Our characters are supposed to have flaws, right? They can't be perfect or people wouldn't identify with them. They'd be annoyed by their unrealistic perfection.
But on the flip side, I'd watch out for too much imperfection.
I recently finished One Day by David Nicholls. It's about the relationship between Emma and Dexter. Each chapter takes place on July 15th of different years. You get glimpses of their lives over 20+ years. The format was new and different for me and I thought it worked well. The story was sometimes funny, sometimes smart, sometimes heartbreaking.
I hesitate saying anything negative, but this has been on my mind since I finished the book. My only problem with this book? Emma and Dexter are not likeable. Dexter is annoying, selfish, stupid (in his choices), egotistical, and vain. About the only thing going for him is that he's handsome. Emma is a little more likeable- she's funny and witty- but she also has many annoying qualities like always putting herself down and yet acting all high and mighty with her opinions.
Now I know people make mistakes, they're not perfect. Our characters should be the same. But we need to watch out how awful/annoying we actually make them. They need some redeeming qualities or moments that make up for the stupid ones. Dexter and Emma both had these moments, but they were very few and far between.
Of course others who have read this book might not feel the same way I do. But what I learned from reading this book is to watch out. If a beta or critique partner tells you your character is annoying because of this or that- take note.
Or maybe what I learned is that I'm more into books that don't display quite so much how awful/annoying human beings can be.
What are your thoughts?