Thursday, June 2, 2011

Are you afraid to write imperfect characters?

I have been thinking about this for a few days now.

One of the complements I get on the Coiree series is that Rebecka is NOT a perfect woman. She is a drama queen, she has a weight problem, she was difficult. But she is still a character people can respond too.

One of the criticisms I got while trying to get my Minstrel story published traditionally, was that Grail was too old, they were looking for more YA centered books. Which was a surprise to me, because went I sent the query their website said nothing about that. But if I was to change Grail's age and make him as young as the rest of the group. The story would have fallen apart.

There seems to be this tendency for the popular fiction (TV, Books, Movies) to make the characters perfect, or at the very least only one major flaw. This may work and draw some people in, but are those rememberable characters? And what you might consider a strength someone else might consider a flaw.

Let's look at Grail. He is older, he put the group together, and has the uncanny ability to know someone no matter where they are. He is the wiser (not smarter) of the group. He is partly the leader and partly father to the rest. If he was younger, most of those abilities would not seem to be real.

It's doesn't make him a bad character. Yet, he was the one I got the complaint about (not the gay singer, not the thief, not the insane drummer, and not the whore??). Why?

Partly it was a change in what genre they were trying to promote. But I think now, at least in the mainstream. The idea of perfect = sales. Which makes me shudder

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