|Photo credit: HimmelrichPR on Flickr|
The most memorable characters to me (and I suspect I’m not the only one), by and large are the ones with imperfections. The ones who make mistakes, who battle inner demons as well as evil antagonists, who fight a war inside themselves that reflects the war going on around them. My favorite characters are conflicted people doing the best they can with what they’ve been given, and the choices they make are often a far cry from perfection.
And that’s the way it should be.
When you think about it, imperfect characters are something many of the most popular books have in common:
The Hunger Games—Katniss is known for being a strong female lead, but sometimes she’s too strong. In the first book she has difficulty getting sponsors (which are necessary for survival) to like her because, frankly, she’s not a particularly likable person. Imperfection. Depth.
Harry Potter—Even if you haven’t read Harry Potter, you probably know Harry is far from perfect. He makes plenty of mistakes (some with dire consequences), he’s often a jerk to his friends and it takes him the course of seven books to realize that he doesn’t need to fight his battles alone. Imperfection. Depth.
Imperfect characters resonate with readers because they’re realistic—just as no one is perfect in real life, no characters should be perfect on the page. Imperfections, to me, are beautiful—they’re the nuances that make our characters unique, the flaws that make them real, the conflicts that make us believe these are real people in real situations.
Imperfections add a powerful layer of depth to our characters—are you utilizing them?
Think about your favorite characters—were they imperfect? What about them draw you to them? What other examples of imperfect characters can you think of?