Now, I won’t mention the title of this book, because I literally don’t remember it. But it was a book where a guy from another dimension was sent to earth to protect a girl from demons, and they fell in love. Sounds cool, right? But the author avoided danger and conflict like we want to in real life. There were moments of danger, but they passed far too quickly, and moments of perfection were dragged out. The main girl had a birthday party coming up, and things had been so good and perfect for so many chapters leading up to it, I was sure, 100% sure, that there would be a demon attack at her party. Or at least something would go wrong. I was very disappointed when the party went by without one moment of imperfection, let alone danger.
I understand the idea of readers living vicariously through the main character, and how on the surface, it seems nice to let them live out a perfect love story. But if there’s no danger, there are no stakes, and the “perfect” love story doesn’t seem worth anything.
Also, too much perfection isn’t relatable. Even someone who believes they’re beautiful always has at least some aspect of their appearance they don’t like. And in a magical world, where people generally have one gift, it’s way more fun to read about a character who has none at all than one with multiple gifts.
Less perfection means more struggles. More emotion. More development and growth. If you’re shying away from letting your characters have this, ask yourself, do you shy away in real life? Maybe you never do, and you’re writing vicariously to give yourself a break. Or, maybe you often do, to the point where feeling your character’s emotions scares you.
Our job as writers isn't to put readers in a place where everything is okay, or going to be okay on the next page. Our job is to take them on a journey. Why do you love reading? If it's for those beautiful, perfect moments, as yourself why you appreciate them. It's probably because they were fought for and well-earned.
Let your characters struggle and grow. The best books out there make people feel uncomfortable. This means you, the writer, have to get more comfortable with what scares you. It might not be easy at first, but you’ll actually have a much better writing experience this way. You’ll have more fun, and probably learn a thing or two as well.