1. CGB
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    CGB Active Member

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    Orphan character flaws/strengths

    Discussion in 'Character Development' started by CGB, Jul 3, 2016.

    I have a female character whose parents died when she was less than 1 year old. She grew up in an orphange for girls in a large city, in a very poor neighborhood. (The genre here is science fiction, btw, so the place she grows up is actually a human city of a rather populous planet without any social services other than what is provided by a religious group that runs the orphanage).

    She is also a "half" member of a racial minority group that is generally treated poorly across the human galaxy. This also plays into problems she runs into (exclusion, suspicious, marginalization, etc.)

    The obvious flaws I've come up with which seem rather cliche stem from the faulty belief that she doesn't deserve to be loved, as even her own parents "abandoned" her. This is reinforced by a steady-stream of racism that she experiences growing up.

    Basically my question is, what other major flaws or strengths do you think might logically develop from this background?

    The plot essentially involves her being a highly successful lawyer and financially supporting the orphanage she grew up in, but is visited on her 30th birthday and learns that she is actually an heiress to the most wealthy corporatocracy in the known universe. She leaves the planets of her birth, and trouble ensues when she meets her actual family, basically a bunch of insanely spoiled and entitled brats, and her integration into the family business.
     
  2. Spencer1990
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    Spencer1990 Contributing Member

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    A bad temper could be a flaw of hers. Growing up in a hostile environment can teach a person to lack the ability to hold their anger at bay.

    Jumping to conclusions about people.
    Self-sabotage.
    Paranoia.
    Trust issues.
    Clingyness for people who do treat her well.

    Strengths:
    Strong willed.
    Independent.
    Free thinker.
    Good sense of character in other people.
    Trust issues could be a strength as well if it serves her properly.
    Personal grit.

    That's off the top of my head. I'm sure someone else will come through and give a really poignant answer that blows mine out of the water, haha.
     
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  3. Brindy
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    Brindy Contributing Member Supporter

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    She may not form close bonds as doesn't want to experience the feeling of abandonment again, so keeping an emotional distance may be a self-protective quality.
     
  4. ChickenFreak
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    ChickenFreak Contributing Member Contributor

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    I'm not comfortable calling these "flaws" and "strengths." It feels like a game. Why can't they just be personality traits?
     
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  5. BayView
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    BayView Contributing Member Contributor

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    I think this approach could lead to a more nuanced understanding of the character... I think most "flaws" and "strengths" are inter-related and situational, after all.

    Like, if the character has learned to not trust others and not rely on anyone but herself, that can express itself in a positive way as independence and street-smarts, in a negative way as paranoia and an inability to form emotional attachments. In some contexts, like, say, someone trying to take advantage of her, it would be a positive, but the exact same traits in, say, a romantic relationship with an honest and loving partner, could be a weakness.
     
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  6. ChickenFreak
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    ChickenFreak Contributing Member Contributor

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    Yep yep. In fact, I'd say that quite frequently (certainly not always, but frequently) a "flaw" is a characteristic that came into existence because at some point in the person's past, that behavior/characteristic was a strength that helped them deal with a problematic situation.

    (I may just be rephrasing exactly what you meant, @BayView. I have a bad habit of doing that. :))
     
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  7. BayView
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    BayView Contributing Member Contributor

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    No, not necessarily a bad habit, just a habit! It could be good in some situations, bad in others...;)
     
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