One of the things people have commented on about The Well is the flawed and often conflicted nature of the characters – thankfully, they’ve commented in a positive way.
I’ve always been fascinated by characters who have a degree of duality. As an example, I find Batman far more interesting than Superman. Batman is arguably a violent vigilante with significant Daddy issues. He takes the law into his own hands and often serves up his own justice. And yet, we regard him as the hero. In contrast, Superman is a boy scout who never does wrong. Indeed, he’s so nice that he’s not only dull, he’s characterless.
I’ve heard it said, quite rightly, that Superman is the one superhero who dons his costume to become himself – where others don them to hide their identities. But I also think he’s a rare breed – a long-lasting character without any real flaws (other than a bizarre reaction to Kryptonite).
James Bond is a womanising killer. Tony Soprano is a gangster who needs therapy to get him through. Greg House is the least likeable doctor you’d ever meet. The list goes on.
To me, the conflicted nature of people is what makes them interesting – with the possible exception of the über-baddie, where bad for its own sake can be fair enough.
These are the characters I want to read about – and consequently, these are the characters I want to write. If you read The Well, you’ll find that even the protagonists have some fairly significant flaws – and some characters almost sit on the good/bad fence (for example, a policeman who is a loving father but a violent husband).
Hopefully, they’re not obviously painted characters with contradictory behaviours, such as Harvey Dent, or Two Face – but are richer, more realistic people as a result. And far more interesting.