Their characters, that is. I see this occasionally in a submission-- a writer so enthralled with a character that, like an indulgent parent, she "spoils" the character. (Heck, I've done it myself.) Loads him down with great skills and talents, and at the same times fills him up with all sorts of angst and other important feelings. Most often, the character is shown being victimized (despite his wonderfulness, or BECAUSE of it) by others in the story.
I'm not sure what divides this from just creating a sympathetic character. But I know it when I read it-- this author loves Troy way too much. But what's "too much?" You ought to love your central character. You're going to live with him for a long time. So when is it "too much?" Examples?
I'm thinking one problem is "favoring" the character. Again, of course we favor our central character. He's central, after all. But the reader can probably tell when we're lavishing blessings on this guy that we withhold for everyone else in the book. He's the only one with any depth, he's the only one who has any real talent, he's the only one who has conflicts or contradictions.
I also wonder if this triggers in the reader some unconscious sibling rivalry. I know I (and I have seven siblings, so I know sibling rivalry :) tend to immediately resent the Favored One. Hmm. I bet the author identifies with that one, lavishes the blessings that he didn't have himself, never imagining that I (the automatically resentful one) would take all this blessing stuff as an affront.
And why, I ask you, does the creation of characters in a book so often remind me of childhood and parenting? ("You don't want to favor one child, I mean character, over the others.")
How do you know when you love a character too much? How do you know when that will have a counterproductive effect on the reader?