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Post Reply Character Weakness!
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Posted 3/5/14
I like to juxtapose things. Usually their weakness in my works is really impacting to the character, rather than the reader.
Like here are a few

the pacifistic warrior who loves the sanctity of life more than anything and has a hatred/fear of battle , yet wins every time and kills everything in his path.
a sinner who desires only death, yet cannot manage to die
an ambitious coward, who is braver than most <------- (self confidence issues, the character isnt a wimp, he just thinks hes a wimp, kinda like young Simon the Digger)
The doctor who has such a strong desire to save people that she is willing to save the man that she knows will kill her
The fat man warrior
etc.

Then I usually combine this with the normal minor things, like backstory, minor character flaws, character details...

And then I come up with a character. :)
The more flawed the more believable.
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35 / Va.
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Posted 4/2/14
When I create a main character I always think how can I make them feel more human, more like the darker side of me. Often I channel my rage, self-hatred, depression, and moral ambiguities into the main characters, and the characters of my story. Like is it wrong to marry a child if the fate of the world was in the balance? Or let's say that you were to gain absolute knowledge at the price of your individuality. Would you give it up to save your last bit of humanity?
I think of things like this as the beginning phase of how to develop their flaws, and what sort of personality to give them. Then the next phase I begin to flesh out what sort of character they are. Like if the person haves a nearly invincible body I want to make their view on themselves as a very weak hearted character that is full with self destructive traits not even worthy of being loved, or alive.
Finally I begin to write out the story in my head often talking out loud the characters dialogues to myself. As I progress onwards I then think of what sort of flaws I have, or humanity as a whole might possess then I give that weaknesses to my characters as dictated.
To sum it up I want my characters to have an internal battle with themselves. the more they struggle, the more human they feel the more I can relate to them and hopefully the readers.
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23 / M / New Hampshire......
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Posted 4/13/14
I am pretty sure that character flaws can easily be something that is determined based on the kind of story you're writing. If you're making the character first then really anything would probably do. I would also base it on whether or not you want your character to be able to over come the flaw(s) throughout the course of the story. You also might come up with more minor flaws, while you write and introduce new characters. I personally think that the protagonist will evolve and change along with the story to create a really solid character.
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29 / M / Wisconsin
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Posted 4/15/14
The flaw has to match the character and the situations you put them. For instance post traumatic stress is good for characters that have been through intense scenarios. However, if you are trying to create a professional soldier, hit man, smuggler, etc. it doesn't make sense that they would be able to stick with that life and survive if their flaw is going to significantly hinder them. Think of the type of mentality a character would need to be able to life his/her life and choose a flaw or issue that makes sense.

Also I would say that the character flaw does not always have to be completely overcome. I know the usual progression goes inner struggle+external struggle, initial setbacks, soul searching and/or training, resolution of inner struggle which then allows the character to resolve the external struggle. But I think that as long as there is progress made along the way it is okay if your character is still flawed at the end of the story. Sometimes it is even more satisfying that way.
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Posted 4/25/14

sesshomaru85 wrote:

The flaw has to match the character and the situations you put them. For instance post traumatic stress is good for characters that have been through intense scenarios. However, if you are trying to create a professional soldier, hit man, smuggler, etc. it doesn't make sense that they would be able to stick with that life and survive if their flaw is going to significantly hinder them. Think of the type of mentality a character would need to be able to life his/her life and choose a flaw or issue that makes sense.

Also I would say that the character flaw does not always have to be completely overcome. I know the usual progression goes inner struggle+external struggle, initial setbacks, soul searching and/or training, resolution of inner struggle which then allows the character to resolve the external struggle. But I think that as long as there is progress made along the way it is okay if your character is still flawed at the end of the story. Sometimes it is even more satisfying that way.


This. This is like my guide line for creating characters and giving them their weakness. Always find a match. Would you see that popular girl in school afraid of large crowds? No you'd see that as something the anti-social people have a problem with.
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19 / M / Tiphares
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Posted 4/26/14

MonkeysxMoo35 wrote:


sesshomaru85 wrote:

The flaw has to match the character and the situations you put them. For instance post traumatic stress is good for characters that have been through intense scenarios. However, if you are trying to create a professional soldier, hit man, smuggler, etc. it doesn't make sense that they would be able to stick with that life and survive if their flaw is going to significantly hinder them. Think of the type of mentality a character would need to be able to life his/her life and choose a flaw or issue that makes sense.

Also I would say that the character flaw does not always have to be completely overcome. I know the usual progression goes inner struggle+external struggle, initial setbacks, soul searching and/or training, resolution of inner struggle which then allows the character to resolve the external struggle. But I think that as long as there is progress made along the way it is okay if your character is still flawed at the end of the story. Sometimes it is even more satisfying that way.


This. This is like my guide line for creating characters and giving them their weakness. Always find a match. Would you see that popular girl in school afraid of large crowds? No you'd see that as something the anti-social people have a problem with.


It doesn't always to have match, sometimes having a character who, say, is popular, have a fear of crowds, can definitely be worked into a story. Really, it's all about how your present the weakness through the character, not necessarily that weakness itself.
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24 / M / Atlantic Beach, NC
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Posted 4/26/14 , edited 4/26/14
The main element I've found I use when I write characters is that I put a large emphasis on an over-dependence on a person or element that they believe keeps them from losing their humanity. It may come off as a bit easy, but honestly it's very effective as the most profound influences on a main character are the other characters themselves. So latching on to a character that stands as an ideal to them can create a very powerful connection for the reader and characters, and by limiting the cast to a more focused few you can expand on them to an extent that makes everyone they encounter continuously engaging.

All of my fictional characters that I've put effort into all have some kind of element that makes them monstrous. One story I wrote back in college was about a guy who was bitten by a vampire, and struggles to hold on to the values that made him human even as his body is turning into a monster. In this struggle he finds an idealistic woman and wants to live up to a standard that she would be proud of as while he doesn't reveal to her what is happening to him, she treats him with a fairness that he can't find anywhere else in his life, even though he ultimately fails as he loses control of himself and kills her.

My personal favorite used the magic girl set-up, where her little sister attempted suicide and she used her wish to spare her life. This ended up at the cost of her life as she literally dies, and is later resurrected by her master, the one that granted her that wish. And for the rest of eternity she has to serve him to ward off nightmarish spirits that try to possess people and cause them to do bad things to themselves or others, and she dutifully watches over her sister for her entire lifespan and ultimately watches her die in her bed. With her soul reason for existence gone she struggles to find motivation to continue existing (of course a lot of other stuff happens up to that point too). This is still a work in progress though and something that I think I might actually try to get published one day if I feel confident enough in it.
Posted 5/12/14 , edited 5/12/14
When making a main character for one of my series, I decided to experiment with certain main character tropes and pushing them to the maximum level which makes them heavily unbalanced.

One of my main characters has a messiah complex. He doesn't just want to save humanity, he wants to become an icon for saving the world, when questioned, he claims he doesn't mind being worshiped although in reality, he just doesn't want to lose an argument.
He also wishes he had the power to control everyone in order to do what he wants
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Posted 5/30/14
It depends on the story for me. The flaw would be based on that or a certain theme I'd like to convey.
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25 / M / The heart of Linc...
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Posted 5/30/14
The hero who doesn't take failure well. They always get stronger, they save the day, they defeat evil but there's some battles they can't win and it haunts them. I.E. guy saves 1 person over the other, he can't forget or forgive himself. It eats away and thus he doesn't think he can be a hero.

The other is fearing they'll lose control of their power, that it makes them a monster and hurts everyone they get close to.

One villain is his hunt for perfection, so blinded by what he desires he ignores the very quality that is the living, unique.

There's the typical deadly sins as well. Then there's phobias. You can have those that fear it without reason, those that refuse to conquer it or those that snap from it.
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20 / M / Newburgh, New York
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Posted 6/3/14 , edited 6/3/14
Hero's weakness; not a real "good guy" often times does evil things with the idea of the ends justify the means. In many recent stories my protagonist has been destined to a horrid end, such as an earth born demon who can never set foot in Heaven and is destined to return to hell, or a super human's who's abilities were passed down from Judas the Deceiver, thus meaning he must be forever hated for peace to rise in the land.

Villain's weakness; Often times the "good guy," antagonists tend to be not those who are evil, but rather just people who's motives come into conflict with the protagonist. My newest villian has the curse of knowing all things, including the fact that he is the villian in a story and regardless of what he does or thinks or plans, I as the writer will kill him off. He has no real control over his actions and can only freely control what he can tell other people, however, other people believe themselves to be human beings and so his straightforward approach of telling people they are but characters is just passed off as either philosophical ranting or just crazy talk.
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Posted 6/12/14
Well I'm going to use hubris, excessive pride. Hubris is used as the main character's downfall in Greek tragedies. I think it's a great flaw because pride is one of the deadly human sins and it can be shown by the recklessness of the character's actions or even the rash in his words.
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24 / M / Los Santos San An...
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Posted 10/19/14 , edited 10/19/14
I tend to give my characters humanity as a weakness. No. Not an emotional load of BS that prevents them from wanting to kill the enemy just because "everyone deserves to live". As an actual weakness when placed in a setting that would make it harder for them to fight.

My character is 95% human (50%Japanese 45% Mexican ) and 5% Saiyan. While he is stronger than normal humans (Strong enough to be on par with Spiderman on a bad day, but dead if a bullet goes through his ear), he's a failure of his race compared to his ancestors and would even get his as handed to him by a semi truck coming his way. In essence, in the stories where it's a more fantastical setting with more than human inhabitants, he'd be the Yamcha of the group. Or almost any group that uses non human team members.

He makes up for this with brain usage and fighting technique (Only useful on beings of his level). I also give him laziness so that explains why he doesn't train like his ancestors. He's naturally fit and doesn't really age. But he doesn't grow stronger from laying around and he's too lazy to do anything beyond a decent human exercise routine. When weaker than usual, he's about as strong as Captain America or Batman. Peak human.
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Posted 10/22/14 , edited 10/23/14
Regardless of what weakness you choose, it's tough to draw that weakness out of a character without a foil. If you're not familiar, basically a foil is a character used to reflect another character's personality, and it's the best way I've found to invent and draw out a weakness, and also an integral part in turning weakness into strength.

Character weaknesses can be internal or external, but the idea of weakness isn't interesting enough in itself if it never presents a well thought out problem. Like, say, you've written a story where a beloved ally is caught in a fire. Your main character might be afraid of fire if you want to develop the idea of a main character overcoming or succumbing to weakness. They may either charge in or watch their friend die. If you don't think that weakness fits with your character, a less important character might watch as the hero goes fearlessly into the fire, but makes some narration about how they could never. Or, for the opposite, the less important character might take the role as a hero and either instill love or envy or hatred or whatever within the main character.

Or, to put it more broadly, maybe the main character has to decide between charging into the fire to save his friend or leaving it behind to catch his enemy,

It's really open this way. Characters have to be foils for other characters.

Examples:
The character is totally lost and lacks confidence in a situation. A foil has or fakes confidence and knowledge, but the character must decide whether to trust the foil.

The character and the foil are of totally opposing viewpoints but both want to take charge of the situation. The foil has almost all of the same strengths as the character, so the character must have one strength that the foil does not in order to take charge of the situation.

The character and the foil have different means to the same end. The character must have some deeper reason or greater power to go about reaching the same end that the foil lacks.


Really, to me it doesn't matter what the weaknesses are or where they begin or end. It's mostly important to showcase how these weaknesses affect the story, and the authenticity and continuity behind overcoming them. Any character can be used as a foil for another character to imply weakness without really having to sort out exactly what the weakness is. You can substitute villains and heroes and bystanders and animals and environments and fate in for any of the characters or foils. For a rivalry, two important characters can act as foils to each other, and then it's up to you whether you want to make that rivalry friendly or vicious.



Damn it anyway, the rails one must ride.
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