1. JosephMarch
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    JosephMarch Active Member

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    Some thoughts on character flaws

    Discussion in 'Character Development' started by JosephMarch, Apr 11, 2014.

    I haven't purposely given any, but now I am thinking about what the characters already have that might be flaws.

    Can 'Mary Sue' in and of itself be a flaw? That she is such a rule - follower but based on her own sense of right and wrong...she sees everything in absolutes.

    Also, can race be a character 'flaw'? If the story involves racial relations in the 1970s, and the character is a minority, is that a flaw? If the purpose of flaw is supposed to provide challenges to the character, I guess it would be? I hope that question isn't offensive. I am hopelessly new to this whole thing.
     
  2. Simpson17866
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    Simpson17866 Contributing Member Contributor

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    I think that sounds like a very good flaw that keeps the character from being a Mary Sue in the first place.

    NO. Character flaws are things about themselves that cause problems for the people they care about, not problems that come from other people.
     
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  3. Renee J
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    Renee J Contributing Member

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    To me, flaws are human reactions to situations. Your Mary Sue perfectionism, to me, is a flaw. She feels the need to be perfect. Some people in real life won't allow themselves to make a mistake. (At least, they think they never make mistakes - others may disagree.) Race in itself is not a flaw. But, how the character reacts to racism might be.
     
  4. Smoke Z
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    Smoke Z Active Member

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    Mary Sue is different than a "little Miss Perfect" type character. Being afraid of breaking the rules could be a crippling phobia. It certainly would get in the way with social things. Some of her friends might even shun her because she tattled.

    Think Brainy from the Smurfs. He gets on everybody's nerves with his constant lawfulness. He's considered a brown-noser.

    The race thing is more of a complication.

    I think flaws are things where eventually a character could overcome them with enough work. Like being afraid of heights or too weak to lift something.

    Mary Sues often break the rules when it suits them, and often gets punished too much or not enough. Mary Sues often have cool-sounding flaws that conveniently disappear just at the moment where it could introduce an interesting complication.
     
  5. Robert_S
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    Robert_S Contributing Member

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    Truby likes to break it down into two groups: Psychological weakness and moral weakness. The former causes problems for the character while the latter causes problems for others. A fear of heights would be a character weakness, but a belittling arrogance would be a moral weakness.
     
  6. Cogito
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    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    Don't focus too much on flaws. A flaw in itself is a judgment of value. In terms of characters, what you really want are distinctive characteristics. For example, an interest in numerology is considered quirky by many, but it need not be a flaw. It could make someone notice and remember the number plate of a vehicle leaving the scene of a crime.

    Attributing flaws to characters can become somewhat of an obsession. I consider that flawed thinking.
     
  7. jannert
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    jannert Contributing Member Supporter Contributor

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    I agree. One person's flaw is another person's asset. It's what you do with them, as a writer, that makes a character come alive.
     
  8. DeathandGrim
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    DeathandGrim Contributing Member

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    Remember, don't purposely create flaws for the sake of having em. Do it because it fits the character.
     
  9. TheDapperJack
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    TheDapperJack Member

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    An obsessive dedication to a code of conduct is most definately a character flaw, a pretty old one too. Probably one of the best examples of this is Inspector Javert from Le Miserables. His ultimate downfall is his inability to accept any morals than his own, and it kills him in the end (spoilers I guess?) Anyway, in many role-play circles, this is known as the "Lawful Stupid" Alignment.

    As for the race thing, yeah sorry, no. Just...no.
     
  10. DeathandGrim
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    DeathandGrim Contributing Member

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    I can't see race being a flaw either unless plot was involved or its an entirely different creature
     
  11. Robert_S
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    Robert_S Contributing Member

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    Race wouldn't be a flaw, but how one views his or her self with regard to race can be a flaw.
     
  12. TheDapperJack
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    TheDapperJack Member

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    This is a fair point. If the character, say resented their own race and by extension themselves, because of how they are treated by society, that could work as a character flaw. Simply being a race is not a flaw though, and counting it as one could be seen as a weensy bit racist.
     
  13. Robert_S
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    Robert_S Contributing Member

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    And then there could be those that don't know where they fit in because of a mixed heritage. Not angry or resentful (but perhaps at times), just lost.
     
  14. TheDapperJack
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    TheDapperJack Member

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    Hmm, an interesting thought. I would have classified that as more of an inner longing, and something that has happened to you, not necessarily something that's wrong with you. Maybe if your attitude on the situation was what lead you to be a social outcast, like say they were insecure about their own heritage and lashed out at people as a result, I would count that as a flaw. But having an inner longing to belong is something that is basic to human nature.
     
  15. Robert_S
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    Robert_S Contributing Member

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    In Truby's story ideology, that would be a psychological weakness leading to a moral weakness. A solid character flaw.
     
  16. Atari
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    Atari Active Member

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    A racial minority can be an excellent characteristic OF a Mary Sue.
    "Oh, I'm oppressed, but it's not because of anything I've done: Others are just wrong."

    A Mary-Sue really isn't a perfect character of herself, she is a Mary Sue because of how others treat her, which is usually with undue respect, unmerited love and admiration.
    Her physical deformations make her more physically attractive. She always says the right thing and, more importantly, people always listen to her. She's able to change people's opinion using sheer rhetoric and good will.
    Hearts melt. Minds are changed.
    A Mary-Sue is not a single character, it is an entire universe that obviously revolves around her, in one way or another.
     
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  17. JosephMarch
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    JosephMarch Active Member

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    I realize now how offensive my 'is race a flaw' question might seem. In the context of my story, it is the driving theme that provides most of the actions of the main characters. My two main characters, who are different races, have both come to view their own race with disdain, for different reasons. That was what I meant.
     
  18. Robert_S
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    Robert_S Contributing Member

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    That's a personal view of race. In this case, self-loathing of their race, but race in and of itself is not the flaw. The flaw is perception.
     
  19. MLM
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    MLM Banned for trolling

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    I disapprove of character flaws and strive to write characters who have none. Unfortunately this has caused a large autobiographical streak in my work.
     
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  20. Lewdog
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    Lewdog Come ova here and give me kisses! Supporter Contributor

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    Race would be a barrier or a conflict for the character not a flaw. Now for Mary Sue the idea of absolutes and not being able to see a grey area is certainly a character flaw and sounds almost like Asperger's Syndrome. Maybe give her some kind of social disease that makes her the way she is. Now that takes away the flaw in a way because it then becomes a conflict of her against herself, but it still provides you with more character depth.
     
  21. Deterell
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    Deterell New Member

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    Flaws aren't a bad thing (well, in terms of a story at least), trying to make a character interesting by adding things that seem like flaws is. If a character follows their own moral rules strictly, but their attitude causes them to lose out on a potential job or causes strain on their relationships in a way that affects the story, it's a flaw (an interesting example of this is Sheldon Cooper, now that I think about it). However, if it's just there to attempt to characterize them and doesn't have any significant impact on the story, it is not a flaw, it's window dressing and shouldn't be there.
     

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