10 Tips for Flawed Characters

Creating flawed characters is one of the best ways to make your novel more engaging and realistic. In this article, we discuss 10 tips for doing just that.
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No one is perfect, and that includes the characters in your novel. In order to make your story more engaging and realistic, you need to create flawed characters that your readers can relate to. In this blog post, we will discuss 10 tips for creating flawed characters that will keep your readers hooked until the very end!

[.article-cta]Check out the Negative Trait Thesaurus that contains a list of 106 negative traits to use for your characters[.article-cta]

1. Make sure your character's flaws are relatable

One of the most important things to remember when creating a flawed character is to make sure their flaws are relatable.

In order for readers to connect with your character, they need to be able to see themselves in them. Ask yourself this question: what are some of my own flaws? Once you've identified your characters' flaws, make sure they are ones that your readers can easily relate to.

For example, if your character is shy and insecure, chances are many readers will be able to identify with that. However, if your character is arrogant and self-centered, it may be harder for readers to sympathize with him or her.

2. Ensure that their character flaws add depth to their personality

Another important thing to remember is to make sure that your character's flaws add depth to their personality.

In other words, their flaws should not be one-dimensional. For example, if your character is shy, there should be more to him or her than just that one trait. Perhaps they are also intelligent and have a great sense of humor. By adding multiple layers to your characters, you will make them more complex and interesting for readers.

3. Avoid making your character flaws too over-the-top or unbelievable

While it's important to make sure your character flaws are relatable and add depth to their personality, you also want to avoid making them too over-the-top or unbelievable.

For example, if your character is afraid of heights, that's one thing. But if your character is afraid of heights and also has a fear of flying, that may be pushing it a bit too far. The same goes for personality traits. If your character is shy, there's no need to also make them meek and withdrawn.

4. Create a balance between positive and negative qualities

A good way to create a well-rounded character is to give them both positive and negative qualities.

For example, your character may be intelligent but also stubborn. They may be brave but also reckless. By giving your character a mix of both good and bad traits, you will make them more believable and interesting for readers.

It's also important to note that not all flaws are negative. In fact, many times a flaw can actually be seen as a strength. For example, if your character is highly ambitious, that could be considered a strength rather than a weakness. The key is to find the balance between the two and make sure they complement each other.

5. Use their flaws as an opportunity to showcase their strength of character

While your character's flaws may make them seem weak or vulnerable, they can also be an opportunity to showcase their strength of character.

For example, if your character is shy but still manages to stand up for themselves when it matters most, that shows courage and determination. If your character makes a mistake but takes responsibility for it and tries to learn from it, that shows growth.

In other words, don't be afraid to use your character's flaws as a way to show their positive qualities. It will make them more three-dimensional and likable for readers.

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Negative Trait Thesaurus

Angela Ackerman and Becca Puglisi
Negative Trait Thesaurus

The Negative Trait Thesaurus is a brainstorming resource written in a list format that is perfect for creating deep, flawed characters your audience will relate to. It is a fully indexed and extensive list of negative character traits–a must-have for any writer's character development toolkit.

For each trait, there are several possible manifestation options listed, along with associated behaviors and emotions. This book is an invaluable resource for writers who want to create rich, complex characters that readers can connect with on a deep level.

Positive Trait Thesaurus

Angela Ackerman and Becca Puglisi
Positive Trait Thesaurus

The Positive Trait Thesaurus is a valuable resource for character development. It provides a large selection of attributes to choose from, along with real character examples from literature, film, or television. This allows you to see how an attribute drives actions and decisions and helps you to avoid common personality pitfalls.

In addition, the book offers insight into human needs and morality, and how each determines the strengths that emerge in heroes and villains alike. Whether you’re looking to create a rounded character or simply want to add some depth to your story, The Positive Trait Thesaurus is an essential tool for any writer’s toolbox.

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Negative Trait Thesaurus

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6. Allow your characters room to grow and change

One of the best things about flawed characters is that they are allowed to grow and change.

In other words, they are not static characters. They are dynamic characters. They evolve over time and learn from their mistakes. This makes them more relatable to readers and also allows for interesting plot development–very important if you're writing flaws for your main character.

For example, if your character starts out as shy but eventually learns how to stand up for themselves, that's a great story arc. If your character begins as arrogant but eventually realizes the error of their ways, that's also a great storyline. Allowing your characters room to grow and change ensures that your story will never be boring or stale.

[.article-cta]Learn about the Hero's Journey and how it can be used for your character's arc.[.article-cta]

7. Be consistent with their flaws throughout the story

One thing to keep in mind when creating flawed characters is to be consistent with their flaws throughout the story.

In other words, don't start out by making them shy but then have them become brave in the next scene. Or make them arrogant at the beginning but humble later. If you switch up their flaws too much, it will be confusing for readers and may damage the overall quality of your story.

It's important to remember that character development should happen slowly and subtly over time. If you try to change your character's flaws too quickly, it will seem forced and unnatural. Overcoming a flaw takes a long time and may not be able to be encompassed in a single story.

8. Use their flaws to create tension and conflict

Flaws are a great way to create tension and conflict in your story.

For example, if your character is always arguing with others, that can be used as a source of conflict. If they're always making mistakes, that can also lead to tension and drama. By using their flaws to create conflict, you will keep readers engaged and interested in the story.

In addition, flawed characters make for interesting plot twists. For example, if your shy character has to give a speech in front of a large audience, that can be a dramatic scene full of suspense. If your reckless character has to take care of a small child for an afternoon, that's bound to cause some chaos. Keep readers on their toes by using interesting character flaws to create unpredictable situations.

9. Don't forget about the little things

When creating a flawed character, it's important to remember the little things that can help illustrate the character's life.

For example, if your character is always late for appointments, that's a small but significant detail. If they're always forgetting people's names, that's another small thing that can add up.

These little details may seem minor, but they can actually be quite important in making your character seem real and relatable. After all, everyone has their own quirks and imperfections. By adding these small details to your character, you'll make them more three-dimensional and lifelike.

10. Figure out a major character flaw and minor character flaws

Major character flaws are the ones that define your character and affect most of their decisions. The minor flaws are the ones that pop up every once in a while but don't have as much of an impact on the story.

For example, if your character's major flaw is that they're always late, then their minor flaws might be that they're bad at keeping track of time or they get easily sidetracked. By figuring out both a major and minor flaw, you'll have a better understanding of what makes your character tick.

A fatal flaw is a type of major flaw that can lead to the downfall of your character. For example, if your character is arrogant, they may make decisions that end up hurting themselves and others. By having a fatal flaw, you're adding an extra layer of complexity to your character arc.


Creating flawed characters can be a great way to make your story more engaging and interesting. By giving them room to grow and change, you ensure that readers will stay engaged until the very end. Be sure to use their flaws to create tension and conflict, and don't forget about the little things. Most importantly, let them make mistakes! This will add realism and depth to your character. Happy writing!

Kevin Barrett Profile picture
Kevin from StoryFlint

Hello friends! I'm Kevin, the creator of StoryFlint.

I love the science of storytelling and learning how to create compelling characters, plots, themes and worlds.

I'm here to help you organize and visualize your story to make it the best it can be!

More about me

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