Welcome to the tenth day of MARCH BOOK MADNESS!
Today, A.L. Sowards is here discussing characters. She’s the author of Espionage, a Whitney Award finalist this year, set in France during World War II. The sequel, Sworn Enemy, is due out this April.
Creating Flawed (But Likable) Characters, by A. L. Sowards
The words stung a little because I knew they were true. One of my friends just emailed me her thoughts on an early draft of my second novel.
About the protagonist, she said, “I like him . . . but that’s all. I feel like I should have a crush on him, or want to be like him, or he should remind me of someone I admire, but I don’t feel any of that.” In another note, scribbled in red ink 2/3 of the way through the manuscript, she pinpointed the problem:
My protagonist was too perfect.
He didn’t start out perfect, but I’d used the same main character from my first novel, and he’d already overcome his big challenges during that novel, leaving him . . . too perfect. (Don’t worry—I fixed that. He has some internal struggles now, and I show how obnoxious he is as a hospital patient.)
Why are perfect characters bad?
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