Writing Tips & Help: Flawed Characters

When writing, it’s important not to make your character a Mary Sue. This is harped on for a lot for obvious reasons. Having a character that is perfect or able to solve all problems by themselves is not realistic or interesting. In fact, I find it frustrating when I read something where the protagonist is absolutely perfect. This does not mean giving them a flaw or two and then dusting your hands off either. That’s still not believable. For instance, having a character that is beautiful, intelligent, able to solve everything and then is just clumsy is not an offset or a flaw that’s large enough to make up for the other things. That also doesn’t mean making them so irritating that people won’t identify with them or find them enjoyable to read about. This also includes characters for video games, TV and movies.

Some Flaws to Think About:

Naivety

Overly Commanding

Nosey

Lower Intelligence

Loud

Irresponsible

Low Self-esteem

A lot of really well known characters have major character laws that simply define who they are… And also work to drive the plot. These flaws can be mental or physical.

Well-Known Characters and Their Flaws:

Harry Potter: Impulsive

Sherlock Holmes: Egotistical

Peter Pan: Self-Centered, Childish

Finn the Human (Adventure Time): Loud

Jack Sheppard (Lost): Stubborn

Hiccup (How to Train Your Dragon): Lack of Strength

Flaws can be obvious, or present themselves as Character Traits until they become a problem when something arises in the plot of the story. An example would be Peter Pan demanding that Wendy stay and be the mother for himself and the Lost Boys due to him being self-centered. You should always be aware of your character’s flaws and incorporate them into your writing. However, it’s just as important that you don’t ignore your character’s flaws. For instance, knowing that Jack Sheppard is stubborn, it doesn’t make sense for him to easily cave in when he’s got a plan in mind or follow someone else’s lead without a fight. That being said, your character can slowly learn to use their flaws to their advantage or part of their character development could be them moving past one of their flaws and growing as a person.

Do you write? If so, what flaws have you given your characters?

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