Flawed Characters: Real Life vs. Fiction #books #bookbloggers #Weekendbloghop

After reading and appreciating a string of flawed characters recently: Audra, Nora, Kate, Isabel and Crazy Amy to name just a few, I was thinking about how I would perceive such characters in real life and shamefully concluded that I probably wouldn’t find their individual flaws quite as charming in real life. The irony of this isn’t lost on me.

It seems to be much more palatable to read about characters with a dangerous edge than to accept those around us in real life live with flaws we find unforgivable. No doubt the self-preservation reflex to avoid unpredictability and danger is the root of how we react to aberrant characters in real life, but I really wish I was laid back enough to appreciate the beauty of not quite moral decisions people make in real life.

With the advent of social media it is much more prevalent to make damning judgments of our fellow man vociferously and vocally, but isn’t this just diversionary tactics to diminish and camouflage our own flaws? When we are criticising others we boost our own moral values and attain a superior position from which to look down on others. It mitigates our insecurity to highlight and emphasis our moral security. Is this why we like reading flawed characters in fiction? Are we all looking to be better than the next person?

What is behind our need to find villains and vilify them, when we find a flaws and all character in a book so gratifying to read? Today I ask more questions than I can satisfactorily answer, so please do share your thoughts on flawed literary characters and our aversion to real life flaws. I am genuinely intrigued. 



  1. One of my favorite topics to explore in the book reviews I post on Goodreads, in my reading choices and in my writing. I’m done with villains that we love to hate and interested in villains that inspire a love/hate relationship. I prefer heroes who are villainous and villains who can be unexpectedly heroic. You nailed it.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Characters are certainly more interesting when they are a blend of good and bad, even more so when that line between the two are blurred. It also makes them more complex and hence more realistic.


      1. I agree. That was one of the things I most liked about Isobel in The Light Between Oceans — her flawed character, doing a bad thing for the right reason.

        Liked by 1 person

  2. I think a lot of writers and readers – being people who enjoy (hopefully) spending time on their own – may be people who find they march, at least some of the time, to the beat of a different drum from those around them. Authors who write about people on the edge of society in a positive way make the point (along with whatever story they’re telling) that everyone has worth, whether one fits in or not. My first book ‘Is death really necessary?’ has two truly dysfunctional protagonists. One that I’m working on now has a really quite objectionable main character.

    I do like my dysfuntional characters to learn and grow as people. There is hope for everybody! Except, possibly, Hannibal Lecter …

    Liked by 1 person

    1. So true, Judi we all have our faults and make questionable decisions at times but I like to think my imperfections are part of me in a positive way and have allowed personal growth.


  3. This is a very thought-provoking post. As a reader, I think it’s easier to tolerate flawed characters than people in real life because you have control – you can close the book if they wind you up too much! However, spare a thought for the author. I am the creator of Crazy Amy mentioned above and I find her company draining to say the least. I remember one reviewer writing that he found her actions annoying and frustrating. I told him I sympathised, but all he had to do was finish the book, whereas I’m stuck with her in my head 24/7. I can understand why some writers get to the point where they kill their characters off, and somehow I don’t see Amy reaching a grand old age…

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I think as crazy as Amy is, she has a strong survival instinct at her core. I can’t believe she won’t land on her feet in most circumstances. Control is key, although I often find myself dwelling on the characters even after I have put the book in the freezer.


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