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Character Flaws

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Sat Jul 04, 2009 11:18 pm
Angels-Symphony says...

Just as important as the redeeming qualities are the character flaws. Just like real people, characters have their strengths and weaknesses—even those characters that aren’t human. Think of a character’s qualities like a cake: if you put too much sugar, the cake will be too sweet; add a bit more vanilla than needed, and your dessert will be bitter.

teague wrote:
Every character needs to have something debilitating(and no, clumsiness is not debilitating, despite what Stephanie Meyer might think passes as a character flaw) that hinders significantly as the plot progresses.

Since Teague said it best, I'll just translate what she said. Every character in your story must have some sort of blemish, some sort of problem. Character flaws come in all sorts of shapes and sizes, and can be anything from personality flaws to physical flaws. These flaws need to get in the way of the smooth progression of the plot and must be one of the obstacles the character faces throughout the story.

I'll repeat it once more--every character must have character flaws if you want a believable, loveable, admirable character.

Why character flaws are important?
Take it away, Teague.

teague wrote:
It's very simple--nobody's perfect. The best characters are the believable ones, and if you have perfect characters, they're not believable and therefore pretty lame. But it's the mixture of major, incapacitating flaws and smaller, less noticable but just as important flaws that make a character really believable.

I. Personality flaws: antisocial, blunt, rude, perky, uncompromising, temperamental, aloof, passive, hides their emotions, secretive, sensitive, vulnerable when it comes to loved ones, hard to make friends with, reserved, shy, overly critical of self and others, all work and no play, obedient, pugnacious, terse, a follower, addicted to (fill in the blank), stubborn, and so on.

II. Physical flaws: blind, is deaf, can't speak, is missing their right arm, is easily bruised, flat feet, diabetes, prone to Huntington's disease, can't have children, and so on.

Examples: Romeo Montague (Romeo & Juliet)--naive, acts on impulse, desperate for love, doesn't think before he acts, cries too much (is sensitive), blames others rather than himself, vulnerable when it comes to his friends Benvolio and Mercutio (so he seeks revenge). Harry Potter (HP Series)--curious, independent (doesn't like his friends getting involved when it comes to fighting off the bad guys), has a foster family who treats him like dirt, his mind is connected to Voldemort's, has some sort of evil inside him, and is vulnerable when it comes to Cho (the girl he likes). Tom Robinson (To Kill a Mockingbird)--has dark skin (during the time of slavery), one of his arms is rendered useless because it was caught in a machine.
You cannot dream yourself into a character; you must hammer and forge yourself into one.

The writer, when he is also an artist, is someone who admits what others don't dare reveal.

I don't know half of you half as well as I should like; and I like less than half of you half as well as you deserve.
— Bilbo Baggins