#Writing Wednesday: Imperfect Characters are Believable


You ever read a book or watch a movie and think that would never happen in real life?  Heck, I know the feeling.  I had it recently when watching the Bond movie Goldeneye with Pierce Brosnan.  You know the intro part where he rides a motorcycle off a cliff in pursuit of a crashing plane.  Yeah, as you guessed it (if you haven’t seen the movie), Bond catches up to the plane and saves it from crashing and makes his getaway.  Yeah, right.   Now that’s stretching credibility!

But maybe your thoughts are on a scene of a book you’re reading and the main character slips up or overlooks something they should have picked up on.  You think they should have it all together and be right on top of things.  But is that how it works in real life?  When you’ve faced a heartbreaking situation have you always made wise choices?

Think about the circumstances surrounding the scene.  Is the character experiencing emotional distress, or are they experiencing fatigue?  If you think about things from this perspective the scene may begin to make more sense.  Of course, that may not always be the case.

You’ve likely heard of the phrase, real life is stranger than fiction.  The saying holds merit.  Yet, when it comes to fiction, we as authors are advised to stay within guidelines and boundaries.  While it’s true some exist, an author shouldn’t be encumbered by a large list of rules.

My advice is simply to put yourself in your character’s mindset, and if something does or doesn’t happen, there’s a reason for it and (within reason) it’s logical.  


  1. Thank you! This came at the right time for me and my character who now I know doesn't have to have it all together and can make a mistake and get caught.

    1. Happy that the post had the perfect timing for you both. If it's humanly possible that he/she would get caught then it's fair game. Have fun writing the scene :)

  2. Hope you don't mind, I linked to your blog on my own. (I have Wordpress, so I couldn't share it directly.) I'm having some character development issues, and I think this may be one of my problems, that I haven't been separating what I know from what she knows enough, and so am getting muddled. Very simple and well-put advice if I may say so. I'd really like to hear your input on my character problem if you have the time... http://vathev.wordpress.com/2013/02/10/a-call-for-advice-on-character-development-rana/ Thanks for the great advice and hope you get the chance to come visit me! :)


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