Make Your Characters A Little Weak

Good character development means making your characters as believable as possible. To do that you need a mix of characteristics and traits. Make your characters beautiful and vain, homely and giving, beautiful and unassuming, ugly and evil, lovely and evil, or even ugly and the kindest person in your fictional world. It’s up to you. The only caveat is to not make your characters with no flaws.

Everyone has weaknesses. People are not perfect and your characters shouldn’t be either. Superman has a reaction to kryptonite for a reason. Without kryptonite, Superman would be invincible. Kryptonite gives him a weakness which increases the suspense and tension of any Superman story. Let’s face it, without kryptonite, a Superman story would go something like this, a criminal commits a crime. Superman swoops in and saves the day. End of story. Boring!

Good stories require conflict and tension. Perfect characters make that extremely difficult. That’s why they created kryptonite. Perfect characters are not only unbelievable, they can mess with the story’s tension and suspense. Properly flawed characters provide us with opportunities for suspense. Would the recovering alcoholic hero save the girl or fall back into an alcoholic haze? Will the reformed thief return the million-dollar necklace or take it and run? These questions are the one your readers should ask about your characters, hero or otherwise. It adds suspense to the story.

Give your characters some flaws that could potentially prevent them from winning the day. Or make it reasonable they don’t win the day, depending on how you want your story to end. Give them flaws that will allow people to relate. Who could relate to Superman if kryptonite wasn’t there to take him down?
Just as you don’t want a perfect hero, you don’t want a totally evil villain. Everyone has some good mixed with the bad. Give your villain some good qualities mixed with the bad. Perhaps the villain’s childhood warped their perspectives. It happens in real life and can happen in fiction as well. No one is wholly good or completely evil. People are a mixture of both. Your villain should have it’s own moral compass – a skewed one perhaps but they should have one. Maybe the villain has a perfectly valid reason for what they do. Maybe they just believe the ends justify the means. Sometimes the glimpse of goodness in a villain make them more terrifying than if the goodness wasn’t there.

So give your characters a good mix of good and evil, strength and weakness. They will be more believable, which will make them come to life on the page. That, after all, is the goal. Create good, flawed characters and present them with problems to solve. Your readers will love them.


I am not one who is comfortable talking about myself but here goes. I enjoy writing, family history, and reading. I decided to do this blog because I wanted to try something new. I decided to make it a weekly blog because I wasn't sure that I could keep up with a daily one, and monthly seemed like I was writing a magazine. I think I did ok with my choices. You'll notice that there are not a lot of graphics on my site. That's because there are graphics plastered everywhere on the Internet and those sites sometimes take forever to load. This blog is a place where you can kick back, relax and be ready to be amused. At least I hope I willbamuse you. This blog is on a variety of subjects from my ficitional cat agency, the FFL, which is monthly, to instructional blogs to editorials, which are my opinions only. I admit that I don't know everything and could be wrong -- I frequently am. Now, stop reading about me and read what I have to say!

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Posted in General Opinion, Writing Fiction, Writing Techniques

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© Lisa Hendrickson and Pebblepup's Writing Den, 2010-2017. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this site’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Lisa Hendrickson and Pebblepup's Writing Den with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.
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