I recently watched a movie called The Spectacular Now and adored it.
“I like to think there’s more to a person than just one thing.”
“You think beauty’s in some classroom or some textbook, and it’s not. That’s not what it’s about. This right here. This is beautiful. All of this. That’s all you need.”
But as I thought about it, I wondered what exactly it was that I loved about it. It’s a story that didn’t follow the path I thought it would. I found myself predicting the plot like I usually do, but this time, since I was watching it alone, I was unable to share these predictions in advance. That turned out to be a good thing as I was wrong most of the time. That in itself is always a nice surprise, but the reason I loved it so much was because of the characters and the way they were portrayed. It has the beautiful Shailene Woodley and the talented Miles Teller, (both from Divergent) but instead of piling on the makeup and hiding their flaws, it let their naturalness shine. Their skin is far from perfect but it is real. And they both have problems. Real problems. Miles’ character, as adorable as he is, has a drinking problem and a desire for everyone to like him. Shailene’s character is not confident in herself (although not shy) and entirely too easily swayed by the character played by Miles.
It occurred to me how tempted we are to make ourselves, (or our characters) perfect. By perfect, I mean not flawed. But, perfect characters are boring characters. The girl who always does or says the right thing, the girl who always looks flawless, the girl who keeps everyone happy, this girl does not even exist. And even if she did, I doubt she would create much interest. All of our favourite characters are flawed, and it is the flaws in people that endear them to us, not their perfections. In truth, people who appear perfect are the ones you know are hiding something.
Some of the first feedback I received about my character Willow, was that she wasn’t all that likable in the start of my book. She was naive and a little too wrapped up in herself. At first I worried. Should I re-write her? Should I change some of the scenes in the beginning of my book to make her more appealing? But the more I thought about it, the more I realised that the reason she appeared to be those things, is because that’s exactly who she was. She is naive and focused only on herself, but I hope as people read my story they will see she changes, she grows. In fact now I wished I had made her more flawed. Is she perfect by the end of the story? By no means. And I wouldn’t want her to be.
So I am not going to strive for perfection (who’s to say what’s perfect anyway), I am going to strive for honesty.
And now I’m off to read The Spectacular Now the novel, I will leave you with the trailer for the movie. Let me know what you think.