Very true. I mean, how many times have you read a book and thought: No one is this perfect! Or: Well, she made one little error in judgment, but other than that she did everything exactly right. How boring.
On the flip side, readers often adore books with despicable -- or at least, highly flawed -- characters (think Wuthering Heights and Gone with the Wind). Even little Edmund in The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe almost destroyed Narnia with his insatiable greed. Yet we root for him. Sometimes a writer is so good we even find ourselves rooting for a real villain.
There's a no right or wrong way to frame it, but the hero or herione must be real/imperfect in order for readers to deeply feel something. Why? Because that means they're like us. They can change. They can learn. They can grow. They can be mostly likeable people who make some terrible choices. Or they can be decent people stuck in impossible situations. Or they can be wretched people making others’ lives miserable. Many unlikeable characters are extremely passionate about something -- even if it's the wrong thing.
Emma is one of my favorite protagonists. She’s intelligent, but a bit conniving. She’s caring, but also meddlesome. In short, she has authentic flaws.
Who are some of your favorite flawed characters? Do you prefer protagonists who are nice guys/girls, villains, or somewhere in between?