The Flawed Main Character

Every main character needs to be flawed, at least to an extent. Actually, every character needs to be flawed. No one is perfect, everyone has their own strange quirks and shortcomings. However, what are we as writers supposed to do when our own characters are driving us mad?
My series’ actual main character, a ten-year-old boy, is a total brat. He is bossy, arrogant and lazy, he’s a scaredy cat and he is driven by wanting to be perceived as ‘masculine’, although he really doesn’t have a clue as to what actual manliness entails. One hint, main character: it’s not about being a jerk to everyone around you. If it isn’t clear by now, I really cannot stand the kid. Why I ever picked him to be the lead of my series is a mystery to me. I actually had to quit the third book in the series for a while because I really did not want to have to get into his head again.
On the other hand, I liked the main character’s older sister much better. She’s eleven years old and aspires to become a witch. Although she is totally nuts in the main character’s eyes, she is so much more likeable to me than he is. She isn’t driven by some weird ideal – all she wants is to have fun and to explore the boundaries of the world. It may have been a horrible choice, but she is the reason why I decided to skip straight to the fifth book in the series, where she is the main character. A bad idea, huh? I’m guessing that most boys don’t enjoy reading about girls, especially not about young witches. With regards to my intended audience, it is not the greatest idea. However, as soon as I started writing about her, I immediately found my drive to write back. It may not just have been her, though. Another reason may have been that this is an actual ghost story with a likeable main character, instead of a story about a bratty boy who turns into a mouse.
I am not sure what to do now. I’m definitely going to continue the series. Possibly there will be another book about the girl. That is not the core of the problem, though. The real question is why the original main character turned into such a horrible brat that I couldn’t even stand to write about. I will have to fix that. He will get better over time, that’s for sure. That’s called character development. Until then, I will have to deal with him – and try to iron out his slightly-too-flawed personality. Thankfully, he is just a character in my head. He can change… Reality is, he has already come to life, so it’s going to be hard.
Has anyone else ever had that problem? Some main characters just decide to live their lives on their own… and it feels like there is nothing we can do to stop it. That may be the power of the writer’s mind, but it’s also a curse.

Meet the MCs

After finishing the series’ first book, I felt that is was time to devote a post to the ones carrying the stories: my main characters. I really do not have that much to say today, mainly because my exams are coming up shortly, so this might be the last post for now (my exams will be over in three weeks).

James “Jamie” Lightheart is my actual main character, as the stories are seen from his point of view. Jamie is ten years old, likes to think of himself as pretty smart, likes bossing around other people, is highly jealous and slightly paranoid – although it is generally warranted. On the other hand, he would save his family if their lives were on the line, although he hates admitting so. He is in Year 5 at the local school which he attends (which is both a primary and secondary school).

Levi Lightheart is Jamie’s younger brother, and is around most of the time. He is six years old – although he turns seven in the second book of the series -, is very impulsive, loves food and adventure an frequently gets into fights with Jamie as he does not like Jamie’s attitude. He is in Year 1.

Susan Lightheart is Jamie’s older sister. I haven’t had much time to write about her yet, as she spend almost all of the first book without a face. She could not talk and wandered around aimlessly. However, I do know something about her. She is eleven years old, a little shy but loves teasing her brothers, is obsessed with decorations and dreams of becoming a witch. She is in Year 6.

Alice Wright is Susan’s classmate and some sort of a friend of Jamie, although he upsets her more often than that he makes her laugh. Alice is the daughter of two paranormal investigators. At the moment, she lives with her uncle and aunt, as her parents have gone on a business trip in search of a mermaid. Alice is highly responsible, much more intelligent than Jamie, very serious and relatively quick to annoy. On the other hand, she is very dedicated to whomever she likes and she would give her life if it were necessary – but this is a children’s book; no one is actually going to die. Jamie has a slight crush on Alice, if only because she is everything he desires to be.

Other characters are the Lighthearts’ spy neighbours, Alice’s fortune-telling aunt and tonnes of paranormal creatures surrounding their little village called Coven’s End (that name is the actual thread of the series).

Let’s hope I can stick to these characters this time.