Describe a flawed character you might use in a story. How did they become so flawed? What part will they play in the story and what will happen to them?
All of my characters are flawed. A perfect character would be boring. There would be no character growth, they’d be two dimensional, and the story would have nowhere to go. Flawed characters give us something to sink our writer teeth into. While I do have a new story in the works, I’m not quite ready to share those characters. They’re still being fleshed out. Instead, I’ll discuss a few characters of my previous works, and, then, perhaps, I’ll make one up just for fun.
As I reflect on my characters, I realize I number of them are flawed as a result of either their upbringing or some event from their childhood. For instance, Eleanor in The Whispering House has always felt different, as if she never fit in anywhere, not even in her own family. Her parents were loving, if strict. In the midst of dealing with the grief of losing her mother, some repressed childhood memories surface that throw gasoline on the flames of her grief and anger. These memories completely change the story of her life. They also explain a lot about her relationships with her mother’s side of the family and why she’s always felt “different.” The revelation becomes a pivot point in her character growth that ultimately leads to healing.
Xuě, the main character from Snow Spirits, is a shapeshifter in created a lab, treated like/viewed as an animal, and adopted out to her parents at five. The village she lives in for the next 15 years is full of fearful, narrow minded people who shun her, except her parents. She struggles to accept who she is, what she is, and has never known a true friend until she’s forced to flee the village. She must overcome this feeling of inferiority and self-loathing and find the courage to push past all of that to accept that she has value.
Susan in Last Chance, a contemporary romance not yet released, is the product of narcissistic parents. Her father is a philanderer; her mother is manipulative and controlling. It’s only after Susan escapes the relationship with her ex that she realizes that she’s followed somewhat in her mother’s footsteps. (Her ex cheated on her.) Like Xuě, she has to learn to value herself enough to set and keep boundaries and, then, learn to listen to the inner voice and trust herself.
Asta, from the novella Asta and the She Wolves, had a great family and childhood. She’s damaged from her fiancé cheating on her. It set her into a tailspin. This was her childhood sweetheart, the man she thought she was going to marry. It takes her a bit to see it as the blessing it is. She has to work through that betrayal before she can move on with her life.
There are a myriad circumstances that can create damaged characters. Really, it’s just life. Very few people escape unscathed. The loss of a sibling could push them to a nihilistic lifestyle, a car accident could inspire them to live their life to the fullest or become embittered by the injuries incurred, bullying in school could result in a distrust of people in general, parents who went through a nasty divorce could make them gun shy for any type of serious relationship and lonely, maybe everything comes easily for them, so easy that life is not challenging enough, they get in with the wrong crowd, a near miss where the character nearly dies, so they avoid any type of risk to be safe, or they are such a perfectionist they’ve never reached their true potential and how that shaped their life and views. The options are limitless because, well, there are so many possibilities.
While I haven’t created a new character for this blog, I’ve offered numerous scenarios of what caused the character to be damaged and their reaction as a result. Depending on the story would depend on that character’s part. They could be the protagonist or the antagonist. Obviously, I have no answers. LOL I’m just asking, “What if?” and running with it. That’s kind of what authors do, though. LOL
I’m curious to see what these other authors have to say. I have a feeling it will be much more edifying than my post here.
Marci, your characters sound a lot like my clients! That’s reality mimicking fiction, right?
Maybe some of them are. LOL
Your comments about characters and relating to life are so true. It’s why readers love fiction. Enjoyed your post and learning about your interesting characters.
Yes, I believe that’s true, too. We can relate to these characters, but are also glad that, at least during certain portions of the story, we aren’t them. LOL
Flawed characters are heroes and heroines we can all relate to in one way or another. Even if our lives didn’t have the same chaotic or unpleasant back stories, we still quickly come to care for the hero or heroine who is doing their best to overcome. And caring is what it’s all about when you want the reader to come back for more. Nice post.
Thank you. I agree, although I think there is such a thing as too flawed of a character, but some flaws make them human. Thanks for stopping by. 🙂
AS you say, flawed characters are more interesting and easier to relate to. And their redemption is so satisfying to read! Especially when they finally get a HEA. Good stuff.
Great post, Marci. I do support your comment, abvoe, that we’re glad we’re not the character at some point in the story. Being a writer of fiction is all about taking the normal and making it ‘more than’. Anne
Well, the world is a pretty crazy place right now, but it’s not quite as crazy as some of my stories . . . Yet. Some days, it does seem close.