Welcome to Day 6 of the A to Z Challenge
Many bloggers have chosen a theme for the A to Z. My pledge since becoming a blogger is to post about writing, so for this event, I will being posting about what I've learned about writing a novel.
F is for flaw: a feature that mars the perfection of something; a defect or fault. (Dictionary.com)
In order for readers to identify with a protagonist, the character must be relatable. The easiest way to pull that off is to make him similar to the reader, as if he could somehow find himself in the same situation and have a comparable response. But to make the protagonist interesting, he shouldn’t be perfect, but rather flawed, though not fatally so. Most often, it’s this very flaw that most interferes with the protagonist achieving his goal.
He must be likeable and have redeeming qualities, but even if he seems or does something contemptible, the reader must care how and why he got that way in the first place. In this case, he should be self-aware, have a self-loathing and the courage to change. Though there is little sympathy for a willfully self-destructive man, we can forgive him if he’s at least trying to be good.
Most readers can fall in love with the lost and despondent protagonist, as long as they have a reason to want his suffering to end. Even a tragic character must have something to hope for, and a secret strength within that will allow the reader to bond. Readers respond to conflicted, fallible characters who endure the challenge and come out a different person in the end.
In my novel, the protagonist’s greatest flaw is that he can’t see, and therefore won’t acknowledge, that he is flawed. So when he does the unforgiveable, his self-image is destroyed, but he works to right the wrong he’s committed, and redeems himself in the process.
I favor the bad boy myself. What about you? Do you look for a solid, upstanding protagonist, or do you prefer the darkly flawed variety?