Your character’s strengths and flaws

Filed in CharactersTags: ,

Obviously any good character is going to have a good balance of things they’re good at (their strengths) and things they’re not so good at (their flaws). Here I help you strike that balance.

Creating your character’s strengths and flaws

I hope it goes without saying that a character that has no flaws and can do anything is going to make for a very boring story, unless you can make the character absurdly entertaining in the process. That’s something that only a few people will be able to pull off, honestly, so unless you’re extremely confident in your abilities, have your character lacking in areas that are critical to the plot (whether the deficiencies are moral, psychological, or skill based), to help drive conflict and keep the story interesting. For example, say your hero meets with a royal, who expects respect at all times, and the character himself is a sarcastic, irreverent type of person. His nature could make the meeting go very badly, resulting in the royal not committing the troops that the hero needs to defeat the armies of darkness.

Having them lack in other areas can make for some amusing scenarios or deepen their characterization. An example of deepening characterization: A brutally honest character who’s terrible at feeling empathy for others but is otherwise a good person can create a lot of friction with other characters. This can create a lot of interesting opportunities for future characterization, like one character’s comrades thinking she’s out for herself with her constant abrasiveness showing her true colors by risking her own life to save theirs, and chiding them the entire time.

Though giving your character too many flaws presents its own set of problems, because, after all, who’s going to care about a character whose seemingly sole raison d’être is to be captured again and again and again, without serving any useful role, or one so specialized that it only comes up once or twice? Or a character who’s so much of a jerk or so evil that everyone around them hates them (unless, of course, you’ve created the dreaded Mary Sue, who does everything so perfectly that everyone can’t help fawn over them, regardless of how “perfect” their actions are)? Try to strike a balance between strengths and flaws, if only to avoid drawing the ire of your audience.

Tomorrow, I help you create your character’s backstory. Admittedly, that is one of my favorite parts of creating characters, so I should be able to give you a lot to work with. Also, tomorrow, I start posting twice a day, as this is taking longer than expected.

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