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  • Devon McKay

Why must we torture our characters?







Why must we torture our characters?

I’m drawn to characters with flaws. The more troubled, the more I’m intrigued. Hand me a story with a rough and tough guy booking down the road of self-destruction and I’m hooked. Add a stubborn, emotionally damaged damsel in distress and I won’t be able to put the book down until I’ve read the last page.

What is the lure? Why do I prefer reading books that harbor a tortured soul over a character without flaws? The answer comes easy. Perfect is boring, and quite frankly, unrealistic. We are human after all. Emotions often overrule control and common sense. It’s in our makeup. I’d much rather lose myself into the chaos of a life frayed and join the ranks of other readers cheering the character on as they develop, grow, and learn from their mistakes.


Another great tip I’ve gained as a writer is to add a good dose of torment. Torture your characters. I know it sounds awful. Why would any author want to put their beloved characters through mental or physical trauma? For starters, it makes for a more interesting read. Who wants to dive into a story where you can’t relate or connect to the characters? The more anguish a character endures, the more a reader becomes invested and is less likely to quit reading.


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