Or Why I Don't Like Special Characters!
You may (or not :) have noticed that I have been reading far less paranormal romance and urban fantasy books than I used too. This is because of the rise of the 'special character'. And by 'special character' I mean those characters that have everything going for them and more. Those characters that everything revolves around. They are popular: most readers like them, most authors write them. I loathe them. Why? It's simple really (and a 'me' thing). I compare myself to them and come up...wanting. I'm...inadequate. By the time I finish the book I'm...despondent (for lack of a better word). Yes, I know they are fictional characters, so I guess what I'm saying it I want realism. I want flaws. I want the not so beautiful, the not so extraordinarily talented and intelligent, the not so feisty (oh do I hate that word!) character (be they male or female) to get the guy. Because that makes me feel that is may be possible (for me)..
And yes, I know feeling inadequate is not a good reason to dislike a character. After all, it's my issue, not their issue. I was chatting about this with my lovely friend Kerry from Too Many Books earlier today and Kerry made a really good point. (And I hope I have articulated this correctly.) The author doesn't need to make a character 'special' in order for the reader (OK, me) to buy into the character. And they definitely don't need to make them more 'special' as the book/series progresses (e.g. Anita Blake). Not. Necessary. Instead, all they need (IMHO) to do is give the character a solid foundation and allow the character's thoughts and actions to speak for them. Patricia Briggs is a great example of an author not imbuing her character (Mercy Thompson) with endless 'special' traits. Mercy isn't what I would call pretty. She's in her early thirties, so no ingenue. While she is a Coyote walker, her coyote form, while fast and agile, is no match for a werewolf when it comes to strength. And Mercy is aware of this. She is like a willow, bending when required (instead of attempting to mimic King Canute and stop the tide), but otherwise standing firm. I love characters like that!
So, what type of character drives you to spit tacks? And how much realism do you like in your books?