Tuesday, August 16, 2011
Giving a character flaws
Some are an easy cop out. The pretty girl that's full of self-doubt. The brilliant guy who's too indifferent or a womanizer. Those are so worn, that you almost cringe when you recognize them in a book. But they work well in tandem with other flaws.
Others are indefensible. Making a protag a pedophile isn't going to work. No matter what the rationalization, he's not going to be a sympathetic figure for 98% of the readers.
Being insensitive isn't bad. Someone who exhibits bigoted views can be sympathetic as long as they have redeeming features and make progress on the bigotry during the manuscript.
Stupidity is an exceptional flaw, but it really limits the character.
I like to use a smorgasbord of flaws in the characters. Some flaws are more prominent than others. Making them human seems to be the way to go. Humans screw up in a variety of ways. Lovable humans screw up in a variety of ways, and even act cruel, greedy, selfish, petty, etc...at times. Flaws are important. Subtle flaws are realistic. Usually, I just draw on my own flaws to find one for my character.