Goody-goody characters: don’t use them, I’ve been told. For a character to work, they need flaws. But two of my favorite fictional characters have hardly any. And the flaws they do have seem (to me, at least) fairly insignificant in the scheme of things.
Poe Dameron from the Star Wars universe is the first. I could tell right from the scene above that he’s a straight up good guy: dedicated to his missions for the Resistance, brave, loyal, skilled and fun. What’s not to like? If I wanted to find a flaw, I’d maybe go with the fact that he can be impetuous . . . but, really, I’m reaching.
When Star Wars: The Force Awakens first came out, I read a lot of reviews that compared Poe to Han Solo. Well, okay. They’re both talented pilots with a cocky, smart-ass side. But I think the similarities end there. Han always does the right thing in the end, but he has gray areas that we haven’t seen in Poe yet. Poe’s determination and dedication remind me a whole lot more of Leia.
(Poe’s cockiness doesn’t seem like a flaw to me. Apparently he is as good a pilot as he thinks he is. Same goes for Han.)
Eliza Schuyler Hamilton from the musical Hamilton (and, um, history) is another personal favorite. In the Broadway show, she has an astonishing inner strength and dignity that carries her through a betrayal and multiple tragedies. But that inner strength keeps shining, even at her lowest, as we discover that for all her sweetness and kindness, she’s not a doormat.
Honestly, I find it hard to even name a flaw for Eliza—not as she’s portrayed in the musical.
Granted, neither Poe nor Eliza have to carry an entire show. Poe doesn’t have a whole lot of screen time in The Force Awakens—though, with any luck, we’ll see a lot more of him in Episode VIII. And while Eliza has some powerful and important scenes, her (very flawed) husband Alexander remains the focus of the musical.
Is that the key? Do goody-goody characters only work in supporting roles? What do you think? Can you name goody-goody characters who really work for you—or really don’t? Have you ever tried to write one, or do you stay far away? Let me know in the comments!