The Perfection Method: The Writing Secret of Bestselling Authors


A single technique aptly applied has the potential to dramatically transform humdrum stories into riveting narratives. This special technique is called The Perfection Method. 

Simply put, The Perfection Method is structuring stories to move from imperfection to perfection (or some semblance of it). The strategic handling of perfection often separates beginners from bestsellers.

A key lesson is that “perfection” stories invoke change, upset status quo, shipwreck normal on the rocky shore of imperfection.

Here are a few thoughts on this method: 

  • Perfect characters are (usually) unsympathetic.
  • Perfect characters and situations don’t need to change.
  • Sympathetic, engaging characters most often form between the extremes of complete perfection and imperfection.
  • Both perfect and imperfect characters divorce readers from the desired feelings of attachment, sympathy and concern.
  •  Perfect characters don’t need to change and radically imperfect characters so often lack the essential “goodness” to prompt in reader’s a desire for character redemption.

In short, Perfection is a good finish line but a poor starting gate.

Takeaways for your story:

  1. Strike a balance between character flaws and strengths. Each story and character is different, but both strengths and weaknesses matter.
  2. Design the structure of your story to force the protagonist (and possibly others) to face his or her deepest fear or weakness. This is what gripping, transformative narratives are made of.
  3. In the planning and/or revision stage, double check that the overall trajectory of your story moves from states of imperfection to perfection. Most stories end with the character and situation better off than they were in the beginning (although there are some exceptions).

As a final thought, try not to overly worry about being “perfect” with The Perfection Method. Almost nobody gets it 100% right, even perpetually bestselling authors. Do your best, hone your craft, pursue your passion.

Share your thoughts: How does “perfection” and “imperfection” play out in your story? 


Christopher Kokoski is a speaker, trainer and author of Wicker Hollow and the Past Lives novel series.

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One comment on “The Perfection Method: The Writing Secret of Bestselling Authors
  1. […] The Perfection Method of Bestselling Authors ( […]

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