The main character in my YA novel, TOUCHING THE SURFACE, is a seventeen-year-old girl named Elliot. She has flaws--she isn't always likable. I'll be honest--I like a complex character. One reason is a selfish one. I'm very aware that I'm not always a likable person myself, but I always hope against hope that my positives outweigh my negatives. There's another reason though... I love characters with complexity because they require you to be heavily vested and they feel relatable. And sometimes they even make you feel better about yourself.
One of my first real life lessons about complex characters came from my own Grandfather. He was a first rate Archie Bunker--even called my Dad Meathead. I can't fault him for that though. My dad was sporting incredible sideburns and polyester suits.
Despite his flaws, or maybe because of them, he was a wonderful grandfather...
He introduced me to my first english muffin and let me eat four of them for lunch since I liked them so much. He made me change my brother's diapers when he babysat--even though I was only four at the time. He didn't like touching that stuff. He taught me how to wash a car and on New Years Eve we'd go outside on the porch at midnight and bang pots and pans and holler. When he won dimes while playing pool, he'd put them in glass cigar cases and give them to me. He loaned me the money for my first car when I was a senior in college.
He always looked at me like I was precious. He always treated me special. He let me put my grandmothers rollers in his hair.
And I loved him deeply--flaws and all. He was one of my favorite "characters." I miss him every day.