Beyond the Hook: Character Flaws?

My husband gave me a turquoise ring I enjoy wearing. For one, the stone was unearthed from the Sleeping Beauty Mine in Arizona, which has since closed. The location seems cool to me since our agency’s corporate headquarters is located in Phoenix. And since the mine is no longer in operation, the stone possesses special cachet. But more important, my husband likes the ring and wants me to have it.

But perhaps not everyone would have wanted this ring. Why? At first blush, the stone appears flawless. But closer examination reveals a visible matrix from the host rock. Rather than decreasing my enjoyment of the ring, however, I find the pattern fascinating. It adds interest. I often study it.

Likewise, a character who’s seemingly flawless might reveal, upon closer examination, a unique and intriguing matrix. I’ve been told by many readers that they don’t enjoy reading about two perfect people falling in love. Rather, eccentricities and flaws add interest and dimension.

Your turn:

Can you name a character who seemed perfect, but with flaws that added intrigue?

What flaw does your current hero or heroine display?

Are your characters’ flaws endearing, or aspects to be overcome?

29 Responses to Beyond the Hook: Character Flaws?

  1. Avatar
    Kailee Diaz November 9, 2017 at 6:12 am #

    I recently began Heidi Chiavaroli’s debut. At first meeting, her character–Brad–seems perfect, but his past haunts him. I love when we discover “perfect” characters have something hidden. Isn’t that most of us? It makes the characters relateable.

    On another note, your turquoise ring sounds like a wonderful accessory for a good book.

    • Avatar
      Heidi Chiavaroli November 9, 2017 at 8:35 am #

      Kailee, I’m so glad to hear this (and thank you for reading!). Character development has been something I often struggled with, so I appreciate your kind words, and Tamela, I love the comparison of your ring to a good character! So true–thank you for this post!

    • Avatar
      Tamela Hancock Murray November 9, 2017 at 5:22 pm #

      Kailee, I would love to see a character wear the ring!

  2. Avatar
    Damon J. Gray November 9, 2017 at 6:30 am #

    I don’t read much non-fiction, but the first “character” that came to my mind was Peter. Peter was impulsive, brash, frightened, yet the same man who stood boldly on the day of Pentecost and blew out a life-changing sermon for thousands.

    Move backward a bit farther. Solomon, despite his godly beginning, religious education, and profound intellectual blessings, fell into idolatry, sensuality, and love of opulence. Solomon’s father, David, the one scripture describes as a man after God’s own heart, carried out horrible atrocities, committing adultery with, and impregnating, the wife of one of his devoted soldiers, and then murdering the man after his feeble attempts to obfuscate the nature of the pregnancy failed. Bathsheba, David’s partner in adultery, betrayed her honorable husband to have a fling with the king.

    Rather than disgust me, these flaws in my spiritual ancestors intrigue me, and give me great hope because our God is merciful.

    • Avatar
      Carol Ashby November 9, 2017 at 8:29 am #

      Damon, I don’t blame Bathsheba for what happened. In those days, if the king decided he wanted her, a woman had zero choice in the matter. Bathing on her rooftop should have been a safe, private thing to do. She did work on David later to get her second son promoted over older brothers to become king. Was she knowingly doing God’s will or just being pushy mother out to help her son?. That’s an interesting character question.

      • Avatar
        Tamela Hancock Murray November 9, 2017 at 5:20 pm #

        Damon and Carol, your comments serve to illustrate how rich and textured the Bible is!

  3. Avatar
    Loretta Eidson November 9, 2017 at 6:46 am #

    In the beginning of writing my first novel, Angie appeared flawless which made her life dull and my critique partners didn’t find much depth in her. Once I added her self-doubts, past pain, and anger, her personality came alive. Now she’s an interesting character with real issues to overcome.

  4. Avatar
    Sheriena November 9, 2017 at 7:47 am #

    Talk about character flaw, one of my favorite authors is Francine Rivers. My favorite book? The Last Sin Eater. Serious character flaws.

  5. Avatar
    Melissa Henderson November 9, 2017 at 8:40 am #

    This message reminds me to add more depth to one of my characters. He needs some more background. Thank you. 🙂

  6. Avatar
    David Winters November 9, 2017 at 8:48 am #

    Tamela, Good reminder

  7. Avatar
    Carol Ashby November 9, 2017 at 9:00 am #

    Interesting post, Tamela. I’d say my characters’ flaws are a mixture of endearing and needing to be overcome. I’m writing in the Roman era, where what was considered good and even noble runs counter to today’s standards. Three of my heroes are young Roman aristocrats fulfilling their mandatory military service. By the standards of their time, they start out as good examples of what Rome considered honorable, but they all go through major changes as their eyes are opened to see how their unquestioning acceptance of their pagan world’s standards is not the way they want to live.

  8. Avatar
    Toni Wilbarger November 9, 2017 at 12:55 pm #

    My current heroine’s flaw is that she thinks she can handle life all by herself. She trusts no one. This is a flaw to be overcome. Against her wishes, she becomes involved with three women who teach her that we all need each other.

  9. Avatar
    rochllino November 9, 2017 at 1:38 pm #

    In my completed novel the protagonist has a panoply of believable character attributes which sets them far apart from the average or mundane person. I regard a “flaw”as a negative attribute and a “gift” as a positive attribute. Many types of attributes, both positive and negative, encourage a vicarious relationship with the reader. In my stories attributes are not always exclusively flaws and remain highly compelling aspects of a characters profile.

    Often times over the course of the novel some characters will experience a “character arc” containing both negative and positive attributes that culminate in a very satisfying but not predictable resolution.

    Hebrews 2:4
    God also testified to it by signs, wonders and various miracles, and by gifts of the Holy Spirit distributed according to his will.

  10. Avatar
    Dale Rogers November 9, 2017 at 3:48 pm #

    I hadn’t thought of it as a character flaw when I wrote my latest manuscript, but my main protagonist is shy and unsure of herself in certain situations. Thanks for the reminder that these flaws are necessary. Gorgeous ring, by the way!

  11. Avatar
    Joanne Reese November 9, 2017 at 4:59 pm #

    Beautiful ring, Tamela. Turquoise has a nostalgic connotation for me. My Grandma Dottie used to wear lots of it. Your ring is a reminder of how much light she added to my life.

  12. Avatar
    Natalie Walters November 9, 2017 at 6:05 pm #

    Ooh, Charlie Lionheart from Joanne Bischof’s The Lady and the Lionheart. His flaws drew me to him instantly and made me fall in love with his character as he grew in spite of the flaws.

  13. Avatar
    Mary November 27, 2017 at 9:25 am #

    Love Sleeping Beauty turquoise. Live the article because flaws and complexity is what makes a character have depth. I have a character who appears to be strong and is but suffers from severe quiet but debilitating panic attacks. He has them everywhere and no one is aware. Only he knows his fear. Everyone looks to him as a rock but like your turquoise stone it is his past trauma he shares with no one that keeps getting mined out of his mind.

  14. Avatar
    Cynthia Mahoney aka Claire O'Sullivan January 8, 2018 at 7:42 pm #

    Gorgeous ring, and wonderful post. I love flaws. No, really.

    First novel, my heroine is at times panicky and makes rash decisions at the worst possible moments, and her decision-making is questionable. As she grows in her faith, things improve. But she falls back into old habits at times (wait, why does this sound all… too… familiar?).

    My second novel, my heroine has it ‘all together’ professionally (more or less)
    but emotionally shuts down due to an all-too-real problem of those suffering PTSD when thrust into situations that require her to be strong.

    And our love interests — and all other characters neeeeeeed flaws. If they don’t, they too, fall flat.

    In Crime and Punishment, our MC — as we are dragged through an agonizing back story which tells the why so we (me, anyway) roots for the poor young man to commit the murder… ahem, we see his flaws and all, as well as his ‘real heart.’ His return to faith is endearing as well.

    Great post, and I am with ya!

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