What are some character flaws

What are flaws in character and what makes a good one?

The word "sign" is used in two different ways. There is "character" in the sense of "qualities" - the way a person does things that is different from the way others do things. If someone whistles while they work, that's a characteristic.

The second meaning is moral character. A moral character is not a set of differentiators as we want everyone to have the same moral principles and behaviors. Every moral character should be the same.

The common sense of the word misspellings refers to the second meaning. Another word for it is sin. It is the sin or sins that the person has to do over and over again. Lady Mary's constant sniffing at Edith in Downton Abbey is a character flaw (or the result of one). Of course, a character flaw in this sense of the word is also a characteristic in the first sense of the word: a piece of typical behavior.

A trait in the first, non-moral sense could possibly also be viewed as a fault in a particular situation. Someone with a nervous disposition may not be best suited to the task of command. Someone who is impetuous and clumsy may not be a good china seller. In other words, her character can make her unfit for a job, even though it is not a moral failure. It's only a mistake related to the task.

In a sense, however, these two meanings converge because, in relation to the story, a protagonist is faced with a challenge that he must do in order to gain a wish or avoid a loss, and the crux of the story is the test he faces must ask. this is the decision they must make in order to be successful (or what will cause their failure).

And so the character has to come to a point, to a task, to a decision, for which he is in an important way unsuitable. If they were well suited, the task would be easy to do without drama and we would have no story. Superman can save cats from trees all day as this is a job he is great for, but the third time we saw him we find it a chore. It's the job he's somehow unsuitable for that makes an interesting story.

So a good mistake is precisely the kind of mistake that makes it difficult, painful, and fundamentally difficult for the protagonist to achieve the goal that he must pursue through the events of the story. Any mistake can be good if it plays that role, and any mistake can be bad if it doesn't.

So finish the following sentence:

My protagonist has to ________________________ and that is extremely difficult for them because they are ______________________________________.

The second space is your protagonist's character flaw.


+1 for another good answer with a good example. I have a question, however: with that answer, it seems that a character flaw is going to be a crucial part of the main problem. Can't it just be part of creating a realistic character, in the sense of not being "perfect"? What if the story puts our character in such a critical position (perhaps preferring one person's life to another) where the character's problem is simply "being human"?

Lauren Ipsum

"We want everyone to have the same moral principles and behavior. Every moral character should be the same." Can you get that straight?

Mark Baker

@LaurenIpsum I mean whatever our moral code is, we think it applies to everyone equally. Otherwise the concept of moral error would be meaningless. A mistake is a departure from the design intent. There must be a consistent design intent to identify a bug.

Mark Baker

@storbror, do you mean a character flaw other than a bit of color? Well a feature is not a bug except related to a task, so it would not appear as a bug unless it was essential to the arc. A moral flaw is always there - the preference is always there - but how does this manifest other than in action? If it comes out in action, it's probably story relevant. If not, why are you bringing it up? I'm all for mercy notes in character descriptions, but I'm not sure how much random moral error contributes to it. Don't we expect a revealed moral failure to play a role in the story?

Mark Baker

@Lew No, I mean, moral principles are inherently universal. Whatever your principles, you think they apply to everyone. Here, too, an error is a deviation from a specification. Unless there is a specification outside of the part in question, the word "bug" has no meaning. A moral or character flaw can only mean a deviation from an objective standard of character or morality. Otherwise the term is meaningless. This does not mean that moral standards are objective or not. It simply means that the term moral error is meaningless if it is not.