When Characters Show Their Weakness

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Character’s strengths and weaknesses influence plot, character relationships and how well we like a character. Before you decide on these, think about how these characteristics will ripple through the story.

Character Strengths and Weaknesses

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  1. Inherited or Acquired?Are your character’s strengths and weaknesses inherited or acquired? If inherited, they may be accepted easily by the character, or may be sources of great aggravation: the Prince is often irritated to BE the Prince and wants to see what a normal life would be like.

    If acquired, strengths may come at great sacrifice and struggle. Weaknesses may result from great tragedies. Either way, understanding the source of the strength/weakness can help you motivate your character and put him/her into motion.

  2. Distinguish from other characters
    This is one of the options for making your character memorable. Do you remember the brother in From the Mixed Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler? Jamie cheat at card games. That’s why I remember him.
  3. Weakness–source of conflict, or way to solve conflict
    When you present your character with events that require him/her to do something at which s/he is weak, then it’s a source of conflict. On the contrary, weaknesses can sometimes be a way to solve conflict–at least temporarily. Many parents react to a child’s temper tantrum by giving in to the child’s demands. In the short run, the conflict is solved, even while it’s made worse in the long run.
  4. Strength–relieves conflict, or way to solve conflict
    When you present your character with events that require him/her to do something at which s/he is strong, then–well, where’s the conflict? On the other hand, sometimes, an unexpected or previously untapped strength can arise to solve a conflict. Just be sure you’re set it up.
  5. Use a weakness to solve the final plot problem
    Resolving conflict because you’re strong will evoke the weakest emotion. The strongest emotion is evoked when a character faces opposition and must rise above his/her weakness to do something anyway.

Think carefully about a character’s weaknesses and strengths, because it has great impact on plotting.

Read more of 15 Days to a Stronger Character.

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