one. I don’t think that had ever happened before reading this book. The story created a unique premise but the characters couldn’t deliver. In the end none of it mattered.
Granted, characters assume personality types. I suppose if we don’t like a certain type of person, it’s logical to assume we might not enjoy certain characters with traits that mirror those type(s) of people. However, as readers we accept all kinds of characters within the pages of stories, eager to love, hate, or identify with them. I doubt we ever expect not to like a single one of them.
So, there must be redeemable qualities under all those flaws – something there for us to access our favor, even in a small way. We can handle them reacting badly – or stupidly, etc. – to circumstances, but if they sustain certain attitudes and morph into hateful or show no signs of letting up with their lousy outlooks, how long will we tolerate them? Will we quit reading? Will we wish we could?
What do you need from your flawed characters to stick with them? If it’s the protagonist, what makes you give them the time they need to come around to the place where you’ll end up rooting for him/her? What if it’s a peripheral character? How flawed is too flawed for you?
Nicole Petrino-Salter writes love stories with a passion. Devoted to the Lord Jesus Christ, her family, friends, and pets, she’s written lots of novels, only three of which she self-published. So be it. Raw, Romantic, Redemptive