In order for your character to be endearing and memorable you must avoid the temptation of making them all good, all strong because the perfect character is not perfect. Your characters must be flawed because that adds to the struggles and that in turn makes a story. Here’s a list of ideas for non-traditional flaws (We are tired of reading about chipped nail paint, nervous chatter and abusive relationships) that you can give you character. This will not only give them depth but it will also make your characters stand out and create inspiration for their individual life stories.
- A character that falls for anyone. The man who gave them extra brownie with the order this morning. The neighbor who helped you with the keys that got jammed in your gate. The icy professor who looks at you different. The ultimate character flaws for a loving character are just that. Not being able to draw the line.
- Chronic procrastination that reeks from the drafts of their entire lives. Write about a character that has their whole life pending because of the inability to diagnose the most common of afflictions: having not found what they truly want to do.
- Write about a messy character. Similar to the procrastinator the messy character will give themselves away in the vivid descriptions of their surroundings. The plates from last night dinners, and the night before and the night before piling on their side table. The paperwork form lifetimes ago taking up the all the shelves in the house from the trinkets of a life there is still. Many psychologists identify laziness as the lack of motivation and the messiness of an individual is directly linked to the degree of self-loathing. Where in contrast the organized, neat individual is the proof of someone that loves or cares about themselves enough to incorporate comfort into every part of their life. Think about it like this: How long have you hated yourself, you didn’t even realize that you’d like sleeping in clean, fresh sheets?
- A judgmental character. Do you know someone who looks down upon people for their feminist values, ridiculing them as Beyonce- wannabes. Do you know someone that looks down upon the people that read on their tablets because of their profound love for a book that they can actually hold? Do you know someone that thinks minimalism is a cry for attention not a lifestyle. Yes! And they are never seen as flawed. Why???
Write about the character that spends their whole life scrunched into the box of their own opinions and measures. Write about the women who don’t wear makeup and dress ‘modest’ because they fear they will never be respected and desired at the same time. Write about the defense they create for their fears which is unimaginatively so, looking down upon the scarlet letters.
- Write about a physical flaw. Don’t write about a life altering scar. Don’t write about obesity. Write about what the small things that only the character notices but they believe everyone else has an eye on. Write about the character whose confidence levels are directly proportionate to size of their forehead. Or the character who fusses about their face not matching the exact tan of their neck. Write about the character that freaks out over their dry cuticles and their teeth being not white enough. Most people are ugly in their own eyes not because of what other people see in them. Write about the people who just make it up in their own heads.
- The work in progress syndrome. I don’t know what to call this particular charter flaw just yet, so bear with me. This character is someone who has understood after testing times that they need to change, that their life needs mending. But this realization makes them bitter, impatient and apathetic. Write about the person who doesn’t tolerate people that look like stop signs to them. Write about the character who believes in divine injustice and selective forgiveness.
- Write about the person who paints a beautiful image of what they would do for the people they care about. Write about the character that loves making plans and promises and then breaks them in careless remarks, in moments of their honest reality. This character is that has always been portrayed for their innocence and wrongly so. Write about characters that get away for their ignorance and insensitivity. Write about them as people that act knowingly just like everyone else.
- Write about the cowards. The meek. They are similar to the WIP characters. Although they are at an earlier stage in life. Write about the stutterers with their panic attacks and their guilt after they’ve lost yet another moment in life when they should have stood up for themselves. Write about their rage because it is there. Write about them with promise.
- Write about the character that does nothing. It is very difficult to understand the flaw in this character. Don’t confuse them with sociopaths because they’re capable of feeling emotions and they are not driven by rage. They are driven by their comfort zone. They are the firm believer of the fact that as long the ground beneath their feet is intact and the roof above prevails there is no need for resistance. They are not people that don’t have opinions, and desires and motives. They are the one that chose to observe silence and subordination because they believe in what they have despite it all. They are the ones that live in dangerous contentment. And they could watch the world burn at the expense of it. This type of character is the most common. Almost everyone you know is this person in their own way. And this the most grievous flaw by far.
- People that go back to things that hurt them, or places that are toxic and drain their energy in hopes of rebuilding them. People who believe in the myth of change.
Let me know in the comments below if these ideas inspired your character sketch and share ideas of your own.
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