Wednesday, January 26, 2011

The trouble with perfect characters

I am not all that particular of a reader. If you write a story that grabs my attention I'll usually give it a shot no matter what genre it's in. No guarantees that I'll finish. I'm not one of those people. I can put a book down once I lose interest. But I will give most stories a chance, even if the writing's not the best.

There's one thing that I have a real problem with, though. It's the perfect character. I don't mean that in the This-character-is perfectly-created-for-this-situation way. I mean the perfect character as in someone who is impossibly beautiful and impossibly smart and always seems to be the only person in the world who can handle this situation he or she finds himself/herself in.

I am reading a sample of one of the books that seems to be taking off right now. So far we have one woman who is a scientist who is beautiful and crazy smart. She is trying to meet up with another scientist who is also crazy smart and impossibly good looking. He also happens to be the only person in a situation that knows how to get out of it, how to save the world.

There was another book I read with a female protagonist who was the same way. She was described as being beautiful, in great shape, top-of-her-class smarts. Too perfect to be believable in my book.

Bothers me in television too. Gina and I are watching a show that I like, but one of the main characters knows everything about everything. And not like some know-it-all. He speaks every foreign language used on the show. He knows detailed science. He knows how to fly a helicopter. Every time some situation comes up he knows how to get out of it.

I don't know if I don't like these kinds of characters because I don't write them. I write regular men and women. Or at least I think I do. Most of my characters are internally conflicted. Put in extreme situations and having to do things they wouldn't normally do. At least those are the characters in Chasing Filthy Lucre. Whether or not they come across that way to the reader I'm not sure. I think they do. So long as they aren't perfect, because a perfect character will take me out of a story faster than anything.

Give me flaws. Give me struggles. Let the characters get out of whatever situation they are in, they are the hero after all. Make them use their heads. Make them be creative. Let me see how they think and how they react. That will tell me about them and who they are far more than making them an expert in Eastern medicine and marine biology.

No comments:

Post a Comment