Tips Tuesday: No One is Perfect

Jean and I have said this before in interviews and writing tips lists, but I feel like it’s a pretty important thing to keep in mind, and I wanted to expand upon it a bit more.


Now, I realize that a good romance is a fantasy and it’s very, very tempting to dream up an absolutely perfect hero (or two!) and then, of course, if the hero is perfect, you want to give them a heroine who is wonderful and perfect enough to deserve them. And then in the end the two of them can be perfect together in this incredibly perfect fantasy life.

The problem with this fantasy is this: Perfection is boring. If nothing is wrong, then there is no reason to change, and if nothing changes, then where’s the story? The story starts when things change, and normally, it’s when things start to go wrong, that the story gets more interesting. We like to watch people grow and change and overcome adversity, that’s where the fun comes in.  While it might be nice to dream about a perfect life, it’s never fun to read about it.

And even worse, perfection is completely unbelievable (and occasionally gag-inducing). Look, I was lucky enough to grow up slightly spoiled in a loving environment with a pretty healthy self-esteem, but I know that I have faults, and that there are things about me that will probably drive people crazy. I’m also smart enough to realize that everyone else has faults as well – including any potential significant others.

If you want me to believe in your heroine, she needs to have flaws so that I believe she’s human, with room to grow, and real problems so that she has something to solve or survive. The same thing goes for the hero as well. No one is perfect.

The trick that makes a romance work, is not to watch “perfect” people fall in love with each other, but instead to fall in love with two people who feel real and amazing, and whose flaws and strengths complement each other in a way that makes me believe that they are stronger together than they are apart.

I know that it’s harder, but please give me real, interesting, messy characters. Ones with problems and flaws to be overcome, so I can enjoy watching them grow and change and learn how to fit together.  We will ALL have so much more fun in the end. I promise!

“True that he’s no prince charming, but there’s something in him that I simply didn’t see.” –from Disney’s Beauty and the Beast


Author spotlight

Holly West

Senior Editor at Swoon Reads and Feiwel & Friends. Giant geek. Dedicated fangirl. Half-Elven Rogue Cleric. Also answers to That-Girl-Who-Reads-A-Lot.

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