Sunday, July 3, 2016

Flawed Characters

Between three writing groups and two “free” ebooks I’m reading, THE PROBLEM WITH CHARACTERS is forefront in my mind. In one thriller novel, although there were a multitude of mechanical errors, they were not enough to detract me from cheering on our flawed protagonist. I sincerely hoped he wouldn’t be dead at the end of the book. In another thriller, the protagonist was so perfect, no doubts reared their ugly heads as she plowed her way through difficulties. Those were published free ebooks.

In our writing groups, we also had similar issues. Wonderfully developed and flawed protagonists and perfect people solving problems without disturbing a hair.

This made me go back and look at my own characters developed over the years. I looked at a couple of my characters. We have Doll, in The Blenders Series. She is a woman “of a certain age,” who has a bad hip, a man who adores her, but she mourns the disappearance of her husband five years ago. She runs headfirst into a problem without considering the consequences, which aren’t always good. In the end, she generally succeeds in solving a problem. I guess she comes out as a flawed character.

Then there are Max and Taylor, the couple escaping from The North in Silent Autumn. He’s darned near perfect. In him I created a man I could adore, but only after getting to know him. Taylor, on the other hand, starts out as a whiny brat who only wants to go home, knowing full well it is impossible. She does evolve throughout the book and eventually becomes a strong woman. Max is a reader and a thinker; Taylor is loving her newly discovered sexuality and emotions so she tends to be somewhat like Doll.

In Escape from Iran, Amir is torn between loyalty to his boss and his country, Iran. When he helps rescue Dr. Parker, he falls in love with Janice, Dr. Parker’s daughter. As he works with them to get the out of the country during the infancy of the revolution in 1978, he must make some difficult decisions. Janice, is much like Taylor in this one, a whiny spoiled young woman in the beginning who evolves into a resourceful person by the end.

Which brings me to a current work in progress where Max and Taylor appear again. Sadly, I realize I have made them “sweet,” kind, and seemingly harmless, without flaw. Their opponents, two humans returning from a lengthy space mission, are meant to bring out their passions, anger and make them do things against their nature to save their children. Can they go against character as presented? That’s a difficult decision to make.

How do you handle creating lovable characters with flaws?

Happy Independence Day, fellow Americans!

Veronica Helen Hart is the author of seven published novels with a multitude of characters she had grown to love over the years. Some are very flawed; others not so much. Which ones does she love the most? Hard to tell. Check her out at :;;


Angelica Hart and Zi said...

Enjoyed reading your article. As writers, we adore our characters. They are our babies, and we want to be perfect. I am told often that I think my daughter is perfect even when she is doing that is not so perfect. Those naysayers are right, and I do see it, just refused to admit it. However, isn't it the flaws that make characters more lovable, more relatable? It is quite a conundrum but what a great challenge. Yea you for hitting the arrow on the target!

Angelica Hart and Zi