• I. L. Tanis

Characters Post 1

What? You're back for more?

Well, I guess you want those writer tips as promised, so I'll do my best.

Well, this was a pretty busy week, so I apologize for the shortness of this post. I had an epic camping adventure and forgot all about this Monday!

Also, just a heads up; since I am doing a character series, I may be posting other articles during the week, so keep an eye out for other posts ;)

Well, let's get started before I forget what I was going to say.

Flaws. . .

An ominous word for a writer.

It's hard to admit flaws, but remember, we all have them. I will be honest; my greatest struggles are disrespect and a good ol’ dose of stubbornness, It is so very important to remember every person has flaws, even though some aren't as noticeable as others.

The important reason behind giving your characters flaws is that there is no such thing as a perfect human. The only perfect being to ever walk this earth is Jesus Christ, and although Christians should strive to be more and more like Him, we'll never be perfect.

Flaws also make your characters more relatable to the readers, and, therefore, readers will care more for them.

Now, let's get down to business.

There is no such thing as the perfect man or the perfect woman (sorry, romantics, but it’s true). There’s a simple way to make flaws in your beloved character.

Now, don’t misunderstand me; you don’t have to make your main character a rotten little sinner who perpetually chooses wrong (unless your story is supposed to be his/her character arc from bad to good or they're the bad guy).

I’m only going to do one today because I haven’t been able to finish the others, but I’ll work on more for upcoming articles.

Disrespect flaw

I chose to do this flaw first because it is the first that came to mind. this is a real problem for some people. Many struggle with disrespect or submission. These two things are not one-in-the-same. You can be submissive without respect, and you can respect but not be submissive.

Teenagers seem to be experts at this, and I know I inwardly struggle with it, even if I am submissive to authority. Just because my mom tells me to sort out the old freezer full of who-knows-what out in the shop and I do it, doesn’t mean I’m not annoyed and grumbling inwardly. Disrespect is a problem of the heart.

Maybe it’s the sullen face, a snappy answer, or deliberately annoying someone. Or the eye-roll some of us teens have learned so well!

It can really add depth to your story to show this struggle, but unless the point is for them to be disrespectful the entire time, show that they have this difficult time for a reason.

Some people honestly have a tendency to challenge authority and be disrespectful when they think the person doesn’t deserve their respect and attention. It’s not always just a matter of wanting to be a pain.

I’ve noticed it quite clearly with some young boys when female authority figures are over them; they wouldn’t be disrespectful like that to their dad or male authority, but it’s like they just have to challenge the woman. It’s like they have a logic in their mind that we gals don’t understand.

But hold up, gals, it’s not just boys and men; we do it too, just usually with more words and obvious drama.

This is a flaw I actually enjoy using in my characters way too much because there’s so much room for improvement.

You can have a character who’s absolutely lovely, but does not have respect for authority; they blatantly disobey the law, they’re rude to their elders, they treat others very unkindly, etc.

They might influence others to make a bad decision, and there are terrible consequences for them. Or maybe they don’t get caught for a long time, because they're smart and know how to avoid getting in trouble. This kind of situation can be good for a character arc of 'bad to good', once they are in trouble they can learn from it.

For example: in my story, there is a prince who is very disrespectful. He needs a good lesson, but no one is brave enough to teach it, because he’s a prince, so he gets away with being a jerk and a generally unlikeable being.

He does know better, but he doesn’t care. By the time we meet him again in book 2, he's almost sixteen, and way worse than the beginning of book 1!

His father, the king, is very busy, giving him less attention than he wants, his sister is mooning over a boy, and therefore distracted, and his mother has been dead for a few years now. He’s got a bad group of friends and is very narrow-minded.

Then his father sends him to the land of their former enemies, several hundred miles away on an island, where no one would give a mud pie for his title. They treat him as they do anyone else, and he learns he has to earn their respect. After all, he can’t exactly demand it from people who could easily pound him into mincemeat the second he acts like he did back home. It takes a long time, but eventually, through a lot of embarrassment and hard work, he becomes a more genuine person, and a hard worker who, even though still struggling with disrespect, has learned humility, and is much better than he was.

I hope that was helpful, and that you can see there are many ways to show this flaw, but you can probably think of at least a few without much help. Make sure to give the other characters flaws, too! No one is perfect, and there are so many things we all mess up with.

Well, I’m gonna get back to scheming, so until next time, keep stormin' the castles of your imagination and conquer those annoying walls of writer's block!



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