We Are Flawed; Each And Every One

Friday, September 20, 2013

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I know I've touched on this one from time to time, or at least mentioned it: the best characters are the ones flawed, yet somehow still lovable. A well-placed character flaw or mistake is the defining line between a subtle, naturally fearsome villain and that awful wolf-in-wolf's clothing that's so easy to depict.

Often, however, it can be difficult to determine what makes a good character flaw - a natural one, and what is simply throwing faults in the face of your reader so she knows your characters are human too. I must disclaim, as I so often do, that this in no way means I old the upper hand where deficiencies of character are concerned. But I have learned a bit in my writing endeavors, and whenever I learn something I like to share it, to give a sort of bolster to my writing compainions' and, in fact, myself. They say you don't know something until you teach it to someone - well, maybe that's what I'm doing here. ;)

Self-Deprication/Doubt
You all know what I think about this in one's self - however, it's a common character flaw, and an excellent one for weaker characters. I wouldn't recommend using this too loosely, however, as it makes the reader wonder about the validity of the character's thoughts/feelings/words, especially in first-person narrative. 

Nail-Biting
This may not be a legitimate character-flaw. In fact, it probably itsn't. But it does make for a miraculously real character. How many people do you know who chew on there nails from time to time, especially in energy-rich situations? The number is probably larger than you would think

Mistakes
I don't like to choose favorites when it comes to character flaws - certain ones work for certain characters better than others. Mistakes, however, are essentially a must-have for all characters. I can't tell you how many times I have read a book and thought that the characters were alright, but too perfect. This is especially touchy with main characters, so tread with caution

Weaknesses
Please, for the love of good writing, give every character at least one weakness. Perfect heroes/villains are dreadfully unexciting. 

Unpretties
Having perfectly gorgeous characters with flawless skin, well-cut bone structures, gorgeous hair, swoon-worthy eyes and straight, white teeth is just a bit too much. (Unless, of course, your story is about a race of Perfect-People, like the Greek gods and goddesses. In which case, skip right on to the next flaw, if you please.) No human being looks perfect all the time. It isn't natural. Give your character  a beautiful smile but slightly crooked teeth, wild hair that won't follow instructions, or lovely skin but muddy-coloured eyes. It will give him/her a more natural depth.

Pride
Oh, that cursed vanity! Pride is an excellent character flaw, but it's found all too often in villains, and used as their one "un-doing". Unless you can find a new, creative way of maneuvering this old trick, I would steer clear from using it as the villain's main issue. But it can make for excellent (and rather witty) side characters, and a little pride in your protagonist is never a bad idea either.

Any other character flaws I missed? Tell me, writers!

1 comment

  1. Those are my favorite flowers!

    Lauren,
    http://atouchofsoutherngrace.blogspot.com/

    ReplyDelete

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