Character Flaws


I love my characters, but just like the rest of us, they have a few flaws.  Jade has retrograde amnesia and a weakness for Salvador Dali.  Stewart is overworked and a little bitter about the lack of respect he gets from his peers.  Andre is lonely and poor Robyn is a little bit of an air-head but she’s working on it.

They have their strengths as well, but it is their flaws that make them interesting.  It’s when there’s an obstacle in their way that we see what they’re truly capable of doing.  I’d love to make their lives wine and daisies, but would anyone want to read it?  Seriously, that would be dull and instead of pulling the reader through the puzzle of a plot, they would march a straight line to the end, if they read that far.

Imagine what a few character flaws and details could do for your fiction.  For example, your character, like me, HATES spiders.  Normally, she can handle the little ones and goes through the plot unperturbed.  Suppose at a critical moment, she’s trying to eavesdrop on another character and a black widow crawls over her arm.  I know what I would do, but what about your character?  Can she hold it in?  Will her weakness cause her to scream and give herself away?  How does that affect the outcome of the scene and propel your plot?

Flawed details make us human and likable and interesting.  Using these details strategically can make your scenes come alive for the reader.

Now, if you will, imagine your villain.  Not such a nice guy, but just like the annoying co-worker you once had, you have to find at least one redeeming quality in order to make him/her tolerable.  No one is ever completely evil.  In contrast to your Hero, the villain’s weakness may just be his one redeeming quality.

Give your characters flaws, complicate their lives by not letting them get what they want too easily, put delays in their paths.  Each step will flesh out the character for your reader and add realistic detail to even the most fantastical fiction.

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About Judith Gaines

I enjoy the following (in no specific order): Harney & Sons ParisTea A stack of good books Slow walks through art galleries Hiking in areas with no cell phone reception Discovering new cities Playing Reversie and Mancala with my daughter Watching college football with my husband- Go Pack! Baking anything that has lots of sugar and butter ........ and writing View all posts by Judith Gaines

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