So I watched The Lucky One the other night. First thing I noticed was that Zac Efron is growing up quite nicely. The second thing was that his character, Logan, was perfect. I mean, like really, REALLY perfect. He’s incredibly good looking, he can fix the tractor no one else could get running, he plays piano, he reads philosophy, he’s good with kids and dogs. In fact, about the only thing he can’t do is beat the heroine’s son at chess. And come on – he plays chess!
In writing, there’s a term – Mary Sue. A Mary-Sue is a character who is overly idealized. She’s good, she’s kind and the she’s the bestest person who ever walked on the planet.
Logan in the Lucky One was a male Mary Sue.
Now, I haven’t read Nicholas Spark’s version of the story, so I’m going to assume the book had some deeper back story which gave Logan additional depth. But I don’t like perfect characters – even if they are pretty and have rock hard abs. I prefer my characters to have some flaws, some humanity. After all, no one in this world is perfect. Think about some memorable characters – - Sebastian Ballister, Zsadist, Dean Winchester, Rick Castle — we loved them because they were well-drawn, well-rounded characters with both good and bad qualities. They can be angry and short-sighted just as easily as they can rush in and save the day.
Unfortunately, too many writers make their heroes like Logan — too good to be true. It’s as if they believe that to sell a fantasy lover, they have to make the hero fantastical.
So when working on your novel, resist the urge to make your hero too good. Give him a flaw – a real flaw, not simply the inability to play chess – and let him be human.
Barb Wallace’s latest book features a hero who is good with his hands, and afraid of success. You can read about Grant Templeton in Mr. Right, Next Door, available from Harlequin Romance.