I wrote Stoned for His Faith, A Christian thriller about an American pastor who is stoned because Muslims do not like the book he wrote teaching Christians to witness to Muslims. This book is fiction.
A reviewer wrote some kind words about the plot and how well I had crafted the story, but then wrote the were disappointed that the hero, a Christian, had flaws in his character. The reviewer lowered their rating on the book of these flaws. Apparently the reviewer expected a Christian hero to be perfect or near perfect.
My hero showed his humanity by being tempted and having been tempted in the past. Everyone is tempted. Should I be using a different standard for Christians than for anyone else? Obviously not. Literature should not contain double standards.
I would be hard pressed to create any character, Christian or non-Christian who is perfect the way the reviewer wants. Even if I did create such a character, it the book would be terrible. Even Superman has a weakness, kriptonite. Writing teachers instruct us to create conflict in our stories. Look how often Superman has to deal with exposure to kriponite. Flaws and weaknesses in characters, and in the hero in particular, help set up conflict. Plots are established, in part, by how or characters respond to conflict. In most stories, the hero overcomes the conflict. Perhaps they are strong enough to win the conflict, but more often, the hero changed during the story to be better prepared to meet the conflict. In tragedies, the hero goes down in flames. The reader mourns their demise but cheers at the limited successes they have achieved in striving for their nobel cause. Even the heroes of tragic stories generally show some change.
As it turns out, every good hero has weaknesses and character flaws. What makes a book into a great book is how the characters each face life in spite of these weaknesses and flaws.
A flawed hero or heroine also gives the author the opportunity to let the hero grow or mature into a less flawed individual. Most readers are thrilled, at the end of the book, to see a hero or heroine who is even better than at first.
Do not be afraid to write a hero or heroine who has imperfections. That makes him or her better. In fact, I often try to build imperfections into my heroes and heroines.
In a week or two, I will write the post: Should Villains be Bad to the Bone?
Reynold Conger is the author of fiction written from a Christian point of view. Please visit his website, ReynoldConger.com.