The title of this post is a quote from a favorite book of mine, WebMage by Kelly McCullough*. I think it summarizes what should be happening in any book worth reading, at least to the main character(s).
Look at it this way… if you read a book about perfect people who had no vices and made no mistakes, you’d find it a pretty unsatisfying experience, wouldn’t you? In some genres, like mystery, the change in the hero’s personality is pretty incremental, but still, they’re learning things… learning about the crime, the suspects, the victim. Even with that, though, in the better mystery books or series, if the gumshoe makes a mistake that causes problems, he’s unlikely to make the same mistake again. If he does, he’ll probably berate himself for doing it, which also shows some personal growth.
This also means that your hero can’t be a perfect person, at least not at the beginning, and hopefully not at the end. I mentioned that people are finding my mage hero arrogant, at least at the start. I really don’t mind that, because it lets me set up events that help to cure him of that particular problem. For the record, I am trying to make him a bit more of a sympathetic figure in the beginning of the book, simply because I don’t want people putting the book down because they don’t like the protagonist, but I’m trying to do it in a way that doesn’t really mess with his arrogance at the start of the story. I want that facet of his personality so he can grow out of it.
However, this also leads me to some personal reflections… I see a lot of myself coming out in my mage… does that mean I have a problem with arrogance? Perhaps it does, and if so I need to work on it.
Being a writer isn’t always easy, and the writing isn’t always the hardest part. Sometimes you see too much of yourself in your characters and you don’t like what you see. Still, I wouldn’t trade it. I may just be a better person when it’s done, even if I don’t sell a single copy of Librarian.
*If you’re curious about WebMage, imagine if the Greek Gods still existed and now used computers to control magic, turning spells into programs. Now imagine that the Fates have decided that human free will is just too much of a hassle, and have coded a spell to pretty much eliminate it. Toss in one younger member of the House of Fate who likes his free will just fine, thankyouverymuch, but who also has the skill to make the spell run instead of crash. Have one of the Fates ask him to do so. Stir well and watch the fun.