Many people have the tendency to put celebrities on pedestals, to think they can do no wrong because they’re incredible singers or talented actors. Teens want to be like their favorite star, women wish they could have one date with a hot Hollywood hunk, and men want just one night alone with a beautiful actress or model. So it’s easy to see why a writer will use a celebrity’s looks as the basis for a character. I’ve been guilty of that myself. Looks is where I draw the line, though.
When I create a character, I might use some of my favorite actor’s facial features, height, or hair color, but I don’t give my hero celebrity traits. I don’t create him to be idolized. Most people who have celebrity crushes or popular idols don’t want to hear anything negative about their hero. In fact, they will defend that pop star or actress with a fervency that can be quite disturbing.
Characters, on the other hand, need to be flawed. You can’t expect everyone to like your hero one hundred percent of the time. He can’t be 100% perfect nor can he roll out of bed looking like a male Adonis. Yes, he does lose his temper sometimes, or, at least he should. He doesn’t always understand his wife or girlfriend, and he makes stupid mistakes that might just cost him the woman he loves with all his heart. Why? Because his life isn’t anymore perfect than he is.
That’s what characterization is all about—creating characters that are fictionalized but appear real. They could be anyone you meet on the street, not necessarily someone you’d see on the movie screen. Readers can relate more to those normal characters than they can to a hero who can do no wrong. Make him human, give him faults, and make him learn throughout the story. Then he really will be a hero.