Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Identifying Your Characters' Weaknesses

by Stephanie Morrill

Last Thursday, I posted a list of character strengths, which launched a very interesting discussion in the comments section about our main characters' personalities. I had a request to make a list for character weaknesses as well, which I did, but as many writers pointed out last Thursday, strengths can sometimes become weaknesses.

You can add "to a fault" to the end of most of the character strength's that I listed. A character can be forgiving to a fault, loyal to a fault, or easygoing to a fault. And many strengths can morph if not kept in check - hardworking can turn into obsessive. Courageous can turn to reckless. Protective can turn to overbearing.

Here is a list of other character weaknesses I've come up with:


Absent-minded
Antisocial
Bossy
Careless
Childish
Cocky
Cold
Controlling
Cutthroat
Dumb
Fake
Indecisive
Irresponsible
Lazy
Liar/dishonest/flatterer
Naïve
Nosy
Oblivious
Obsessive
Overbearing
Push-over
Pushy
Reckless
Rigid
Self-involved
Showy
Skittish
Stubborn
Timid
Too concerned with the opinions of others
Weak

What three characteristics apply to your main character? And do you have a time in your story where their weaknesses somehow save them from something?

I shared last Thursday that my main character, Ellie, is hardworking, intelligent, and reflective. She's also too concerned with the opinions of others, dishonest, and timid.

33 comments:

  1. Beth is pushy, impatient, and (not on the list) a neat freak. XD Ryu is a liiiitle bit childish, too concerned with other opinions, and disorganized. XD

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    Replies
    1. They sound like a very interesting combination!

      Neat freak is a good addition! I probably forgot to put it on there because I have some neat freak tendencies myself :)

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    2. But you wouldn't think so to see my house at the moment!

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  2. My character is
    Antisocial
    Stubborn
    Cocky

    Thanks Stephanie! =)

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    Replies
    1. Ooh, I really like the mix of antisocial and cocky. Very nice!

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  3. My character is...
    Reckless
    Stubborn
    Showy
    Sort of dishonest (She's honest when she can be, but dishonest if it'll help people)
    A know it all
    and tends to refuse to give people second chances (But initially is very trusting)

    She has a lot of faults but she also gets a lot of growth through the story.

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  4. Hmm, Willow is...obsessive, stubborn, and most of the time, pretty bossy. Oh, and like Rachel Leila said, tends to refuse to give people second chances. Her dad left when she was little and her brother died, so she's kind of given up on guys.

    Piper♥

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  5. My MC's biggest weaknesses are insecurity and jealousy and she's a push over. You could also say that she's controlling and too concerned with the opinions of others.

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  6. Nice lists! An easy way to compare your characters' attributes. It certainly sheds some light on aspects of character relationships that I hadn't considered yet. Much thanks, these are very helpful!

    Interesting coincidence... Ellie's strengths and weaknesses are the same three I would pick for myself! Creepy... ;D

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    Replies
    1. Oh, how funny! You're the real life Ellie :)

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  7. Alora's weaknesses are that she is depressed at times yet stubborn. A lot of sad things happen to her in my WIP and she tends to keep going no matter what (hence the stubborn) but also is very sad inside, she just does not show it. (hence depressed at times)

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  8. Marietta is superficial (had to add one to your list!), unforgiving (wait, was that one there either? LOL), and dishonest. Born, interestingly, of her super-power--she has a perfect memory. And says that with all those memories forever crowding her head, it made her just want to live in the moment. ;-)

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  9. My MC is vain, oblivious, and self-involved. She is also cheerful to a fault. Like if she feels like something is going to ruin her happiness she just ignores it and pretends it isn't there. Which causes problems for her... thanks for posting these lists! I think my MC is okay but I have some faultless and strengthless secondary characters I need to figure out!

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  10. This is tough. I'll say indecisive, timid, and naive.

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  11. Bossy, cocky, and cold, in alphabetical order :) Also controlling, overbearing, pushy, reckless (sometimes), and stubborn. There are several others I'm sure........ Though as the book passes my MC gets less cocky, cold, and pushy.

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  12. My MC would be naive, timid, but stubborn. Stubbornness definitely helped her with making one of her decisions. Well, I've enjoyed working out my MC's weaknesses and faults. I'll have to go and do this with some of my other characters!

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  13. Sadly, my main character has many of those flaws...but if I had to pick three, I would say that she's naive, reckless, and violent. I know the last one isn't on the list but well...it really fits her. And it definitely is a weakness.

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  14. Avery plans ahead obsessively, doesn't trust anyone (except Oliver), and is loyal to a fault. Oliver is reckless, far too trusting, and can be oblivious. I like giving them opposite strengths and weaknesses because they're best friends. Also, my antagonist shares the same weaknesses as Avery, but flips them into strengths. I'm playing with how their places in society make this possible, and it's kind of fun. Character development is one of my favorite parts of writing. Thanks for the post!

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  15. Milo is cold, too concerned with the opinion of others, and weak. (Well, he acts strong, but won't admit to himself that inside, he's pretty emotionally weak.)

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  16. My character is rigid, obsessive and (almost) cold. She's a tough one, but then I gave her a tough setting (mean me). She's also controlling. So, naturally, the entire book is about her world spinning out of her control. ;)

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  17. Dem (my MC) is cocky, rigid, and stubborn. Coincidentally, I was writing a scene this morning where his weaknesses helped him. He was captured, and so I think that if he'd been less strong-willed, he would have given up, and he wouldn't have as much of my gallows humor and sarcasm (and that couldn't happen).

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  18. My MC is stubborn, naive, and absent-minded. However, by the end of the book some of her naivety has worn off.

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  19. One of my MCs is naive and self-involved.
    My other MC is self-reliant and won't trust anyone to be there for her (due to the death of her little sister and her mother leaving). She's also sarcastic (which can get her into trouble so that's why I consider it a weakness on ocassion).

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  20. I'd have to say my MC is bossy, indecisive, and stubborn. Stubborn can be good and bad, though, and it does end up helping her out. :)

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  21. My MC is timid, nosy about anything that may remotely have to do with him and often antisocial. He also doesn't trust very easily, and is very suspicious.

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  22. Julius is absentminded, antisocial and this wasn't on the list but emotional.
    Layla.

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  23. Great list! Cassia is timid, too concerned with the opinion of others and antisocial. The last with good reason though. She hasn't been able to use these weaknesses for saving herself or someone else. Yet. That is a good thought though, using a weakness to save them. In fact I might have an idea now... :P Sierra
    Keep growing beautiful!

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  24. Hmmm Nira is stubborn, does things without thinking and short tempered.
    Thanks for the great post Stephanie!

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  25. Tasha is naive, oblivious, and flaky.

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  26. My main character Max is oblivious and childish at times. He can also be very nosy in which he's attained from his father.

    (MJ)

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  27. Antisocial
    Blunt
    Paranoid
    Uneducated
    I'd say those are pretty good

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Disagreement is welcome. Rudeness is not. Please be considerate of each other!