Monday, September 12, 2011

Character Flaws

I’ve been gone for a couple of weeks. My daughter had emergency back surgery. My crisis is over and my daugher is fine. Do you ever feel flawed? Sometimes I feel so flawed! (I guess my characters do, too.)

Character Flaws
Are your characters perfect? Sometimes we want them to be the heroes—to be bigger than life and better than anyone else.
When I encounter that kind of protagonist in a story, I can’t really identify with them because I’m so full of flaws myself I know I’ll never be like them. I don’t really find myself engrossed in the narrative as if I were part of the story world.
So, I must give my characters some flaws. What kind of flaws should they have? That depends upon what you want them to learn during their adventure.  What is your character arc going to be? Plan the end from the beginning and make your characters real for the reader.
Internal flaws vs. External flaws
I think it’s fun to give a character some external flaws as well as internal ones. For instance, I have a little Polish girl that is always biting her fingers. Sometimes they even bleed. She can’t seem to stop, and it’s frustrating for her. Find a fun way to tie these flaws into the story. They can even forward the plot.
Internal flaws must be more thoughtful. The driving need at the beginning of the story will engage us immediately with the main character. We will feel his or her struggle and make them our own as we read. I just finished “The Traitor’s Gate” by Avi. The hero is thrust into the role of finding out if his father is a spy. What a lonely place to be! He has no one to talk to or help him until he meets a ragged street urchin who cleverly helps him and becomes a friend.
If I study by own needs, I can find those of my characters.
What flaws have you given your characters?


Linda Garner said...

What a great idea. Flaws. We all have them. Why not our characters? Why didn't I think of that.

Oh, and welcome back, by the way.

Love LG

Dawn Ius said...

So glad your daughter is ok! I broke my back when I was 18 and it was a scary time. Sending her warm thoughts.

Ah yes. Flaws. I'm getting better at them, but on the beginning, I shied away from them, thinking my characters had to be perfect. At the time I didn't realize I'd made them cardboard.

I aim for an internal flaw, and a physical flaw - often connected.

Elliot Grace said... order to "to keep it real," characters must have flaws, even the heroes. Adding character flaws are what keeps a manuscript interesting, and most importantly, off the slush pile ;)