How to Write Flawed Characters: Really Useful Links by Lucy O’Callaghan

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Lucy O'Callaghan

Lucy O’Callaghan

No one is perfect, and readers don’t want or expect your characters to be either; they want them to be real with all the imperfections and failures people experience in real life. Even the heroes of a story have flaws and they need them for your readers to be able to relate to them. Readers can forgive your character’s flaws if they can understand them. Characters have to grow and overcome obstacles; they must be so real that they come to life on the page.

Liev Schreiber says ‘Flaws reveal a lot about a character and who people are. The flawed elements of a character are where I find their humanity.’

I have put together some articles and podcasts about writing flawed characters.

  1. 10 Flawed Character Writing Tips to Make Your Story More Engaging | StoryFlint

Creating flawed characters is one of the best ways to make your novel more engaging and realistic. This article from story Flint says 10 tips for doing just that. These include making sure your character flaws are relatable, ensuring that their floors are depth to their personality, creating a balance between positive and negative qualities, using their flaws to showcase their strength of character, allowing your characters room to grow and change, and being consistent with their flaws.

  1. How to Write Character Flaws: The Importance of Imperfect Characters – TCK Publishing

Character flaws are undesirable qualities that allow characters an opportunity to grow, acting as friction that challenges their advancement. This article discusses the three types of character flaws minor, major, and fatal. It goes on to discuss how character flaws act as fuel to conflict both external and internal. He shares a character flaw list to help jumpstart your character building.

  1. How to Write Flawed Characters & Antiheroes That Provoke Empathy – Writer’s Digest (writersdigest.com)

Flawed characters and antiheroes can make fascinating protagonists but it’s important that these characters still provoke empathy. We can accept a great deal of unpleasantness in a character as long as we see it balanced against something that inspires empathy or intrigues us. To create compelling contradictions, this article asks us to explore the following contradictions based on contrasting influences, based on competing morals or goals, or that results from a secret or deceit.

  1. How to Write Realistically Flawed Characters – Almost An Author

Developing characters that are relatable and flawed but well-meaning is important to the crux of every good story. Readers can identify themselves in certain aspects of the character’s personalities or the struggles they’re going through and form an attachment. This article discusses the importance of flawed characters and how to paint a portrait of your character’s history and establish quirks and tics.

  1. How to Use Character Flaws to Enrich Your Writing – 2023 – MasterClass

When a writer crafts believable flaws, they open the door to interesting conflict, engaging personalities, and ample character development. Masterclass discusses why to give your character flaws, shares examples of character flaws, and also shares 12 character flaws to use in your writing.

  1. 70 Interesting Character Flaws to Use In Your Story (reedsy.com)

Reedsy tells us that if you want your fictional characters to be as well-rounded and relatable as actual people, you’ll need to give them a few character flaws. Reedsy shares 70 fascinating character flaws to use in your story, with examples from literature to demonstrate each one.

PODCASTS
  1. Writing Tips: How Character Flaws Shape Story With Will Storr | The Creative Penn

How can you create characters with unique and interesting flaws that lead to plots that will enliven your stories? In this podcast, Will Storr talks about using cause and effect in storytelling, and how to give characters depth and flaws without being cliched.

  1. Episode 158: Loving Flawed Characters | Story Makers Show

This conversation grapples with creating flawed characters that readers want to invest in. Creating sympathy, building empathy, and relatable human desires are discussed.

  1. Podcast for Writers – Writing Smarter

Episode 5 of this podcast talks about diving deeper into character flaws. Having flawed characters makes them original and relatable. How your character reacts, lives, and believes is based on their flaws and that is what makes your story different from someone else’s.

Flaws are important in fiction. They help the reader to connect with your characters and in this way, the reader becomes invested in the story. Always keep in mind that characters can’t have flaws for the sake of having them; there must be a reason, a backstory to their flaws. A flaw can help your character grow and change which is important when considering their character arcs. I hope that this week’s column has been helpful. Please get in touch if there are any topics you would like me to cover.

(c) Lucy O’Callaghan

Instagram: lucy.ocallaghan.31.

Facebook: @LucyCOCallaghan

Twitter: @LucyCOCallaghan

About the author

Writing since she was a child, Lucy penned her first story with her father called Arthur’s Arm, at the ripe old age of eight. She has been writing ever since. Inspired by her father’s love of the written word and her mother’s encouragement through a constant supply of wonderful stationary, she wrote short stories for her young children, which they subsequently illustrated.
A self-confessed people watcher, stories that happen to real people have always fascinated her and this motivated her move to writing contemporary women’s fiction. Her writing has been described as pacy, human, moving and very real.
Lucy has been part of a local writing group for over ten years and has taken creative writing classes with Paul McVeigh, Jamie O’Connell and Curtis Brown Creative. She truly found her tribe when she joined Writer’s Ink in May 2020. Experienced in beta reading and critiquing, she is currently editing and polishing her debut novel.
Follow her on Instagram: lucy.ocallaghan.31. Facebook and Twitter: @LucyCOCallaghan

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