I am a big proponent of making sure that any character I create has a flaw. I’m not just talking a physical deformity here. It could be mental such as something along the lines of insecurity like Patricia in The Romance Novel Book Club or arrogance like Talbot in Talbot’s Ploy. I have done physical ailments as well but let’s face it, they are easier to project.
I recently watched a movie called Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close. I was surprised to find that it was a book published in 2005 by Jonathan Safran Foer. Shame on me as a writer for not knowing that. Still, I thought it exemplifies the type of character flaws I find endearing.
Oskar Schell is the main character of the book. He has a lot of fears some people would find a bit silly, such as never taking public transportation. Throughout the movie, when he’s on his quest, he has a tambourine that he shakes when he’s walking through New York City like it would ward off any bad things from happening. I chuckled everytime he used it. Him spewing out little facts and being open to total strangers about what his quest was also showed the little quirks in the character. He was far from normal and, for me, that’s what made the character outstanding.
I also enjoyed how Oskar learned to overcome some of his fears through his journey. I think it’s important to show growth in a character as well. They should still be perfectly flawed yet overcome what’s holding them back in their world.
Let’s face it. Without the character having some flaw in a book, it goes into the realm of unbelieveable to me. No one’s perfect in real life, and I don’t want to see that in my books either. Of course I also don’t want to see the character make the same mistake over and over or the flaw only to come in play to make another main character seemingly ‘save the day’. It’s lame and cliché to me. Enrich my reading experience, don’t debase my intelligence. That’s what alcohol’s for. 😉
So what are your views on character flaws?