1. Nobody Important
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    Nobody Important Member

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    Help! My main character doesn't have any flaws!

    Discussion in 'Character Development' started by Nobody Important, Apr 4, 2009.

    Is it okay for the main character to be a real goody-goody? I like him a lot how he is but I noticed he's not near as deep as a lot of my other characters. Is this okay or do I need to add some flaws to him?

    The only flaws I can think of at the moment is one time he kills (basically murders) a ton of soldiers who are attempting to execute another character and kills them all even when he could let them live. But that wasn't totally his fault however (I'll tell you the reason later).
     
  2. Rei
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    Rei Contributing Member Contributor

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    Just relax. SOunds like you have a start. You can figure it out as you go. I think we worry too much about consciously making them "flawed." Just make him real.
     
  3. davogler
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    davogler New Member

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    I couldn't agree more Rei...just let the character come to life while writing, you will find that most of the time your characters will take on a life of thier own and all characteristics will shine through; flaws, strengths, and all other unique qualities that specifically define him/her/it...all you have to do, dear writer, is be the outlet. Enjoy!
     
  4. vanhunks
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    vanhunks Member

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    Perhaps that one "flaw" that you speak of could haunt him and cause him to act out of character? That way your main character can develop into a well roundedness. I'm sure we should all like him!

    vanhunks
     
  5. Castlesofsand
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    Castlesofsand Banned

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    you have to look at it this way sometimes, Vanhunks

    the other characters probably considered his/her goodiness a flaw. Why rough him up when the conflict between them and the other characters is enough

    good luck on your writing
     
  6. ElephantObsessor
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    ElephantObsessor New Member

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    You've got a start, so just relax. You could make him SEEM perfect, but he's actually secretly flawed. I think that would be cool!
     
  7. Cogito
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    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    I don't usually think in terms of flaws. I prefer to think in terms of priorities, and how the character will react in a particular situation. The characters define themselveves that way. The trouble with consciously creating flaws is that you end up summarising broad aspects of a character in a few words, and expecting those to define reactions to a wide range of situations. In reality, people are not that consistent. They are most interesting when they surprise you.
     
  8. B-Gas
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    B-Gas Contributing Member

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    Sit the character down and give them an interview. Write it up. Ask questions they don't want to answer. Keep asking until they do. Note down every response. You'll find flaws pretty quickly.

    If that doesn't work, try recasting positives as negatives. In Warhammer 40,000, there's a vile, evil overgod who has been controlling everything from day one, spinning the universe chaotically around his fingers to work his evil ends.

    He's the god of hope.

    It gets really easy, after seeing that, to start seeing every positive in a negative light. Courage is just brashness, pride, greed and stupidity. Love? It's lust, with added pride and fantasising. Honesty? Honesty is just stupid idealism that has no place anymore.

    If that doesn't work, have the villains use their positive traits against them. Are they honest? Brave? Protective? Unwilling to shake their idealistic notions? In the hands of a skilled opponent, those are all powerful weapons.
     
  9. x_raichelle_x
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    x_raichelle_x Contributing Member

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    Make it real. I can think of a few people I know of who aren't just lovely people on the outside, their actual thoughts and reactions are genuinely nice. This doesn't make them any less of an interesting person, it actually highlights the extremely few flaws they have. My mam for example, is an unbelievably kind & thoughtful person, and its hard to pick any kind of fault with her character. However, she tries so hard to be nice and understanding all of the time, this takes its toll on her & wears her out emotionally, because shes so scared of hurting other peoples feelings. Maybe your characters niceness can be his flaw, it holds him back from being able to express his darker feelings because he doesnt feel comfortable having any kind of negative impact.
    If any of that makes sense lol, have a feeling it doesnt. Apologies if its came out as a load of nonsense. :) x
     
  10. Nobody Important
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    Nobody Important Member

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    Yay! I'm not the only one who does that! I thought I was weird or something. ;)

    Don't worry. It actually made perfect sense.
     
  11. Chaoslogic
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    Chaoslogic Member

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    A goody-goody that murders people. That's pretty funny, actually. You know, there's a character just like this in the manga Claymore. Her name is Ophelia and her depiction is so creepy it scares me whenever she makes an appearence.
     
  12. lordofhats
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    lordofhats Contributing Member

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    There is no need in most writing for a defined character flaw in characters. The goal shouldn't be too make them flawed, just realistic. Don't make the character perfect. Give them a personality and let it rip. Like any real human being, they will approach their problems as their personality and experiences dictate them, and naturally they'll make their own fumbles. Defining a character based on their flaws is something I think should be left to very specific kinds of writing (Character pieces mostly, like the Picture of Dorian Gray, where the character's flaws are the story), and for anything else isn't really necessary.
     
  13. lynneandlynn
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    lynneandlynn Contributing Member

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    Most of the time you have to completely finish writing a piece before you really understand what flaws your characters have. And right now you might see him as flawless whereas a reader might pick it up and instantly understand the flaws he has. We oftentimes miss a lot about our own characters because we can only think the way *we* think. That's what makes having readers such a valuable asset for a writer.

    ~Lynn
     
  14. Mat Growcott
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    Mat Growcott Member

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    This isn't really a 'get out of jail free' card for writers, but more just a 'let's put it in context' post.

    The main character in anything, or the character portrayed to be the main, is very often not as deep as the supporting characters. They travel through the story interacting with other people, allowing other people to grow and transform whilst only often having very shallow flaws themselves.

    The perfect example: Alice, from the stories by Lewis Carroll. While she has some minor flaws, she's stubborn and quite naive, she is merely the boat on which we discover the Queen of Hearts, the Mad Hatter and Co, Tweedle Dum and Tweedle Dee. When compared to the other characters and even the setting, Wonderland itself, Alice is nothing more than a slightly annoying middle-class girl with a wild imagination.

    A more contemporary reference. Jack from Lost. While more interesting characters, like Locke, are doing extraordinary things on the island, he is usually whining about something or other. Or arguing with someone. Or 'being boss'. Occasionally he'll move slightly, but generally he just watches events and lusts after Kate.

    My secret Lost obsession aside, the point is that the main character is rarely ever the most interesting of the group. That isn't to say you shouldn't try to develop him or her as much as any other character, and it's certainly not saying that the Main character is unable to be as fully 3-dimensional as the supporting cast. But just to let the story take it's course and see if everything fits afterwards.
     
  15. architectus
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    architectus Banned

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    The most important thing is that MCs need to change. They can change for the good or for the bad, but they should change. Static MCs aren't as interesting, but they can work.

    He can develop a flaw. Typically the more a character wants something the more immoral actions he is willing to take. Those actions will reveal his flaw(s).
     
  16. Nobody Important
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    Nobody Important Member

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    I actually feal bad for my character now that I made him out to be a murder. (I guess it's good that I can feal bad for a made up character of mine. I hope I don't get too atached to my characters though).

    Most of the time he goes out of his way to spare peoples lives. There are just certain things that the bad guys do that can really tick him off.
     
  17. Mercutio
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    Mercutio New Member

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    Being perfect is a flaw... isn't it?
    I mean, if you are perfect, you will inspire the envy of the gods, would you not?

    I jest, but not just to jest, but to make a point.
     
  18. Castlesofsand
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    Castlesofsand Banned

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    marry him off, his wife will find plenty i'm sure :)
     
  19. g1ng3rsnap9ed
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    g1ng3rsnap9ed Contributing Member

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    Just have the flaws come in as they come is what I do. No purpose in forcing imperfections just as there is none in ironing out all the flaws. Some traits are not apparent at first-glance, maybe you/the audience just needs to get to know the protagonist a little better before he feels comfortable in revealing his flaws...sort of like certain shy people in real-life.
     
  20. Atari
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    Atari Active Member

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    What's the point of flaws?

    The 'deepness' of your character could come from more subtle areas. Everyone's flaws are not immediately evident, and his 'flaws' may be on a different level than some people's.

    Also, the whole, 'your character has to have flaws' deal is really a crock. Generally, when a character makes a mistake, it's because the author wants the story to go a certain direction, rather than because the character would make such a mistake. (In my experience, anyway)
    Really, what's wrong with being a goody goody? He could be generous and kind 'to a fault,' if you want.
     
  21. Nobody Important
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    Nobody Important Member

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    Okay. I feal better now about him not having any flaws at the moment.
     
  22. Atari
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    Atari Active Member

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    Also, it's a bit presumptuous for you to say that your character has 'no flaws'. (Though you do redeem the statement with 'at the moment,' though I doubt it was a meticulously chosen phrase)

    What I mean is that people are complex creatures. You may have a friend who seems perfect, all the time, as if he has never done anything wrong. Ever.

    This friend might secretly hate himself for not doing more. Or maybe he has not empathy, or sympathy for other people. Maybe he's stingy or shrewdly ingenuous.

    Although he is YOUR character, it is, as I said, presumptuous to think that you know everything about him, yes?
    ;)
     
  23. Nobody Important
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    Nobody Important Member

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    That is true. I'll interview him in my head tonight and see if I can learn more about him (No, this isn't sarcastic).

    But I doubt anyone knows everything about their characters. Sometimes their actions may still be a mystery.
     
  24. Tall and Weird
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    Tall and Weird New Member

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    Your character kills a bunch of people that were about to execute someone? It could mean that he has problems with managing his anger, with making decisions at crisis points, or even offering any form of forgiveness to those that threaten his friends.

    He may know of these failings and have cultivated his goody goody persona in an attempt to remove himself from the things he's done in the past.

    He may not have known about these failings and be shocked by the way it made him feel or he may have secretly enjoyed the simple act of unrestrained violence. Either way he will act differently after that pivotal of of his personal history.

    I think that any extreme can be a flaw. Keep writing!
     

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