The idea of the ‘perfect’ person is intriguing. The perfect hair, job, family—the list goes on!
Nonetheless, reading about perfect characters is boring!
Flaws are what make a character interesting.
They help us relate more deeply to characters (because we’re all flawed, right?) and can even make characters more attractive to the reader.
Obviously, we expect our antagonists to have notable flaws, but our heroes should, as well, to make them seem more human. Developing flaws are a big part of how to make a unique character.
Flaws for characters are also key to creating the conflict that drama is made of, so you should devote lots of time and care to determine what those flaws are going to be.
To help you in your brainstorming process, here is a list of character flaws for you to consider as you work on crafting the characters that will star in your next work of fiction.
How to Make a Unique Character for Your Book
To craft a fascinating original character, you will need to create the right balance between their strengths and their flaws. A strong heroic character has positive personality traits, abilities, and goals that make us like and root for them—but they also have flaws that jeopardize their success.
Good “villains,” on the other hand, are often the inverse, possessing deep flaws and selfish aims that are then balanced by a few good characteristics or motives, so that the reader maintains some sympathy and interest in the character.
Complete List of Character Flaws
Take a look at our list of character flaws, which covers several different types of flaws for characters, to get some inspiration for your writing.
Physical Flaws ????????????
What counts as a physical flaw is often very much in the eye of the beholder. This character flaws list covers looks, injuries, abnormalities, and conditions that many would consider being physical flaws and imperfections, but your mileage may vary.
- Really terrible hygiene
- Scars from third-degree burns on face and neck
- Missing two fingers from the right hand because of work injury
- Extremely poor eyesight
- Morbidly obese
- Paraplegic due to war injury
- Hunched back
- Severe tremors in the left hand
- Amputated arm from a childhood illness
- Cystic acne all over the face
- Hairy back
- Facial warts
- A long scar across the cheek
- Several brown and rotting teeth
- A cleft palate
- One ear is substantially larger than the other
- A glass eye that is a different color than the other eye
- Bowed legs
- Thin, patchy beard with gray streaks
- Crooked nose
- Thick, black unibrow
- Red birthmark on the forehead in the shape of Alaska
- Clubbed foot
- A pronounced limp due to one leg longer than the other
- Several large, hairy moles on the back
Personality Flaws ????????????
The most interesting character flaws are usually the ones that pertain to personality. In some cases, they may be the product of genetics or upbringing, but ultimately these are traits that the reader will consider to be the character’s responsibility. This character flaws list highlights the kinds of flaws that most greatly affect the character’s attitudes and actions.
- Belittles anyone they view as intellectually inferior
- Arrogant and never admits their mistakes
- Overly obsessed with their looks
- Workaholic who doesn’t make enough time for family
- Fixated on acquiring expensive material possessions
- Thinks their jokes are hilarious (and they are definitely not)
- Tends to be very controlling of their spouse and children
- Displays gross racial prejudices
- Gets angry at the slightest provocation
- All too eager to take unnecessary risks
- Always has to win at everything
- Complains excessively about minor inconveniences
- Sexually harasses people
- Emotionally unsupportive to friends and family
- Disrespectful and insulting to subordinates
- Prone to lying all the time
- Talks over people and rarely listens
- Quick to criticize others but can’t take criticism
- Constantly cheats on their spouse
- Holds a grudge over even the smallest slights
- Tight-fisted and ungenerous despite being wealthy
- Self-righteous and judgmental
- Picks on the weakest and most vulnerable people
- Makes rash decisions with little information
- Willfully ignorant
- Makes offensive “jokes” about anyone different
- Violently threatens people who get on their nerves
- Cheats to get ahead every opportunity they get
- Acts like a suck-up to anyone with influence or power
- Behaves cruelly towards animals
- Paranoid that everyone is out to get them
- Takes advantages of others’ kindness
- Religious hypocrite who doesn’t practice what they preach
- Keeps breaking promises to loved ones
- Gullible and ready to believe anything
- Lets friends down by always being late
- Lacking in professional ethics
- Reckless driver
- Suspicious of others for no reason
- Refuses to forgive people’s mistakes
- Doesn’t think rationally
- Lazy and unhelpful
- Convinced they are always right
- Abuses drugs or alcohol
- Gets physically destructive when upset
- Behaves rudely to service and retail workers
- Financially irresponsible and in debt
- Unreasonably jealous of significant other
- Acts like a mindless airhead
- No moral compass
- Makes passive-aggressive insults
- Always believes the worst in people
- Constantly nags people
- Enjoys embarrassing others
Good Character Flaws ????????????????
Not all flaws are created equal, of course. Some character flaws are more like lovable imperfections. Technically what the character is doing may be wrong or inappropriate, but it’s often with a well-meaning motive. Or it may just be a personality trait that seems inconsequential enough that ends up being more endearing than enraging. In this character flaws list, here are some examples of good character flaws to consider:
- Pokes fun of everybody, but is an equal opportunity offender
- Tells entertaining but largely invented stories about her past
- Maxes out credit cards buying dinner and drinks for friends
- Keeps taking in stray animals despite spouse’s objections
- Tends to primp and look in the mirror too much
- Swears excessively
- Smokes, but is always trying to quit
- Flies off the handle if he sees someone bullying another person
- Drinks too much but is always the life of the party
- Tactless when sharing criticism or bad news
- Sticks nose in other people’s business out of concern
- Not very bright
- Really bad sense of direction
- Indecisive about the smallest things
- Indulges a weakness for eating really unhealthy food
- Obsesses over ex who they’re still in love with
- Has some really eccentric religious or political beliefs
- Steals from the rich, but uses it to help someone more deserving
- Has extreme social anxiety and is really nervous around people
Avoid a Flawed Publishing Process
Your characters may have some serious flaws, but your book shouldn’t! Let Gatekeeper Press help you through the many different aspects of the editing, publishing, and distribution process so that everything goes smoothly. Learn about all the services available to help you get a great finished product out into the world.