So why flawed characters?

There seems to be a bit of a pattern forming in my writing where all my characters are thieves or some kind of assassin.

Hmmmm…so what does that say about me?

I’m developing a strange fascination with people or characters who, for what ever reason, have issues. Gone are the cardboard cut outs of good and bad. I’m much more interested in what’s really going on inside. Why do people hurt others and what makes someone break the law?

Flawed characters are so much more interesting, don’t you think! Emotionally they’re pulled in different directions; what is the right decision for one, is totally unacceptable for another. That’s what makes people, and ultimately characters in a book or film so compelling.

For that reason, I’ve taken to studying psychology. It should be an interesting journey. Not only will I be able to read into people’s behaviour and use elements for my writing, but I will probably learn something about myself along the way.

Scary thought, eh!!!

So what inspires us writers when creating characters?  For me it’s a combination of past experience, observation and psychology. For others, it can be something completely different.   What about you? Are you a writer or a reader who is drawn in by characters? Do they matter more than the plot when it comes to sticking with a story or particular book? Feel free to have your say!

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Categories: About Writing, characters, Reclusive Ramblings | Tags: , , , , , , , | 9 Comments

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9 thoughts on “So why flawed characters?

  1. mlfables

    I think most of the characters I write about are a quirky version of me (yep, even the male characters).

    Its like I highlight a particular area of my psyche, expand it and then pad it out with surreal plot lines.

    I am particularly drawn in by characters who have a strong will or ‘strength of character’, in that they don’t change their core values with every other chapter, despite the crazyness happening around them.

    Even if that character has flawed values, you end up admiring their tenacity (that is why I like characters like the lead in the show Dexter, or Walt in Breaking Bad, or Rachel in Kim Harrisons The Hollows book series).

    • Definitely! You can’t help but put something of yourself into a character, no matter how different they seem on the surface. We’re all flawed at the end of the day. Strong characters are likeable because of their inner strength, no matter how messed up. For me, the best characters show an element of growth throughout the story; they challenge inner values or flaws, sometimes changing for the better. Strength comes in many forms, and that’s what makes people so interesting. Thanks so much for commenting. 🙂

  2. A character without flaws is not much of a character. Quite boring actually.

  3. I am absolutely a character girl. I am drawn to flawed characters as well. I am glad you’re taking psychology to aid in your writing because I would LOVE to do this as well – when money permits. Hopefully next year. I am sure you will find the courses very, very helpful in formulating complex characters. Keep us posted!

  4. Agreed. Flawed characters are the most interesting. Gone are the days of good and bad. I like the gray!

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