While working on one of my team member’s manuscripts, we discussed teasing out some more character flaws in her main group of characters to make them more well-rounded. All of them are very good people who have great personalities, but none of them have a dark side or incredibly obvious character flaws that come into play.
Flawed characters make me so very happy. As I tell my CP’s, “Perfection is irritating and boring. Flaws are what make you interesting.”
To accomplish this with my team member’s MS, I asked her to make a few lists for me.
1) For each character, make a short list of minor character flaws already in place that we could play up and showcase. Even something as little as a pet peeve can be played up to be an interesting flaw. Character flaws can also come from good attributes like loyalty.
For example: Loyalty — Dee is Reid’s sister, so Dee is very protective of and loyal to Reid. Sometimes she overdoes it and gets too overbearing and smothers Reid.
2) Brainstorm a sample scenario where something could happen to trigger/showcase that flaw.
For example: Kay makes a disparaging comment about Reid, so Dee does her sisterly duty by punching Kay.
3) Find places in the dialogue where they can reveal their flaws casually or have them do an action that suggests it instead of writing a huge block of exposition.
Tell — Dee had never liked Kay. Ever since they’d met five years before, Kay had taken every opportunity to pick on Dee’s brother, Reid. It was time to show her that she couldn’t pick on Reid anymore. Not if Dee had anything to say about it.
Show — Dee rolled her eyes and punched Kay’s shoulder. “Get off his case for once.”
Fewer words. WAY more impact. SHOW. DON’T TELL. I can’t emphasize this enough. Cut them words. Burn them with fire.
And if you haven’t watched Episode 1 of Firefly yet, do it. Don’t ask questions.