When writing your first short story or novel, you are sure to come across something called Character Defects. And while it would be awesome if these weren’t a thing, character defects are often what makes a character human.
Character defects are often called character flaws. And there is nothing negative about the character. They are often looked down upon but they make the character relatable and turn them into well-rounded characters for the plot.
In this article, we go into detail on what character defects are, the different types of character defects and which ones are great for making your story full and imaginative.
Let’s get into it!
Character Defects Explained
A character defect or character flaw is a negative quality that impacts them or other characters in a significant way. As the writer, you have control over just how much this flaw is going to affect the story and other characters in the book.
The characteristics that define a character defect are broad as both chatterbox and homicidal can be one. And the severity of the defect is completely up to you and your story.
Each of them has predictable outcomes, but the allure of defects is that they nonetheless manifest differently in many personalities depending on the character’s other characteristics, upbringing, and environment.
The 3 Types Of Character Flaws
Now, in order to better understand character flaws they have been broken down into three categories:
This is a flaw that has a minor impact on a character’s life. For example, being forgetful or untidy. Yes, it is noted as a flaw but overall, it has little harm to the character themselves or other characters throughout the story.
A major flaw has a more damaging effect. This may be selfishness or hypocrisy. It is deep within the character and may even cause arguments or have harmful consequences but it does not derail the entire story.
This is the final type of flaw and has the most impact. That character’s collapse is brought on by a fatal fault, albeit it is not usually physical death that results—it might also be moral death, the end of love, etc.
This is the biggest type of flaw and it tends to build over time while being masked by other major or minor flaws. A fatal flaw can be self-sabotage or even extreme pride.
Now, while character defects are broken down into categories, the severity of a flaw is determined by the character. For one character, a flaw can be minor while for another it is completely fatal.
It is important to select a character’s flaws carefully as they play an integral part in the plot. You want to give your characters depth and their flaws are the way to do that while keeping your readers on their toes.
Tips For Writing Character Defects
The way that you introduce and develop your character’s defects is essential for a good plot. We have some tips and tricks to help you:
Get Out Of Your Head
When working on something so closely, you can often get lost in the world you are creating and lose perspective. Getting out of your head can give you a new sense of perspective and allow you to really see how a flaw is going to play out.
You also need to consider how the other characters will be impacted by the flaw. For example, if Highsmith wrote Ripley to feel remorse instead of relief from jail, the story would be entirely different.
Let The Defect Do The Talking
While you have to do the work of introducing a character, building a plot, and creating a new world, the defect you select can do its own work.
A self-righteous character would help direct dialogue and actions as they believe themselves to be morally above others while being detrimental to the relationships around them.
Make Them Unlikeable
Often, authors are afraid to write unlikeable characters as it means their readers won’t enjoy every word they read. However, are Marvel afraid to make their villains evil?
There are ways to make a character unlikeable without ruining the entire premise of the book.
But if you can introduce that character to the reader without passing judgment on the author if you can make the character think that their flaw is their strength, and if you can keep the character from realizing that they have a flaw until the world falls apart and they are forced to face their flaws (and change) head-on…
List Of Character Flaws
Now that you know what a character defect is and how to introduce it to your story, we can discuss some of them. Below is a list of character flaws that are loved and work brilliantly.
- Awkward: An awkward character is extremely popular. Whether they are socially isolated or simply avoid social interaction it makes for a great minor flaw.
- Obnoxious: This works great for the villain of the story such as the mean girl who is used to getting her own way. It adds friction between the characters.
- Possessive: Possessive characters are often used in fantasy romance novels but it does not always mean they are possessive in a romantic sense. Characters can be possessive in both familial and in friendship settings.
- Self-destructive: Self-sabotage or self-destruction is a common flaw in characters who have had a hard past. It is often used as a fatal flaw and is important for the story as a whole.
Character defects, while often overlooked, are essential for the success of any story. It is the catapult for the decisions that a character makes and can aid in building a relationship with the reader.
Without character defects, our characters would be too good and too perfect. Creating an illusion that no one can relate to.
We discuss what character defects are, how to write them with purpose and give you a list of some of the most common flaws.
All you have to do is write and determine just how much a flaw is going to impact your story.