by Sara Mills from Double Crit editing service

Welcome back for the final installment of THE SELF-SABOTAGING WRITER. Today we’re going to use me and my writing as an example. A bad example.

In the first full-length novel I ever wrote, I had a lead character named Maggie. She was strong, she was tough, she was smart, she was sweet and she was beautiful. My critique partners called her Spy-Barbie.


It took me a while to understand why this was a bad thing.

Maggie was a perfect character. She was as plastic and fake as Malibu Barbie. She was the woman I want to be, with no faults, no vices and no warts.

She was possibly, the most boring character I have ever written. She never struggled with the choice between good and bad, she never woke up cranky in the morning and she could eat more than a starving truck driver and never get fat.

THAT IS JUST NOT POSSIBLE!! (Ahem, I may be over-reacting slightly to that last part. Moving on.)

No one could relate to Maggie because she was perfect and she never struggled with anything.

It’s like the difference between James Bond and Jason Bourne. They’re both spies, and both famous characters. James Bond is the equivalent of Spy-Ken. He does what he needs to do and always arrives back in time for pre-dinner martinis. The character of Jason Bourne on the other hand, has to open a map while fleeing across Europe because he gets lost.

Characters aren’t interesting in their perfection, they’re interesting in their faults. Birthing characters with failings, a crooked nose, or a bad sense of direction will help readers relate to your character. It gives your character internal conflict, and it will give your story life.

Double Crit is a unique freelance editing service that offers high-level critiques of fiction book proposals and manuscripts from two experienced editors. Whether you’re preparing for a conference or getting ready to submit your manuscript to editors or agents, we can help.


  1. I loved this series, Sara. Gives me a few things to dwell on, keep in the forefront of my mind. Thanks.


Post a Comment