Why Characters Need To Be Flawed


Writer's life, Writing, Writing tips / Sunday, March 25th, 2018

If You Got It, Flaw It

Perfection does not exist, perhaps that’s why we work so hard to achieve it. It’s only human. It doesn’t mean that we succeed. I know my grammar, yet I still make mistakes. Those pesky errors find ways to slip past my detection system, which is basically just my eyes. Anyway, I’m also flawed in more serious ways and definitely not perfect. Characters are people. If you want them to be real, why would you want them to be perfect?

Characters Need To Be Interesting

It wasn’t until I started reading the Witcher books which are so filled with flawed characters, they practically tumble out each time you try to close the book, that I realised most of my characters are boringly perfect. Okay, maybe not boring. They are all quirky and yes, they have flaws. But, they are mostly minor. The best characters have depth. They have good qualities and if they’re sympathetic then they’ll probably have predominantly good qualities, yet still a lot of bad qualities. It may be that the reader doesn’t find out about all of the flaws, but some should make the page. The combination of flaws and other characteristics creates conflict and conflict in a story is ALWAYS good.

Link It To Theme

Characters are linked to the theme of the novel. There’s usually a message or a question that you want your story to answer. What the characters go through is part of that. Flaws help with that. If a theme is ”justice”, your character could desire to help people, but a major flaw could be that he’s very gullible and by believing the wrong person every now and then, he doesn’t achieve justice/his goal. In the novel I’m currently writing, my protagonist is a bad woman. She kills without blinking and will do anything to stay on top. In this story, I want to show that there is no good or bad, just point of views. The reader gets to see how she got that way and also sees that she’s in an internal struggle with her former self and the person she was forced to become in order to survive. Desires that were normal when she was younger, are now a weakness she can’t afford. The character is linked to the theme and what I want to share with the reader.

A Hard Lesson

Since I write character-driven stories, my characters need to learn something. They need to grow. This could mean they learn something from one of their flaws, that they can overcome this flaw or use it in some way. This is usually tied to the theme. Some things don’t change and make the character who they are, perhaps they even have a flaw that is charming. It’s not about a journey to become perfect, it’s about THEIR journey and whatever that entails. You decide. You’re the writer.

Do you have any favourite flawed characters? Please share.

 

 

 

 

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