LA DE DA – YOUR CHARACTER ISN’T PERFECT!
Okay, check this out. Say, you write a story. The main character starts from a horrible place, but that’s brushed over (this here is a red flag). When the action starts, this character goes through life and everything works perfectly for him or her. You reach the end of the story and the character turns down an offer to say…become president. Yeah, things went that well.
Others critique the story, say it isn’t realistic because there’s no conflict. You change it and give other characters the conflict. The main character saves the day for everyone else, thinking this is the drama.
You shop this story around and can’t understand why nobody will touch it.
Folks, the above scenario is real.
People are drawn to a story because the main character isn’t perfect, just like them…just like you! Sure, maybe you want your heroes to be able to do stuff you can’t, but you don’t want them to have everything go exactly as planned, have everything fall in place.
How boring is that?
You need conflict! The character or characters need some reason to be on that page. It’s not just an autobiography of a fake character. It’s a story, for crying out loud! It’s entertainment. It something to draw your interest. That’s done with conflict.
Everyone has flaws, quirks, makes mistakes. That’s part of life, exaggerated reality/unreality. Even superheroes have flaws and weaknesses. I don’t need to list the nemeses/weaknesses of each superhero, but fans will know. Something will be their Achilles heel. There has to be or they’re immortal and there’d be no reason to have them do anything. They’re always going to win with ease.
Real-life fictional characters have flaws like all humans. When you draw your characters, they need to have real-life flaws as well. When they go against their adversaries, whether they’re going to inevitably win or not, you need to make the conclusion nail biting, or as nail biting as you can.
There has to be drama along with the conflict to make the story interesting. The story needs some goal to surmount, a reason for the reader to be there, spending money on that book, taking their time to believe in that name on the front cover. It’s your job to give it to them. If you bore them with no peaks and valleys of conflict, no reason to compel them to turn the pages, you’ve let them down.
When a character does everything perfectly, and the reader knows it, there’s no reason to move on.
If the character isn’t perfect, the reader has no idea if the hero can pull off the next scene. They’re more likely to read and find out if things work out, or if the story pulls them into some other direction.
That, folks, makes the story interesting.
Don’t disappoint them with bla bla bla, everything’s perfect!
Don’t make your fake “real” world even more unrealistic!