An important lesson I have had to learn as I have progressed with my writing is the notion that perfection is boring. People like to believe that their favourite characters are perfect, sure, but when looking closely at those characters it can be seen that this is not so. Every memorable character, each one that has captured our hearts, has indeed turned out to be imperfect in numerous ways.
Skills and Power
Firstly, visualise whatever skills or special powers your favourite characters have. Are they a magic wielder, elementalist, swordsman, or something else entirely? Whatever they can do I bet there are a number of way those abilities can be rebuffed. There is likely a vital flaw to those abilities. A trap that I, and likely many other writers, have fallen into is making our main characters too adept. We create them in such a way that they can hold off any attack that is thrown at them. I came to realize, painfully, that characters such as this are boring to readers. No matter how interesting and exciting a role these characters play in the writer's imaginations, they will not be seen the same way in the reader's.
Mentally and Emotionally
Secondly, nobody is perfect. Everyone has flaws of personality, bad habits, emotional strains and fuses. Characters that don't have imperfections are unbelievable and, hence, not relatable. Even when writing in the fantasy genre, writing about impossibilities, the human nature must remain. Each character will have a past which may have led to some of these flaws being formed. It is impossible for a character to be happy constantly, strong of will, kind, understanding, compassionate, and all round likeable. Who wants to read about a character like that?
So when creating a character make sure to add flaws. A perfect character is boring to read about and impossible to relate to. It may help to plan out your character on paper before you begin writing. Read my 'Guide to Fantasy Writing- Characters' for ideas on where to start.
I hope this post has helped many of my fellow writers out there. Happy writing all!
Scarlett Van Dijk
Image courtesy of bplanet / FreeDigitalPhotos.net
A Writer's Tale
Scarlett Van Dijk
Writer of young adult, fantasy series, the Sky Stone series, poetry and short stories.
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