Flaws Only A Protagonist Could Have

Many authors treat their main characters as the ideal, the person we all dream of being. It’s as if the tiniest flaw would turn the reader off, but at the same time, any character must have the appearance of flaws to be at all believable. The pulpier the book, the more likely the characters are to have these “pseudo-flaws,” but you’ve seen it in classics, too. Personally, I prefer characters who more resemble folks we really know, like Billy Pilgrim, who isn’t too smart and is shaped like a bowling pin, or Shakespeare’s characters, who are so full of themselves that they can’t see what’s coming. Mallory Ortberg brings us a series of vignettes that condense the dialogue you’ve read to get to the heart of this trope.

She wasn’t perfect. She had two different colored eyes, which is definitely a flaw and not a magnetic, compelling, unusual form of beauty.

“It makes you so special,” he told her. She shook her head.

“Bad special,” she said.

“Good special,” he said. She didn’t know what to believe.

“I don’t know what to believe,” she told him. “You think the thing I think is bad thing is good thing.”

“That’s good thing,” he said.


“I just want to be normal,” she said, even though she had amazing powers and a super-family and was mega-gorgeous and better than normal in every way and the entire book would be terrible if she were normal and she had no conception of what normal was to begin with.

There are plenty more of these, and they get more ridiculous as they go on, at The Toast. -via Metafilter

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