I’m in the habit of giving characters scars, and I’m afraid it might be a forced impurity that I’m really concerned with. No one wants perfect characters, in the halos and rainbows version of perfect. But slapping a scar across someone’s cheek or on the hand they use to gesture with while talking doesn’t make them flawed. And please spare my work from any rakish scars slashing through arched brows.
All characters have flaws, because characters are people, and no person in the universe is without flaws.
Scars are physical flaws that are perfectly fine as long as they don’t become a crutch, an easy nod to the idea of flaws in general.
Am I making sense?
Scars come from somewhere. It doesn’t have to be any great thing.
I have a scar on the middle finger of my left hand. It happened one Thanksgiving when my hand slipped while pulling the bird out of the oven and I touched the cooking rack. I have another scar on my arm where I had a mole removed. My one scar that could actually speak to some life-changing occurrence or character flaw is the crescent moon on the top of my head where someone once smacked me with a candlestick in a fit of anger.
Not all scars leave scars. You can add scars to characters to give them a different look, but no one will care that they once had trouble with the Thanksgiving turkey or visited the dermatologist. Readers might care if they did something worthy of being beaned by a brass candlestick.
As with everything in fiction – well, most things – if it doesn’t serve a purpose, leave it out.
The scars on your characters should go deep.