Perfect Is Boring

As romance readers and writers we can easily fall into the trap of perfect. This is, after all, fiction and involves a certain amount (some romance books more than others) of fantasy.

If you could fantasize your perfect guy and put him on paper what characteristics would you include? Most, including me, would probably describe the perfect man6 foot tall with abs of steel, dark hair, blue eyes that see into your soul, honest, true, strong, protective, and somehow knows your thoughts before you do. Not only that, this paragon of virtue acts upon those thoughts by providing for your every need, every desire, every whim.

Anyone else yawning yet?

The problem isnt with reading or writing a hero who hits all your yes buttons. The problem is, doing so without making him real or flawed in some way will suck all the tension right out of the romance. That guy has no where to go, no need to grow or develop his character. Part of a great romance is seeing how the hero and heroine compliment each other, fill in each others gaps, help change each others perceptions, and help each other grow as people. But if your hero is already perfect, why does he need the heroine?

By the waythis is just as true of the heroine. I love a fantastic, strong, independent, kick ass woman as much as the next gal. But if shes too perfect. Meh. Why do I care about her life? Shes perfect.

In addition, while you can write a book entirely with external conflicts that the hero/heroin must overcome, the best books (in my opinion) are those where the conflicts change the character in some way. Those external conflicts can be made so much more interesting with internal conflicts, and even better if your hero/heroine have to also overcome a flaw to win, to succeed, to rise above.

The solution to boringwrite that hero and/or heroine who hits all your yes buttons (because Im a romance writer and reader, and thats part of the fun for me)and then give them flaws.

Wikipedia actually has a great definition for this. A character flaw is a limitation, imperfection, problem, phobia, or deficiency present in a character who may be otherwise very functional. The flaw can be a problem that directly affects the characters actions and abilities, such as a violent temper. Alternatively, it can be a simple foible or personality defect, which affects the characters motives and social interactions, but little else.

Flaws can add depth and humanity to the characters in a narrative. For example, the sheriff with a gambling addiction, the action hero who is afraid of heights, or a lead in a romantic comedy who must overcome his insecurity regarding male pattern baldness are all characters whose flaws help provide dimension. Perhaps the most widely cited and classic of character flaws is Achilles famous heel.

Wikipedia goes on to define different types of flaws: minor, major, tragic.

There are TONS of other resources on character flaws you can check out all over the internet. A 5 minute search turned up these in addition to the wikipedia article, and I know theres more out there. Gather ideas, look at the characters you write, and see if you can improve their story with character flaws.


Character Flaw Index | TV Tropes

123 Ideas for Character Flaws | Writers Write

Character Flaws | Mark OBannon

When Flaws Go To Far | Writers Digest


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