The perfect protagonist

Rhobin Courtright’s homework for her faithful followers is a flawed hero or heroine, but I find alliteration amusing, so I’ll talk about the perfect protagonist instead.

When I was a student, a club I belonged to had regular discussion topics. One week it was “the perfect person of the opposite sex.” The first speaker started, “The perfect man—”

In walked Bob Montgomery, saying, “Here I am!”

Without a blink of an eye or an extra breath, she continued, “would be terribly boring.”

How true is that?

In fact, the only perfect person I know has never been born.

So, the perfect protagonist is flawed, but in a way that’s one or more of the following: attractive, easy to identify with, and amusing.

In therapy, I often say this:

This points to another requirement: my person needs to grow and develop, precisely because of those flaws.

Enough theory. Let’s have examples.

In June, 2020, our topic was My favourite villain. That’s Will, who features in one of the stories in Striking Back from Down Under. It’s a fun story, so I won’t say anything about Will. Go and read it. Now, or I’ll write about you!


One of my favourite novels is Hit and Run, whose main actor starts as Chuck, but thanks to Aunt Sylvia, he is transformed into Charlie, because “Chuck” is actually a term of abuse. His mother named him that because of a frequent unpleasant experience she had during the pregnancy.

Chuck/Charlie is one of four kids, each to a different father. Mother is an alcoholic and drug addict. She has a constantly shifting population of partners, all jailbirds, two of whom have sexually abused the boy. His two sisters are prostitutes. His current “stepfather” regularly bashes him.

It is not surprising that Chuck hates himself and wants to die. He hates everyone else, and wants to kill as many people as possible on his way out.

Flawed enough for you? And yet, once Aunt Sylvia takes him in hand, he is easy to identify with, and when we get to understand him, attractive and amusing.

What kind of a person does he turn into by the end of the book?

I may be flawed, but I am not stupid. You can buy an electronic copy for a few dollars and read it for yourself. Then please email me a review, and you will have earned a free copy of one of my other books.


I know, I’ve been cheeky with my answer. To punish me, comment at the bottom of the page, then please visit these ladies:

Rhobin L Courtright
Skye Taylor
Anne Stenhouse
Diane Bator
Fiona McGier
Connie Vines
Marci Baun

About Dr Bob Rich

I am a professional grandfather. My main motivation is to transform society to create a sustainable world in which my grandchildren and their grandchildren in perpetuity can have a life, and a life worth living. This means reversing environmental idiocy that's now threatening us with extinction, and replacing culture of greed and conflict with one of compassion and cooperation.
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12 Responses to The perfect protagonist

  1. fionamcgier says:

    Parents have no idea how the choices they make will resonate in their children’s lives. Your example is extreme, but probably more common than we’d like to admit. But having been so down, there’s joy in watching the redemption of such flawed characters.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Dr Bob Rich says:

      If your father had got you onto alcohol, cigarettes and marijuana when you were a little girl, you wouldn’t even know there was any other way. That was Chuck’s mother, but Charlie and Sylvia between them got her to change, too.
      🙂

      Like

  2. Marci says:

    When I think of perfection in literature, I think of Hawthorne’s The Birthmark. Perfection is impossible. Perfection is predictable. Perfection is unrelatable. Excellent hook for your book. 🙂

    Liked by 2 people

  3. Hi Bob, I think we’re all going to agree that perfection is unachievable and boring. Loved your examples. Anne

    Liked by 2 people

  4. Rhobin says:

    Just to punish your cheeky response, I just bought Hit and Run. It sounds interesting and entertaining.

    Liked by 2 people

  5. Skye-writer says:

    Totally agree – the perfect hero or heroine would be boring. Not only that, he or she would be a character the reader would never warm up to or identify with. If the reader doesn’t care, they don’t read the book so – keep on keeping on with the flawed heroes.

    Liked by 2 people

  6. Connie Vines says:

    Great opening! Unexpected plot twists are always enjoyable :-).

    Liked by 2 people

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