Characters 101: The Importance of Weaknesses

 by Michael Esser

 

When you create a fictional world, you include all the vivid imagery so you reader can envision himself there. Often, however, the characters that a writer devises to fill that world are left are only partly defined. Of course, it’s generally easy to see the strengths in the characters. But it is also highly important to develop their weaknesses.

A character's weaknesses are critical to establishing the believability of his profile. None of us is perfect. Similarly, characters can’t be perfect either. Flaws, especially when worked into a character's make-up, can make the difference between a liked and a loved character.

Again, flaws make a character realistic and interesting. Knowing a character’s fault can lead to an emotional response in the reader in the form of sympathy. And the more emotional reactions a writer triggers, the better his story will be received.

This is a crucial part of characters’ development. Without it, it's going to be nearly impossible to develop them into meaningful characters. You want a “human” character that people can relate to. Character flaws are necessary ingredients to the make-up of such characters.

The types of flaws you can instill in your myriad characters are only limited by your imagination. Look around you at all the people you know and see the wide array of problems they face. Use those problems in your own way to define your players. Whether an emotional weakness, such as fear, or a physical weakness, such as some sort of impairment, make the flaw unique and let your character own it.

Perhaps your character will have a quick temper that causes him repeated trouble, or his impatience will cause him to react irrationally. Maybe he has a chronic problem with being late all the time, or a serious moral flaw that leads him to feel that it is all right to kill.

Whatever flaw you choose to inject into your character, you should use it to move the story along, or, alternatively, to block the action. Make the flaw an integral part of the overall tale. You can use it to stop the action in an appropriate spot or even as a tool for creating tension in another situation.
After all there is strength in weakness. So get going and draw up your characters, flaws and all.

Information provided by the Author Learning Center.