In the “real world,” character flaws are a no no. That’s why they’re called flaws, correct? But on paper, characters who are not flawed will bore you to tears faster than you can say, “Pollyanna.” Yesterday, Deb Eleanor asked a terrific question, who are your favorite characters from books. I immediately commented with, “Professor Snape, Hannibal Lecter and Madame DeFarge.” Then I looked at my list – quite a group of scalliwags (pirate moment for Deb Tawna.) We love to hate flawed characters, and that engagement keeps us turning pages. Every genre needs good character development. Lucy Van Pelt is critical to Charlie Brown’s success as a cartoon – and yet she’s as prickly as a cactus. And Charles M. Schultz managed to convey her flaws in no more than a few panels with a handful of words – genius.
My debut book is non-fiction, so I only had so much leeway in developing characters. However, even when working with real people, you can dig into where their flaws and foibles lie. I think I was pretty honest about my own flaws, starting with the title.
If you had to write about yourself, what flaw would you want to expose? Or hide?