Thursday, September 12, 2013

Character Flaws

by Katy White

I have a sister-in-law who is darn near perfect.  She is beautiful with three incredible, well-behaved, yet spunky, children.  She does her visiting teaching early and goes to the temple once a week.  She volunteers to do service whenever the Relief Society President has a need.  Her home is always in order, her meals are always delicious, and she runs seven miles a day, six days a week (Sunday is her day off).  On top of all this, she likes really cool music and reads really great books.

It's almost nauseating.

But do you know why I adore her rather than wanting to avoid her and her stupid near-perfection?  She cheats at games.  Any game you play with her, you know she's going to cheat like she's a figure skating judge in the Olympics.  Playing Dominoes with her?  She's sneaking the best tiles.  Playing Monopoly?  She's skimming from the bank.  Playing Apples to Apples?  She's manipulating you into thinking that the best card is hers so you don't want to pick it, thereby increasing the odds that you'll pick hers.  Girl is a sneak.  I love it.

She also speeds.  She speeds like the hounds of Hades are on her heels.  She goes to traffic school like her kids go to regular school.  She has a budget for tickets.  (Okay, maybe not the last one, but it's close).

In other words, she has these delicious character flaws that make me overlook her perfections and see her as being totally and completely human.  Because being human means being flawed.  None of us is perfect.  That's why we like each other.

That's also why we like characters in books.  There's nothing duller than a character who always makes the right choice.  There's nothing that makes me less likely to root for someone than knowing that there's nothing, really, to root for.  If the only thing keeping a character from achieving a goal is external forces, I probably don't care a lot about that character or her goal.  I need to see holes in her game.  I need to know that she's going to make interesting, bad choices on occasion.  Because then I can root for her to overcome the consequences of those choices and grow as a character.

So while I realize the goal of mortality is to strive for perfection, I hope my sister-in-law keeps cheating at games for a while longer.  Rooting for her to lose at Settlers of Catan is my way of rooting for her to win.


  1. Love this! So good to remember. I’ve been having some problems with my characters being a bit 2-D, so I think this will help me quite a bit. :-) (And omigosh, I don’t think I could handle being in the same family with someone like that and not hating myself- good for you!)

  2. Thanks, Kasey. I won't lie, there are moments when I look at my house after cleaning and ask myself if it's even close to her standard. But then I remember that I'm a better cheater at games than she is, and I'm going to wipe the floor with her at Mexican Train next time! LOL ;)



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