Posted in Characterization

Character Flaw

According to Wikipedia, a character flaw (sometimes called a fatal flaw) is as follows:


Character flaw – Wikipediaen.wikipedia.org › wiki › Character flaw

In the creation and criticism of fictional works, a character flaw or heroic flaw is a bias, limitation, imperfection, problem, personality disorders, vices, phobia, prejudice, or deficiency present in a character who may be otherwise very functional.

How do you choose a character flaw for your main character? That is up to you. I centered it around the story. Once you choose a flaw, how do you use it within the story? Is it just there throughout and that’s all and the character goes about their business within the story and never learns anything from circumstances or their actions, etc? If that’s the case, do we even have a story? No. Not really.

The protagonist in your story is supposed to learn along the way. Their character flaw inhibits this at first, but gradually he/she comes to realize they need to change in order for their mission/goal/quest to succeed. By the end of the book they will have overcome this flaw.

Example:

Let’s say you have a main character named Molly, who’s in high school. Her flaw is that she’s timid/shy. She doesn’t like confrontation or violence and prefers to avoid it at all costs. She doesn’t like to hurt the feelings of others, so she avoids situations where she might have to speak up and maybe make people angry. Therefore, she doesn’t speak up for herself either. So, how does she learn to overcome this and become stronger inside? How does she get others to stop picking on her? How does she speak up for the truth and defend her friend Johnny?

In the above example, you have to get Molly from point A to point B to point C to point D; point D being the end of the story where she finally speaks up and gets over her shyness. Getting from one point to the next will involve a series of events called trials and errors that will serve as learning opportunities for her grow, but she can’t do this without these trials and errors.

Posted in Fiction

Character Building

So much goes into the creation of a storybook character. The goal is to make them as unique as possible so that they stand out to the reader, making them memorable. But to do this you must build them from the ground up. Go from simple to complex. The more complex the character, the more real they become. After all, humans are complex creatures aren’t we?

As a writer and a human, we are all different and have different writing styles and ways of doing things. This method I am about to show you is my way, so take it and mold it into YOUR way. What you’ll notice after you compile all of the information about your characters, is that you won’t use all of it in your story. BUT you will have it in case you DO need it later. Maybe you want to write a book series, so information regarding your character that you didn’t use in the first book might come in handy in later books.

Beginning (Simple): Brainstorm a list of characteristics. These items are more on the surface and feel free to add to it. My list, should I put it all here, would be extremely lengthy.

  • Eye color
  • Hair color
  • Height
  • Weight
  • Ethnic heritage
  • Age
  • Birth date
  • Religious beliefs
  • Hobbies
  • Favorite color
  • Physical description
  • Political beliefs
  • Favorite music
  • Style of dress
  • Educational background
  • Description of home
  • Contents of wallet (this can say a lot about a person)
  • Habits

Digging Deeper: Here again, feel free to add your own ideas to this list

  • Strong character trait
  • Weak character trait
  • Best childhood memory
  • Worst childhood memory
  • One line summary of their personality
  • What triggers certain moods
  • What is their ambition
  • Sense of humor
  • What is his/her greatest hope
  • Character’s paradox
  • How does he/she see himself or herself
  • Philosophy of life
  • Character flaw (This is essential to the story because at one point he/she realizes this flaw and is able to overcome it. That’s integral in creating their character arc and accomplishing the story goal)

I keep this list written down in my binder and on my computer. It serves me well throughout the writing of my book. I add to it along the way too. Have fun with it.

Character Name: I created the details of my character before I came up with a name. By doing this I was better able to find a name that suited the description of my character. Some names elicit certain unspoken character traits. At least they do to me. For one of my male characters I ended up changing his name two times. I wasn’t happy with his character, so I tweaked it and changed some things, like his reaction to certain events and people. Then I found a better name that fit. You will have your own way of plugging away through this process. That’s good. Make it your own and happy creating.