Yesterday I received a rejection notice from the publisher I had submitted (one of) my books too. Unfortunately, it was the book I felt the strongest about. So I've been in a bit of a funk trying to decide what to do next - and one option includes giving up on my dreams of being a writer and just trying to live day-by-day until I finally die. Dreams are dumb and never come true anyway, so why bother?
Tonight I had an interesting discussion with my wife. The book that I submitted was one that she wasn't too fond of, because she didn't like my protagonist. So we had a good discussion about protagonists and the nature of the hero.
I suppose one of the things I tend to do with my protagonists is to write into them what I would want to see in a hero - namely someone who isn't motivated by a tragic backstory (e.g. Batman, Spider-Man) or wrestling with a secret past or inner demons in order to try and do good. I want a hero that does good things because he (or she) is a genuinely good person. Sure, they may have their struggles, but they pull through, do the right thing and carry on to win the day. I like to take the "everyman" approach - after all, not everyone is motivated to do good things because they're suffering a guilt trip from their home planet being blown up, or because they stole a candy bar in fifth grade, or watched their best friend get run over by a train, or whatever.
My wife thinks characters like that have a tendency to be flat, shallow and unrealistic. She says that lawed characters tend to do better because people can relate to them more. Yes, even if they can shoot webbing out of their wrists and cling to walls. But it's the flaws that the characters have that make them relatable, and thus, likable. People like to read about flawed characters who wrestle with their inner demons because, at heart, they are flawed characters wrestling with their inner demons.
So this is a question for all you readers on the forums - what do you like to read in a protagonist? Do you want to read about heroes who strive to always do the right thing simply because it is the right thing to do? Do you prefer to read about characters who are only motivated to do good because of some sort of issues in their past or personal obstacle they need to overcome? Or, on the other hand, should I ditch the idea of writing about good characters, and take more of a villainous, anti-hero approach? Basically, a real scumbag who kicks puppies into bonfires, yet he's depicted as the hero of the story?