Tall, Dark and Handsome–What’s Wrong with That? by Cassiel Knight
One of my favorite sites to visit is Mrs. Giggles.com. She reviews books, movies, game books and more. Her reviews are her honest opinion and she doesn’t pull punches. If she doesn’t like something, she’ll tell you and why. With the books I’ve read that she has (same with movies), I don’t always agree with her simply because her reason to read or watch often seems to be different from mine; however, overall, our interests match. And I love that she reads and watches eclectically–not just a focus on one genre or a particular aspect of a genre. Like me, she reads and watches what interest her and that can cross the gamut of subjects.
Now, this isn’t an endorsement of the site; I’m getting nothing by singing its praises. I just wanted to tell you a little about it because the one thing I completely disagree with her on is rich and perfect characters.
She doesn’t like them and many of her reviews are very clear as to her view of perfect people. However, I love perfect characters.
I have to ask–what’s wrong with perfect characters? We write and read fiction, after all. I read fiction for escape. I want to read about ‘perfect’ characters living their ‘perfect’ lives even if they have to struggle to get those ‘perfect’ lives.
There are tons of articles on writing the imperfect character and dismiss perfect characters as one-dimensional, flat and paper cutouts. They’ve achieved perfection so there’s no need for further improvement. They are the tall, dark and handsome man who stands on the side of right or the beautiful woman with flawless complexion, stunning shape all men love.
Writers are told to give characters flaws to make them more interesting so they suggest making your characters overweight, too tall, too short, with frizzy hair or they are pushy, obsessive, workaholics, rigid, makes excuses, etc. I find those fine secondary characters but I don’t want to read out people I experience in my real life.
So, what’s wrong with the superhero? Or the woman who gives tirelessly and is beautiful? Why shouldn’t I want to read about people like this? Why should these types of characters be dismissed? I’m told they don’t exist in real life. Big deal. I can live with that because I don’t want to read about real life. The fiction I read and write is about escape. If I want flawed characters, all I have to do is pick up a newspaper or go out, any time, into the public. That’s not what I want from my fiction. I want, need and crave characters who are handsome, beautiful and overcome all obstacles with perfect skill and abilities to achieve lives we all dream of. They work and play hard but look great doing it.
How about you? I believe perfect characters also mean different things to different people–writers and readers and I also believe it depends on why you read–the kind of experience you want from your fiction. I’m really curious. I don’t think I’m the only one who enjoys reading about handsome, beautiful and rich characters.