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  1. #1
    Nat P

    Can a main character be seriously flawed?

    I am currently writing a young adult fantasy book, but I am having trouble creating the mc. He needs to play the part of a hero, but I don't want him to be like every other mc you read about. If he's too flawed, will people not look up to him as a hero?

  2. #2
    Senior Member Frank Baron's Avatar
    Join Date
    Aug 2010
    Ontario, Canada

    Re: Can a main character be seriously flawed?

    Every great hero has at least one flaw, preferably more. It humanizes them and keeps them from being uni-dimensional bores.

    As long as you don't go overboard and create Joe Jerk, your readers will more easily identify with your protagonist if he's not perfect.

  3. #3
    Senior Member
    Join Date
    Sep 2010

    Re: Can a main character be seriously flawed?


    The deal about literary heroes is that they are made not presented. For forces at work on the MC throughout the story are what transforms him into a hero. Often the bad guy or the forces set against the hero represent the dark or immature parts of the hero's nature. That's why encountering them through the story is what enables the MC to conquer those parts of himself and, eventually, earn the title hero.

    Suggest reading Joseph Campbell's work, "The Hero with a Thousand Faces" "The Hero's Journey," (although that may only be a lecture series, can't remember) and Chris Vogler's book, "The Writer's Journey."

  4. #4
    Aver0n 2o11

    Re: Can a main character be seriously flawed?

    I think readers like a good old flaw in the hero. The real challenge would be to create a lovable villain All the really evil dudes are often presented as pure evil, which is not always true. The villain should have a soft side as well, should be just as multidimentional as the hero. One villain I saw on a foreign TV show was really evil. Think of Mister Evil Dictator who has power and is abusing it - oppression of the masses, that sort of thing. There was so much hatred of him, but his weakness was his sister, who is presented as an innocent pie. He loved her so much, he would sacrifice anything and everything for her happiness. She eventually brought about his demise because she couldn't stand how horribly he treated other people. And just before his execution, his last thoughts were still on his sister: how was she going to survive without him? He was trying to make arrangements from inside his cell for the livelihood and wellbeing of his sister after his death.

  5. #5
    Junior Member
    Join Date
    Dec 2010

    Re: Can a main character be seriously flawed?

    I never liked Superman, no earthly weaknesses, no flaws, just boring ol' perfection. I've always been attracted to the the flaws in a character, it made them real to me. But more than real, realistic, which I think is one of the most important aspects of any character. Could this person be next to you on the train, passing you in a dimly lit stairway, that kind of thing. Perfect just doesn't happen enough to be realistic.

  6. #6
    Senior Member Herman Munster's Avatar
    Join Date
    Oct 2010

    Should the MC ALWAYS be seriously flawed?

    Of course.

    I suggest a hero is not a person thing.
    The deeds are heroic and by implication the hero is made.
    My choice for my MC, the hero, is that he is a perfect sniper a perfect marksman with one or two 9 mm pistols and immaculate in H2H. His H2H is so good he only hits people once, maybe twice to down or even kill them. It makes for boringly short fights unfortunately, but I can work with that.

    His issue is not with his day to day skills in the spec ops world, it is all about his excessive fatigue which I heap on him as often as possible, his mental instability and his lack of self confidence in his team leadership. Every decision he makes is right and when it is wrong he adds in the new info and makes a new decision. It bothers him that the TEAM are all equally as good as him, if not better, and they always follow whatever he says without question.
    Also, they stand together as four people, somewhat away from him, so he is always worried about what they are talking about, mainly what they may be saying about him and his leadership. Add in the paranoia.

    So this gives me mental instability to work with. Also, I plague him with dead people, ones who died under his command. Often he wasn't even there when they died, but then if he was there, would that not have prevented them dying? The great imponderables.

    So my works are not whether he can shoot or beat up this person but getting in and out, safely or otherwise. What he says is law, no one is permitted to question it now but you can't always control the weather, for example. So they are going here to shoot X at 10 am. Then the airport gets fogged in and they can't get a flight out until 11 am. So you have to rewrite the plan. Now they still have a target but all of Command's best planning is wasted, the ideal opportunity is not there anymore.

    Nat, I am convinced it is the flaws that maketh the hero.
    That is what I see the others above saying.
    Make you MC wonderful, that is why we write about these people as heroes, cos they are nearly perfect at everything. But the circumstance around the hero are what make the BOOK readable and enjoyable. What if the character is perfect, but every job they have to do requires two people and no one will work with him twice? Maybe cos they are not perfect after working with the hero they feel inadequacies they don't want him showing up in them, so they refuse to work with him.
    I mean there are a thousand different problems that can plague the hero with.

    I liked the Superman analogy. Especially if you go back and watch the original TV series. The one with the guy who looked like he was a spritely 40 or 50. He was so boringly perfect, I don't think they had come up with Kryptonite at that stage even.
    I thort he was perfect to the point of boring.
    So I have told you what I am doing to my hero to make the stories readable.
    He may be a perfect H2H fighter who kills with one punch but what if the victim is sick that day and is not at work at 10 am when they were supposed to kill him? You may be perfect or wonderful but the world around you can throw curve balls all day and night. How is your life going/ A few curve balls around you each week? I know I got some if you need some spares to see how the real people live! <HUGE CHEESEY GRIN>

    Nat, please tell me what you think of my ideas.. I really would appreciate knowing your opinion.
    Be honest, nothing less than 100% will do. Good, bad or indifferent. Do I help you with ideas? Have I helped answer your questions as other have?
    I would like to know if you have devised a set of parameters now, that we have helped you with ideas, etc.


  7. #7
    Senior Member
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    Sep 2010

    Re: Can a main character be seriously flawed?

    Flaws did not stop people from hailing Sherlock Holmes!

  8. #8
    Senior Member
    Join Date
    Aug 2010

    Re: Can a main character be seriously flawed?

    Herman, the Superman of the TV series was George Reeves.

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