F is for Flaws

My theme for the A to Z challenge this year is Storytelling. I'll be writing posts on what I think you need to create a good story; the posts will vary from basics that all writers use in their stories, to themes/tropes that I love to see in stories that I read, and that I use when I write.

F is for Flaws

I think it's hugely important to give all of your characters flaws; it helps the reader to relate to them, and therefore care about them more.

Think about it; nobody is perfect. Everybody has personality traits, fears and habits that hold them back, and your characters are no different. Who wants to read a book about someone who does the right thing all the time, with no consequences for their actions? That would be boring, and really unrealistic. 

Your character's flaws should prevent them from reaching their goal; this creates an internal conflict for the character. They are basically stopping themselves from getting what they want. It also creates tension in your story; will they ever overcome their flaw? Will it cause problems for them?

For example, the protagonist in my novel has a hard time trusting people, and because of this he refuses to accept help from people, instead preferring to do things alone. This puts him in situations where he is in a position to be bested by the enemy, purely because he wouldn't trust the people that could have helped him. 

By the end of your novel, your character should have either overcome their flaw, or at least tried to. They need to show character growth in some way. My protagonist, for example, isn't going to overcome his trust issues straight away, as they're very deeply ingrained in him. He is, however, aware of how his trust issues cause problems for him, so he visibly tries to put his trust in people throughout the course of the story. You can see that he has changed from the character at the beginning who wouldn't trust anyone, to a character who is aware that he has trust issues and is trying to overcome them, by (reluctantly) putting his trust in people.


  1. I think flaws are a good thing. No one wants perfect characters at the start of a story! Even by the end, I think a few small things should still linger...

  2. Excellent point. Flawed characters are more human and far more easy for readers to relate to than perfect ones. Find me here.LINK

  3. I think thats the primary difference between fairytales and novels / stories for adults. The well defined black and white blend and form different shades of gray.

    jaishwrites - F for??? (flashfiction)

  4. Nicely put.

    The only time I would contest a flaw in a character is when it is used too blatantly, kind of like when you're at a job interview and they ask you for something that you think you don't do well and you say something cheesy like, 'well, I do think I sometimes have too much attention to detail' - it's not really a flaw, it's a fake flaw, and badly written flaws can come out like that.
    Sophie's Thoughts & Fumbles - Dragon Diaries

  5. Flaws make the picture perfect for the story! Many stories keep evolving around us, just because no one is perfect. Life would have been dull without them...It was good read indeed.
    Team MocktailMommies
    Collage Of Life

  6. I agree. Flaws make characters more interesting. On the other hand, if the flaw is what defines the character, that can become one-note after a while. It's tricky to balance the character's flaws with other facets of their personality to make them seem more believable and not just an archetype.

  7. Flaws are definitely important. I remember my writing instructor reminding me about that, early in the course. I made my characters too perfect.

  8. Flaws are definitely important. I remember my writing instructor reminding me about that, early in the course. I made my characters too perfect.


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