Character Flaws To Make Your Characters More Interesting

A character flaw is defined as a deficiency, imperfection, limitation or problem that affects the way characters think, feel and behave. They can be minor character quips or major hindrances that can lead to their downfall.

Martha Alderson gives examples of typical character flaws:

  • Always the victim and unable to take responsibility for actions
  • Control freak
  • Argumentative and short-tempered
  • Liar and a cheat
  • Stubborn
  • Always has to be right
  • Perfectionist
  • Procrastinator
  • Sits in judgment

The main character’s flaw establishes the protagonist’s level of emotional maturity and points to the potential for growth or transformation. Her flaw interferes with achieving her goal and riles up her emotions.


A character flaw is a coping mechanism that arises from the loss of an original state of perfection that occurred in the character’s backstory.

The character stores the emotion created by what happened in the backstory. Her flaw is designed to compensate for a perceived vulnerability, sense of insecurity, and feeling threatened. No matter how confident, every major character demonstrates lessons learned from the wound inflicted in her backstory that now is lodged in her core belief system. In reaction, she often surrenders some or all of the authority over her own life to someone or something else.

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