What exactly is a character flaw? It is a weakness, a mar, or an imperfection that causes the downfall of a character, or adds depth to it, or cause serious damage.
Characters are the heart and soul of your book. You can either make your valuable readers love them, or love to hate them. Mary-Sue characters are utterly boring, which won’t only cause your readers to not love them, but it can also be a cause of booking-snapping-shut kind of boredom. No one in this world is perfect. Everyone has flaws to conceal.
Consider Bathsheba Everdene from Far From The Madding Crowd by Thomas Hardy. In the start she’s full of herself, conceited, and arrogant, but eventually, she comes around as more mature and polite. This is what character flaws do. Some shape up the whole personality, some are there just to make the characters more original and believable, and some turn the plot upside down.
According to Rowling, Harry Potter’s biggest flaw was his anger and time to time arrogance. Tom Riddle was afraid of death, so he created seven horocruxes, and became Lord Voldemort. See, flaws can play a very important role in fiction.
To narrow it down, there are three kinds of flaws.
- Minor flaws—the flaws that are no contribution to the plot but the characters. This kind of flaws is not brought up frequently, but they add much-needed humanism to the characters.
E.g., Bella Swan used to bite nails when anxious.
- Major flaws—the flaws that contribute to the plot, and eventually causes the downfall of one of the characters. These are very important and visible throughout the book. This kind of flaws makes things difficult for the characters, or come in their way, like blindness or amnesia etc.
E.g., Marvin, the paranoid android, suffers from extreme depression, as well as extreme boredom due to his huge yet mostly inactive mind
- Tragic flaws—these flaws are, well, tragic. They cause the characters’ tragic downfall, and eventual death. This fall usually occurs at the start of a story with the story itself concentrates on the consequences of the fall.
E.g., Tom Riddle’s fear of death causes him in creating seven horocruxes; ending up dead anyway.
Examples of character flaw: A drunkard single parent, a gambling policeman, a cut across the cheek of a soldier, etc.
There! You have it. Character flaws can make your characters real and loveable. If you want your characters to be remembered for a long, long time, make them human. Don’t be afraid of making a flawed character, because I’m flawed, you’re flawed; nobody’s perfect, so why should the characters have that privilege?
That’s about it. Hope this post helped you. Drop your thoughts below.