1. MatthewR
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    MatthewR Member

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    Character with Flaws

    Discussion in 'Character Development' started by MatthewR, May 26, 2011.

    Everyone has flaws, and my entire novel focuses on the humanizing flaws in all the characters. One character I feel is lacking depth right now though due to his almost inhuman perfection. He's young, cocky, and aside from being the apparent "victim of circumstances" that drag him into the plotline I feel he is a little sur-real.

    > young man of a wealthy family, he was adopted and an only child (twisted into the plot line and NO not a Luke Skywalker type situation). Another character actually calls his dossier "painfully dull".

    > Events begin to swirl around him sucking him in, but again I feel I need a character flaw or some kind of baggage for him to face.

    > He gains plenty more baggage as the book continues; betryal, heartbreak, torture, and ultimately he loses people close to him.

    Thoughts?
     
  2. Corbyn
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    Corbyn Lost in my own head Contributor

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    Well the fact that he was adopted into a wealthy family could be a hang up for him that makes him more human. I mean just because he was adopted into that family doesn't mean that it was easy on the guy just because his family is rich? They could have adopted him simply for the sake of appearing to be a caring concerned citizen or something. You could go many ways with that and how it tortures and shapes your character.

    You should check out Mallory's character development line... It might help you.
     
  3. Ellipse
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    Ellipse Contributing Member Contributor

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    Does he mature as the storyline progresses? If he is the same character at the end as he was at the beginning, that could be a reason for him feeling surreal.
     
  4. SerenaYasha
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    SerenaYasha Member

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    sad happy

    how about he hides his emotions, he acts like every thing is fine even when its not. he only lets himself cry when he is alone or in a place no one can hear him.

    it could be his feeling for being sucked into the plote

    or

    about being adopted in a rich family ( or even wonder what his birth mother gave him up)

    this is something a lot of poeple do wheather they mean ot or not so a lot of poeple will be able to relate to him
     
  5. Killer300
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    Killer300 Active Member

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    Also, what if these parents were abusive? Perhaps he hides the abuse under a seemingly perfect exterior.
     
  6. Islander
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    Islander Contributing Member Contributor

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    Adopted children are overrepresented in many statistics like suicide and drug abuse. Even with perfect parents, they may have trouble coping with life.

    Rich kids can have almost any problem other kids have. In addition, they may have the problem of not knowing who their friends are and who wants to get at their money.

    Maybe your character has a deep-seated suspicion and is never really sure someone is their friend?
     
  7. mc1ate1mad1cow
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    mc1ate1mad1cow Member

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    Every character doesn't have to have flaws to provide depth to it!
     
  8. Mallory
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    Mallory Mallegory. Contributor

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    Here is a link to that thread: http://www.writingforums.org/showthread.php?t=38469


    From what I can gather reading your original post, my concern is that too much happens TO him, as a result of happening because of him. Sure, unexpected events and sucky situations propel a plot, but if those are all that causes the MC's predicaments, he will definitely come across as "poor little victim," which seems to annoy most readers.

    My recommendation: Pick a flaw, and keep it consistent. Avoid something that's cliche or that's really a good trait spun as a bad trait (i.e. "He loves to maintain and defend honor so much that he'll move the Earth to do it, and is a bit impulsive in the process because he cares about justice even in the heat of the moment.") Instead, do something that everyone can relate to, and that might actually cause a person problems in life. Think of the key flaws that famous book and TV characters have. Obsessive-compulsive tendencies; addictive personalities; gullibleness; etc.

    With a consistent flaw, your MC will not make the right choice all of the time, as a result of the flaw. This takes away the perfection issue. However, it's important to keep the flaw consistent, because readers hate when MCs make idiotic decisions for what seems like just the hell of it.

    For example, I don't know if you've ever seen the detective show "Monk," but he has OCD. In one episode, he's hiding from a bad guy in the library, sitting perfectly still behind one of the shelves. The bad guy sees no sign of him, and if he keeps still, he might get lucky and undetected. However, Monk sees a book that's tilted in a weird angle off the shelf, and his OCD causes him to panic to the point where he has to expose himself to danger fixing the book.

    That example is a bit more extreme than you probably want, but it illustrates the point. If a character did that just because, you'd think "What a moron," want to slam their head against a wall, and probably put the book down if it happens several times. However, because of Monk's predictable and consistent quirk, it makes sense.
     
  9. MatthewR
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    MatthewR Member

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    Thank you, this was definately the line of thought I was looking for.

    The adoption thing is kind of already covered, as his parents kept it seceret, although through a different 1st person chapter from his father the readers discover the Father's deception.

    I feel like OCD is a bit over done. He does come off as a bit niave as he keeps getting dragged into these situations and yes he does progressively learn.

    I definately agree that he needs to put some of the plot sequences into motion or else he will get the feeling of simply :being along for the ride"
     
  10. StrangerWithNoName
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    StrangerWithNoName Longobard duke

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    Characters with flaws are fun, but the writer should be aware of not making them psychotic cases...like in most of the heavy thinking of this thread...
     
  11. Mallory
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    Mallory Mallegory. Contributor

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    I'm not saying to make the character OCD or a psychotic case. The Monk thing was an example. What I said was that the writer should give the MC a flaw that will cause him/her to make mistakes in a way that's consistent and in line with his/her personality.
     
  12. Corbyn
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    Corbyn Lost in my own head Contributor

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    Nobody is perfect. Or exactly the same. Flaws are what make people interesting. In shaping a character most writers try to make the character believable or at least plausible within a story.

    That is the point I was trying to make. Does that mean that I believe every character has to have a reason for what they do or come from a broken home or yadda yadda yadda.. no . Sometimes people and characters will do things despite their nature.

    Either way, you need to have a descent character arch so that you understand how your character might react or grow into or deal with situations in your story.

    Easier said than done I know. But that to me is the point behind character development.
     
  13. Ged
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    Ged Senior Member

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    The first thing that came to mind when reading this was that this character could feel like he doesn't belong. Does he know he's adopted? If so, since when?
     
  14. Gigi_GNR
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    Gigi_GNR Guys, come on. WAFFLE-O. Contributor

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    You could go deeper into why he was adopted and who his biological parents were, or if his adopted parents are abusive or neglectful. Parents, I find, can really be a major catalyst to flaws in young characters.
     
  15. Ashrynn
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    Ashrynn Active Member

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    If you can take it from your own experiences.

    Someone in my book is going to utterly crush my main character, this someone is a person who is by all means a good person and I'm going to do my best to make her likeable.

    However, she's two-faced. Despite her love and affection for the main character she's unable to be honest with herself.

    I must admit that it's a twisted pleasure when I read of betrayal. I'll drop my hints and such, but anytime someones friend or love betrays them in a book you grow to hate said person and feel for the one they've hurt as if they were real.

    This stems from the pain that I caused someone and that reality of the hurt I caused and the pain I've felt for it allows me to see from the PoV of the other character more and more making her flaws so much more real.
     
  16. Gothic Vampire Queen
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    Gothic Vampire Queen Member

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    Damn, SerenaYasha beat me to the punch! lol

    I was going to say that your character can maybe act like everything is fine and dandy when he's around other people. But when he's alone, everything comes up. And I'm talking in terms of emotions, if not tears.
     
  17. Rustgold
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    Rustgold New Member

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    I'd give him a temper that he needs to control.
     

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