Question 2: What is Your Character's Flaw (And why it matters)

       scout flaw

       The next question to ask yourself: What is the character’s flaw?  It is helpful if the flaw is the negative extreme of the gift.  In TO KILL A MOCKINGBIRD, Scout's flaws (the extremes of her strength and loyalty) can be seen as her stubbornness, wilfullness and pride, all of which get her into trouble.  The extreme of her innocence can be seen as naivete about the true nature of good and evil.  

       Flaws are important in the "survivalist" theory of storytelling because readers need the character to get into trouble so we can see the worst case scenario of the story, and what to avoid in life  Flawed characters are interesting because they cause things to happen around them, which motivates the reader to turn the pages and satisfies the need for story.

       Don't worry that a flawed (read: human) character will be unsympathetic.  Flaws will actually make them more sympathetic because we will be able to identify with them.  Of course, a really negative character will be hard to identify with. That's why their gift is so important.  (See last week's post)

       Next week we will talk about what the character wants and how this human desire will also help make the character easy to relate to.  Even an anti-hero can capture our hearts and minds if they have a flaw that makes them an interesting participant in the story, (rather than a passive observer) as well as a gift and a strong want that we understand.

       What is your character's flaw? Is it an extreme negative side of their gift?  Does it get them into trouble? Does it humanize them?  Think about the gift/flaw of some of  your favorite characters in literature!