Writing for children, teens and YA: Imperfect characters

When focusing on character development, I think writers need to remember one important detail about main characters. They need to have…

FLAWS.

Yes. FLAWS! Our characters, especially our main character, need to be imperfect.

Having flaws does not equal being a bad main character. It simply means the character is “real”. The character is relatable. He (or she) is really relatable! 🙂

I don’t want to read about characters that are perfect. I don’t think my kids do, either. Matter of fact, even watching the princess movies, (which they love), they are always rooting for her more when she makes a mistake (no matter how small) and has to find a way to fix it.

We all make mistakes and want reassurance that they can be “fixed”. We want to know there is a chance for redemption. And reading books with characters who go through the same process gives us hope!

Do your characters have flaws? And if you care to share, what are they?

One of my characters is brutally honest. Always. He doesn’t understand the problem with it. This flaw makes for interesting and sometimes hurtful situations.

How about the books you read – which are your fave characters? What are their flaws?

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4 thoughts on “Writing for children, teens and YA: Imperfect characters

  1. Hi Donna,
    We all have flaws, even heroes. Unfortunately, writers sometimes make main characters too perfect to be believable. That turns off a reader. Hopefully, that’s just in the first rough draft or character sketch–the development of an ideal character. Sprinkle in some trouble and reaction to it and an editor may take notice.

    Donna, good luck with your brutally honest character. I hope he is in print soon.
    Linda A.

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  2. I love Pippi Longstockings. She is quirky, spunky, messy and completely naive about social norms. It’s her naivete and the trouble that causes her that makes her endearing and we root for her to come out on top.

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  3. Linda – you’re right… sprinkling in trouble is KEY to a fun character. They need to have a problem to solve and most of the time, it needs to be THEIR problem.

    K – Pippi! She reminds me of my Z. KNOw what I mean? 🙂

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