Adventures in NaNoWriMo

Character Flaws NaNoWriMo day 7

Nobody’s perfect, but your character flaws can be

Character flaws are the elements that add realism. It breathes life into the people in your story. Without a flaw, your character will seem too perfect and perfection is boring. Don’t let this happen to your story.

Why are flaws important?

This comes back to agency. Readers like characters who cause things to happen in their story. If your character is perfect, you must find an outside force to bring the conflict to her. This will turn your character into a victim. While this may work for some plot points, constantly having a character as the victim will annoy your readers. Characters must do things.

Checklist for a perfect flaw

Make sure you can answer these questions

What is your character’s flaw?

There are hundreds of possibilities. If you are looking for a place to start try the Negative Trait Thesaurus.

What happened in his past to cause this belief?

Backstory is critical to character development. (Just don’t dump it all in the first chapter.) Make sure your backstory caused the flaw.

This belief is reasonable to him because?

Creating a perfect character flaw-www.themanuscriptshredder.comCharacter flaws are based on mistaken views. This means that whatever lie your character believes, he must think it is the logical outcome of his past experiences. in other words, he must think his response is the right one. If your character is out for revenge, he must believe that punishing those responsible is the right choice.

How is this flaw reflected in the villain/antagonist?

While this is optional, it does make the story feel cleaner and will keep the protagonist and the antagonist in balance. It will also allow your villain to more easily exploit your character’s flaw.

How does the character’s flaw affect his actions/the storyline?

Your character must be affected by her flaw. You can’t say your character is selfish and short-sighted and then when it matters, she suddenly has the wisdom of the Buddha. Her flaw needs to guide her actions and cause problems. If her flaw doesn’t affect her, then she really doesn’t have a flaw.

Will the character overcome her flaw? if so, how?

In many story arc templates, the character’s arc is a critical component of the ultimate solution. Without the character’s personal journey, the main conflict cannot be overcome. But this is not always necessary. Your character could also embrace her flaw and learn to use it as an advantage.


Everyone has flaws. Give your character a great one

Flaws give your characters depth and dimension. They make them more interesting and more relatable. Everyone loves an underdog, give your character a great flaw and your readers will cheer.

Enjoy this article? Let The Manuscript Shredder help with your next book

Order your copy of Your Novel, This Month today

Books mentioned in this article (affiliate links)

M.L. Keller is a freelance writer and editor. Her blog "The Manuscript Shredder" is focused on helping emerging writers hone their craft.

Now it's your turn

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

%d bloggers like this: