How Real Is Too Real?

posted in: Books, Michelle McLean | 10

As a writer, I sometimes find it hard to find that exact right balance between real and fantasy. Because as a reader, while I want to be able to relate to the characters I’m reading about, I also want enough fantasy that I can escape from my everyday life and splash around in someone else’s world for awhile.

That usually means that along with all the crazy situations my characters can get into, they also need to be as flawed as real life people. But sometimes, I think writers can go a little overboard with the flaws. They give their characters so many flaws that they either become difficult to relate to or just plain unlikable.

eyeA year or so ago, I tried reading a book that everyone on the interwebs had been raving about. The series had an interesting premise and it was a genre I enjoyed reading. But the main character….oh that poor main character. She was a teenage girl, so yes a little angst and whining was called for. But she was SO whiny that by the end of the first chapter I couldn’t stand her.

I tried to stick with it, but by the end of the second chapter she irritated me so much I was actively rooting for bad things to happen to her. Probably not what the author was aiming for 🙂 I didn’t make it past the third chapter.

So with my own characters, I try very hard to give them just the right amount of irritating realness without going too far in the wrong direction. Hopefully I’ve succeeded 🙂

How real do you like the characters you read to be? Have you ever come across a main character that you were supposed to love but ended up despising?

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