I enjoy writing flawed characters. Most writers do. Where’s the fun in writing about someone who’s perfect, whose only action is reaction? I certainly don’t want to read about perfect people. Even Mary Poppins had her faults.
Good stories are built around moral choices, and if a character always takes the altruistic high road, then he or she will grow predictable and stale. The question is, how do we portray a seriously flawed character without alienating readers to the point they stop reading? How do we ensure readers will find our flawed characters sympathetic/empathetic or at the very least compelling enough to read?
It’s not difficult with a POV character. The writer has the power to let readers inside the protagonist’s head, to give insights into the thoughts, motivations, and backstory that led to a character’s ethically questionable choice(s).
But the answer is more complex for non-POV characters because we don’t have that glimpse into the inner workings of the mind. All we have is the character’s behavior and the reactions of others. These are the characters that challenge me as a writer. Yet, they are the characters I most enjoy writing. They’re also the characters I most enjoy reading.
What are your favorite characters to write?
Or, if you don’t write, your favorite to read?