posted on October 26, 2016 by Diane Alberts

Flawed Characters in Fiction

by Diane Alberts

his-best-mistakeOne of the things that writers struggle most with is making our characters realistic, likeable, kind, and yet…flawed. Yep, you heard me. Flawed. No one likes perfection, and let’s be honest, perfection isn’t realistic. Have you ever met someone who was PERFECT? And if you have, how much do you want to bet that it’s all a front? That when they go home, they probably eat a box of chocolate and drink ten bottles of wine and cry.

Okay, maybe not that extreme.

But still. No one is perfect.

No. One.

So how do we (AKA writers and authors) make characters that are flawed, but you, as a reader or watcher of a TV show or movie, will still root for?

Well, you see, that’s that hard part.

There’s only so much we, as people, can accept about someone we’re supposed to be rooting for in fiction. I like to make my heroes AND heroines flawed, but sometimes the character arc that we, as writer’s, try to get across in two hundred pages, or an hour of TV, can fall…well…flat.

Sometimes it isn’t the writer’s fault. Sometimes it is. Sometimes the character reminds a reader of their ex-boyfriend that they hate. Sometimes the heroine reminds a TV show fan of their annoying dorm roommate in college, and how could they ever root for annoying Suzy Sommers?

But the thing is, if writers aren’t writing characters that remind us of someone, then they’re not doing their jobs well! If characters are perfect on paper or on screen, and never so much as sneeze while driving, well, that’s not realistic, is it?

So, yes, sometimes you’ll read a character that you hate. Sometimes you’ll hope and pray for a character to be killed off a show. And that’s okay! God knows I’ve hated some characters in shows, movies, and books myself (I could go on for hours about Jenny from Gossip Girl. God, she annoyed me)! Sometimes I’ve been disappointed in their happily ever after, or I’ve failed to see how the hero could love the heroine when she’s so frigging annoying.

But the thing is…if those characters were flawed enough to make us feel something so passionate about them…they were fantastically flawed.

Like us.

So tell me! Have you ever read a book, or watched a show, where the writing was good, the plot strong, the acting was on point, the sex was hot, but you just couldn’t like one of the main characters?

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Diane Alberts

Diane Alberts

Diane Alberts is a USA TODAYbestselling Contemporary Romance author with Entangled Publishing. Under the name Jen McLaughlin, she also writes New York Times, USA TODAY,and Wall Street Journal bestselling books with Penguin Random House. She was mentioned in Forbes alongside E. L. James as one of the breakout independent authors to dominate the bestselling lists. Diane is represented by Louise Fury at The Bent Agency.

One thought on “Flawed Characters in Fiction”

  1. Our flaws maketh us, as who and what we are. And in a modern world where everything it seems is amenable to instantaneous digital copying, it is the messy flaws that begin to look like the jewelled features.

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