Today’s article is written by Neil Chase.
When most people think of a hero, they think of someone who seems perfect. They are strong, brave, and always know the right thing to do.
However, if everyone in your story is perfect, your audience will quickly lose interest.
That’s why it is important to write flawed characters and flawed heroes. These characters make your story more interesting and relatable. Here are some insights into why it’s important to write flawed characters and heroes, and tips on how to do so effectively.
Why flawed characters are important in literature and storytelling
A flawed character is someone who has a significant weakness, inner demons, personal failings or makes poor choices that affect their journey in a negative way. While this may seem like a simple definition, the importance of flawed characters in literature and storytelling is actually quite complex.
On a surface level, flawed characters add an element of realism to a story. They help readers empathize with the characters and understand their motivations, particularly when they make mistakes or wrong decisions.
However, flawed characters also play a role in the internal conflict of a story. By struggling with their weaknesses, they raise the stakes and force the reader to consider the consequences of their actions. In addition, flawed characters can be used to raise questions about morality and explore the gray areas of life.
Ultimately, flawed characters are essential to good storytelling because they add depth and complexity to the tale.
How flawed characters add depth, interest, and relatability to a story
A flawed character is often more relatable than a perfect one because we all have flaws. We can identify with a character who makes mistakes, has insecurities, and faces obstacles.
Flawed characters add depth and interest to a story because they are complex, and our flaws are what make us human.
A perfect character can be boring because they have no flaws or failings, and by default, their struggle is that much easier. Typically, perfect characters face external conflicts, and even those are relatively easy for them to overcome.
Flawed characters, on the other hand, tend to struggle with inner and outer conflicts, thereby compounding already difficult struggles into greater challenges. This makes for higher stakes and a more exciting story. Why root for a character who doesn’t make mistakes or have any problems or issues to overcome?
It’s the flawed characters that we want to see succeed in spite of their flaws. When a flawed character overcomes their failings, it is much more satisfying than when a perfect character succeeds.
So don’t be afraid to write flawed characters, because they are the ones that readers will want to read about!
Examples of flawed heroes in literature
There are countless flawed heroes in literature, but one example that stands out immediately is The Great Gatsby.
It’s a particularly effective example because it’s not just the protagonist, Nick Carraway, who is flawed, but the entire cast of characters. Nick is easily swayed by the other characters and mostly falls under Gatsby’s spell, particularly as he partakes in the same social ills that he initially rejects. He worships Gatsby and he loves his cousin, Daisy, even when those worlds are at odds.
Jay Gatsby is at heart an insecure man, always measuring himself with his contemporaries through wealth, rather than character. As such, his method for trying to win back the lost love of his life is through money and social standing, rather than opening his heart.
Daisy Buchanan suffers in a loveless marriage of convenience and regrets choosing wealth over love when she first rejected Gatsby years earlier. When he reappears in her life, she is torn all the more, especially as she has a child and social obligations that go with her station.
Tom Buchanan is a bigoted philanderer who flaunts his wealth, and sees his wife, Daisy, as little more than another trophy alongside all the others he’s won over the years. He’s bothered by other men cheating, but less so of himself, as he feels he’s above others.
It is because each of them gives in to their flaws over the course of the story, that it ultimately ends in tragedy, but the fact that they are flawed, to begin with, is the central reason the story is so captivating and has remained a beloved classic since it was first written in 1925.
Creating believably flawed characters that still maintain reader sympathy and engagement
Flawed characters are essential to any good story. They provide conflict and tension, and their struggles can give readers a sense of connection and empathy. However, it can be tricky to create flawed characters who are still likable and relatable.
One approach is to make sure that they have redeeming qualities. For example, a character who is selfish and manipulative might also be fiercely loyal to those she loves. Or, a character who is flawed in one area might excel in another. By giving your characters both positive and negative traits, you can ensure that they feel real and three-dimensional.
Jay Gatsby is a good example of this dichotomy. On one hand, he’s extremely driven and focused, allowing him to rise from nothing to great wealth in just a few short years. However, his negative traits are his constant need to prove himself against others, as well as his penchant for secrecy and subterfuge—even criminal enterprises—to achieve his
Additionally, it’s important to remember that even the most flawed characters are capable of growth and redemption. By charting their journey from start to finish, you can keep readers engaged while also giving them hope that change is possible.
The importance of flaws in real life and how they can make us stronger people
We all have flaws. Whether it’s a physical imperfection or a personality trait that we’re not proud of, we all have something we wish we could change about ourselves. And while it’s easy to focus on our flaws and dwell on the ways that we’re not perfect, it’s important to remember that our flaws can actually be a good thing. They can make us stronger and more resilient people.
For example, let’s say you have a fear of public speaking. This might seem like a flaw at first, but it can actually be an asset. It can motivate you to work harder and prepare more thoroughly for speeches or presentations. As a result, you’ll likely end up being a more effective speaker than someone who doesn’t have this fear.
So next time you’re feeling down about your flaws, remember that they’re what make you unique and special. Embrace them and use them to your advantage!
We need flawed characters. They make us feel better about our own shortcomings, and they make for more interesting heroes. In a world that projects at being increasingly perfect, we need people who are real and relatable. Flawed characters remind us that it’s okay to be human and to fail, as long as we recognize our flaws and try to overcome them.