I had reached this same conclusion while very young. My birthday coincides with George Washington's and my birthday cakes were invariably decorated with cherries to commemorate his virtue, he could not tell a lie. Yeah, Sure. It didn't take long to dispel that notion as I began to study the real Father of our Nation. Funny, I discovered that he was far more interesting than the demigod to whom I had been introduced in school.
It was a short hop from George Washington to the truth about all the other Founding Fathers (excuse me, “Founders”). I came away with a new appreciation for them and a challenge. As demigods, their accomplishments were beyond the reach of mere mortals such as I. However, as flesh and blood men, their courage and dedication became accessible to me. Why couldn't I serve a good cause as well as they?
When it came time to write my first novel, I never considered for a moment that my protagonist should be a hero, not in the classical sense. Interestingly, “heroes” in ancient Greek legends were all demigods. No, I gave Nick Andrews a very human assortment of character flaws when I wrote Rebels on the Mountain. Now, as I'm writing a prequel to his story, I'm providing a basis for those flaws. Although I only hint that he was an abused child in Rebels on the Mountain, the prequel will literally describe that abuse. It will also describe the source of the guilt he carries in Rebels from his early experiences killing and maiming enemies on the battlefields of Korea.
Nick also knows fear. After all, courage is not the lack of fear, but rather the willingness and ability to do what is necessary despite fear. Think back over the heroes you have read in books or seen in popular films. How calm they seem even when awash in bloodshed. I can't help but laugh when I remember that the only character in Star Wars who exhibited fear was a robot, C3PO.
Digressing to Klavan and Whittle, they were challenged by a PJTV subscriber to discuss, “As story-tellers, how do you break the banality of decency in a culture that celebrates the antihero?” In examining this question, Klavan observed that the real problem is not so much “the banality of decency”, but rather that we tend to lie about decency. Real human beings have urges and what makes them decent is the restraint they exhibit in not succumbing to them, whereas villains do. (As I said, this program is well worth the price, especially for writers.)
Klavan went on to discuss one of America's favorite story lines, wherein the villain evolves into a hero. (Well, a sort of low-grade, nickel-plated hero.) I could not help but agree with Bill Whittle who cited the example of Al Swearengen from the TV series Deadwood. Here is a saloon owner, a murderer, a pimp of the vilest sort, who begins to display signs of humanity as the series progresses. One scene stands out in my memory, wherein Swearengen assists the suicide of a preacher who is suffering greatly. He cradles the man, almost as a father comforting his child, as he smothers him and whispers, “Go now, brother”.
Swearengen's foil, the protagonist, Marshall Seth Bullock also frequently succumbs to his baser urges. Although Bullock is more often motivated by righteous indignation, he is little more decent than Swearengen.
No boring characters in Deadwood, that's for certain. Likewise, I have attempted to preclude any boring characters from Rebels on the Mountain.