There And Draft Again

A Fellowship of Fantasy Writers

Character Limitations April 11, 2013

Hello readers!!

I want to apologize for my lateness of posting. I live in a very rural area and even an ounce of wind knocks out our Internet and we had 70 mph gusts! Originally, I had planned to do a post on voice in fantasy, but my little issue got me to thinking. As a person, I am limited in all sorts of ways. I don’t have reliable internet, making it hard for me to be reliable to post on time. I have ADD, which makes me limited in the amount of time I can spend writing or doing any sort of activity for long periods of time. It also tends to make me irritated because I focus on too many things at once and not enough on what I’m actually trying to do. I live in the middle of nowhere, so if you want to come visit me, prepare to get lost in some corn.

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Seriously, the middle of NO where.

However, all of these things make me who I am, make me a very flawed but believable human being (hopefully). Characters deserve the same amount of flaws.

So your heroine is a badass knight who can chop off foes with one sweep of a battle ax. That’s awesome! But how is she limited? We want to be able to understand and become the character we are reading about, so the character needs to be sympathetic in some way, shape, or form. She/He needs a major flaw to help us lowly non-ax wielding individuals feel like we (the reader and the character) are on the same level. She could have anger issues, or perhaps she is a huge ditz and forgets where she killed the body. Too often the go to for hard, tough, girl characters is zero emotion (*cough* *cough* Katniss, why couldn’t you just love Peeta like he loved you?!). To stand out and be original, you need to give your character a different or additional flaw.

Don’t ignore the limitation of locale either. If your ax worrier is in the middle of the city practicing weapons, I doubt the city guard will like that very much. S/he might end up in jail more than they actual defend the city. If your main character is a cow salesman on a ranch in the middle of Wyoming, they are more than likely comfortable with a gun in their hands and those evil goblins coming to suck out his/her soul might have more than a fight than they bargained for.

In short, people are all flawed, they are limited. Since your main character is a person to you and to your readers, they need to be flawed too.

In need of a flaw? Here’s a short list!

  • Narcissism
  •   Insecurity
  • Fear of Heights/ Spiders/ the dark/ monkeys/ rabbits/ a lone goose/large, open areas/ tiny spaces/ ect.
  • Gambling addiction/alcohol addiction/ ect.
  • No Social Skills
  • Too friendly it borderlines creepy
  • Fumbles for words
  • Too Nice
  • Bad Liar
  • Brilliant, but very lazy
  • Can’t Keep A Secret
  • Conditioned to Accept Horror
  • Control Freak
  • Man Child/Woman Child-the character is an adult, but they still have attitudes as if they were a child
  • Ignores duty
  • Neat Freak
  • Can’t Say No to a Challenge
  • Overprotective
  • Picky Eater
  • Rebellious
  • Stubborn
  • Is an excellent liar
  • Sore Loser
  • Wildcard
  • Needs Constant Approval from Others
  • Stoic

Good luck and Happy Writing!

Jess

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2 Responses to “Character Limitations”

  1. katemsparkes Says:

    I read “Ignores Duty” as “Ignores Nudity.” That’s a whole other kind of flaw. O.o

    Agreed about *cough* Katniss *cough cough* I loved the books but never loved her like I wanted to. Her flaw was that she was too cold and hard, which made me feel absolutely no empathy toward her (and then I felt guilty for NOT feeling it, because the poor girl’s had a hard life, y’know?). But then, I have friends who think she’s the cat’s pajamas, so I guess that’s personal opinion.

    Now if you’ll excuse me, I have a character who possesses many of these flaws, but he’s not afraid of a lone goose. Yet.

  2. kathils Says:

    Great list. There needs to be a bit of balance though. The flaw can’t be so overwhelming that it becomes intolerable — similar to Katniss, I’m guessing. Yes, I’m one of the few that hasn’t read or seen Hunger Games. But I did just invest time and money in the first book of a series where the main character is a spoiled, sadistic, rampaging, boy. Through the whole book he really doesn’t change. If anything, he gets worse. I didn’t like him in the beginning. I wanted to slap him (even if I would have then lost my arm). I stuck with the book because I liked some of the other characters and was hoping it would get better. Now I’m angry because to read the rest of their stories I’d have to continue reading his and I’d rather someone take his head off.

    “Ignores Nudity”, huh, Kate? 😉


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