Characters Need to Be Perfect! Real People Can Screw Up!

Legends of Windemere

Over the course of this year, I’ve seen several authors talk about reviews complaining about character intelligence.  Specifically, readers hate when a character makes a ‘stupid mistake’.  They feel it ruins the story and go on a rant.  I think we’ve all seen this in action and had this reaction as well.  Yet, there is something to consider: REALITY.

First, let’s admit that we’ve all gotten annoyed with a character who makes a stupid mistake.  It’s usually something that ruins an established plan or causes the plot to take a sudden turn.  We think it’s contrived and done entirely to extend the story, which isn’t entirely true.  A character could be perfect and make every right decision to reach the ending fairly quickly.  That would be boring, but it’s feasible and what people unwittingly ask for when they rail against character mistakes.  Oops.

This reaction is born from frustration and…

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