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  1. Smoke
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    Smoke Contributing Member

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    Weakness is strength.

    Discussion in 'General Writing' started by Smoke, May 2, 2011.

    What are some examples of playing with a trait that make weakness into strength and vice-versa?

    My own example is non-fictional, but I'm sure it's strange enough to be fiction.

    I've got the trait of stubbornness. To quote Dragonheart: Dreams die hard and you hold them in your hands long after they've turned to dust.

    I clung to my dreams long after the point where I should have changed my aspirations to becoming head manager of a fast-food restaurant. My stubbornness led me to a path of destruction.

    Now my stubborness is the only way I can even buy food before starving. I have panic attacks, but being stubborn drives me to push through the attack, keeps me from leaving the store without paying for what's in my cart, or at least looking for what I needed to buy. It's an older force that keeps me on the road when my mind wanders during driving; it has just adapted to the type of wandering, though the conscious mind still has to keep the panic state from changing the foot angle on the accelerator.
     
  2. Killer300
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    Killer300 Active Member

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    Okay, I can think of numerous traits that meet this, both fictional and non-fictional.
    For example with the first one, there is a comic with a character that is totally off the wall insane. This is normally deterimental for him, BUT, later on when he is alone for awhile, he is in a situation where most men would become suicidal, but he's just fine because of his weird mental wiring.
    Another example is with Lisbeth Salander. She probably has autism, and throughout the books we see how this causes her issues, along with plenty of people who would get issues from this in real life. But, when she was younger, for awhile she was kept in solitary confiment. Most people would lose all hope from such an experience, but she powered through it because she didn't social contact as much.
    Finally, well here's one from real life. A guy I read about got most of his body so severely charred that he had to wear a special suit constantly. His condition prevented him from partying and other stuff. So, and also to prevent people thinking he had brain damage, he started to study a ton. This resulted in him becoming an impressive intellectual to say the least.
     
  3. Mallory
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    Mallory Mallegory. Contributor

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    Someone who is extremely indecisive and timid hesitates before going all out on something, so is delayed, but it turns out this was best (example: some people all go charging off after an enemy, your MC lags behind, but your MC gets the advantage because the enemy is expecting the charging horde but not your MC popping up later).

    Someone with an inhibiting temper problem gets the steam to do something necessary that no one else has the courage or motivation to do.

    An injured person was excluded from an activity that upsets him, but later turns out to be a blessing in disguise because he'd have gotten killed if he'd have gone.

    The person who's shy and quiet all the time can get the info because he has better listening abilities than the more outgoing people, or because people don't notice his presence so talk freely in front of him.
     
  4. Show
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    Show Contributing Member Contributor

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    Somebody who is paranoid can often become hindered by it but that paranoia can also save them from being scammed/hurt in certain situations.
     
  5. Porcupine
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    Porcupine Contributing Member

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    There is a wide range of traits that are frequently called weaknesses but are actually strengths, depending on the situation. These include impatience, brutal honesty, willingness to take risks, and being demanding. Stubbornness goes along with these as well, if you call it perseverence in the face of adversity when it's good ;) .

    Then there are weaknesses that can never be strengths. Unpunctuality is one of them, for example. It might save you from a nasty accident by sheer luck, but calling it a strength because of that would be a considerable stretch.

    There are also perceived strengths that can actually be horrible weaknesses, like perfectionism. In its worst state, perfectionism can be so paralyzing that the person affected by it won't start anything because he feels he won't be able to perform to his own astronomical standards, and is deeply upset when he does finish something.

    Hope this helps a little.
     
  6. digitig
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    digitig Contributing Member Contributor

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    But you have to know the reason for their unpunctuality. If they're always late for things because they keep stopping to help people in need then it's simply a matter of different priorities, which might be a strength.
     
  7. psychotick
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    psychotick Contributing Member Contributor

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    Hmm,

    Not sure if this counts but my uber bad wizard was almost powerless. No magic of his own, but he could steal the souls and magic of other wizards, which made him the most powerful wizard of all.

    Cheers.
     
  8. Porcupine
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    Porcupine Contributing Member

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    Well, obviously. I meant unpunctuality in the sense that they just don't care when they show up, without any additional external conditions.
     
  9. TheSpiderJoe
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    TheSpiderJoe Senior Member

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    I'm a big fan of "blind optimism/dumb luck". Definitely more so than "trait" weakness = strength because those are much easier to write.

    Like the protagonist does something that seems horrible at first but in the long run was actually necessary that it occurred. For example, let's say the characters are in the military and they drove their convoy in the wrong direction which would mean supplies would arrive late. However, when they arrive to said base, they realize it has been annihilated by enemy fire and their presence would have only added to the body count.
     
  10. psychotick
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    psychotick Contributing Member Contributor

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    Hi,

    Just remembered Piers Anthony's Xanth. The MC in A Spell For Chameleon has no magical ability of his own in a land where everyone else has a magical talent. Thus he is the weakest of the weak, and is actually expelled for his failings. In reality he has an uber magic, he cannot be harmed by magic, in fact every time someone tries to harm him with magic, bizarre coincidences interfere. So because of his perceived weakness / talentlessness he has had to become a capable swordsman etc - his weakness making him strong. But also when he discovers his talent to make it as effective as possible he has to hide it, after all if everyone knew he couldn't be harmed by magic they'd just hit him over the head with a club, so his strength has to appear as a weakness.

    Cheers.
     

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