Recently, I’ve realized that some of my favorite characters are ones who are far from perfect, and some of my favorite books have the most flawed characters. Don’t get me wrong, I love a book with a kick-butt female who loves to wear leather that hugs her perfect body, but there is also something appealing about a very different kind of character.
One book I read had a female lead who settled in life, held back her feelings, and feared even the smallest changes. As the book progresses, she changes and grows as a character. It isn’t necessarily that she wants to change, or that at the end of the book she is a completely different person, but the plot forces her into situations where she has a chance to be something greater than she was. And as much as she doubts herself, she rises to those challenges. This character appealed to me on so many levels. There is something amazing about watching an ordinarily-seeming person in a fantastical world.
One of my current books has a character whose father makes a bad choice that ultimately impacts her in a very negative way. As the book progresses, we see she is angry and confused by her father’s decision, but ultimately still loves him. Someone asked me why she still valued his opinion when he’d treated her so badly. I wanted to say, “haven’t you ever cared about someone’s opinion when you really shouldn’t?”
To me, it was easier to have a character who just writes off her father, someone who sees the world in black and white. But that isn’t how real life is. There are so many shades of gray, so many complications, and facets to every relationship. I wanted this character’s relationship to reflect real life, because to me, my characters feel real. (Just a side note: The feedback I received can also tell me something from a writing standpoint. If that didn’t come across, then I knew I needed to develop the relationship more. This is why feedback is so important. I may feel justified in how my character feels, but my readers should feel this way too.)
So even though I love to write my prefect characters, the ones with great bodies, all the confidence in the world, and some major “flaw” like too much pride, I also like to create characters that are as complicated as real people. What are some of your favorite imperfect characters?