Apr 20 2016

#atozchallenge Q for Quick Guide to Character Flaws #Writing @RoseFblog

The craft of fiction writing is the Theme for the #atozchallenge 2016 on the blog of @JLenniDorner
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26 writing reference books containing 26 lessons leads to a month of #WriteTips and writing samples

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Q is for “Quick”
Book: Write Away: Quick Guide to Character Flaws by Rose Fischer
My dice roll: 72 (ebook location out of 193)
Lesson: Character Flaws

Figure out what keeps getting a character into trouble. Use the answer to identify his or her main flaws.

Remember the Journey of the Hero from yesterday’s post? That’s where this book suggests looking for those big “trouble” scenes. I’m going to focus on Gwendolyn for today’s example.

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What gets Gwendolyn into trouble most often in the story is that she doesn’t know what she is— but that’s not exactly a character flaw.

Fickle, selfish, and sheltered — Wend has all of those traits, though she doesn’t seem to be aware of it. If she weren’t fickle, her father might not have arranged her marriage for her. Tred suggests that Gwendolyn should put the needs of his children before her own. If she were less sheltered she might not get railroaded all the time, and she probably would have found a better way to travel to New York.

She tries hard to fit the mold of what her parents and religion tell her to be. But she ends up with a strange, secret life that disrupts her normal/ intended one.

Wend is afraid of change, but she is mesmerized by Xavier, who leads a life vastly different from her own.

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All well-written fictional characters have flaws.
What’s your favorite that you’ve come across? Would the story have been the same if that character didn’t have that flaw?

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#WriteTip from Editor Sam

You have to be careful with flaws. I once read a YA novel that was agonizing to finish because the protagonist’s “disregard for authority” made her entirely unlikeable. She was more like a caricature of a rebellious character by the end because she showed no self-awareness. I think even the worst flawed character can be saved in the esteem of the audience if they show that they know they have a problem. Which is not a “favorite” per say, but I do find it to be a solid cautionary tale.

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    • JEN on April 20, 2016 at 12:25 AM

    OK, Visiting as part of April 20th bonus challenge! I agree that characters should have flaws, but the fact that they grow enough to either overcome the flaw that was holding them back or turn their flaw into a strength is what makes a good character-driven plot.
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  1. Flaws definitely make a character more interesting. I recently read a book that, though I enjoyed the overall plot, the character drove me nuts because she was perfectly perfect in everything. No one is perfect. Flaws make characters unique.
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  2. I’m re-reading some of my writing books and was just reading about how to add depth in Larry Brooks’ Story Engineering. He talks about the three dimensions of character: 1) what is; 2) backstory; and 3) choices made. Flaws fit into all three. The point of most stories is to overcome flaws and backstory to change the type of choices being made.
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  3. This is some good information. I will have to take out all my character sheets and see if I have a character flaw listed for them. I think one of the biggest for my main character is he’s always sarcastic. If someone makes any sort of statement, he’s very likely to make a sarcastic retort.
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    • Juneta on April 20, 2016 at 2:06 PM

    I think flaws help make a character more enduring if done right. There is not a human born that does not have flaws no matter how nice or good, but it is the choices they make and the way struggle through their flaws that make me love them, hate them, like them or wash my hands of them., Great Post
    Juneta @ Writer’s Gambit
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  4. My character is the curious type; although it isn’t really a flaw, it has gotten her into some tight spots.
    I really like the idea you’ve covered today about figuring out what gets the character into trouble. I’ve never quite looked at it that way before.

    Gail’s 2016 April A to Z Challenge
    Theme: The Fun in Writing #212
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  5. You always need a balance between flaws and qualities in a characters. Some people tend to write their characters just so good. Nice post and thanks for stopping by. Happy A2Z.
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  6. I totally agree that characters need flaws, otherwise they feel too good to be true. It can be hard sometimes to give them realistic flaws and keep them likeable to the reader though
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  7. This is a great blog! I write computer manuals but I have a couple of children who do write. These are helpful pointers. Thanks.
    Good luck finishing the month.

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