62 Character Flaws for Creating a Well-Balanced Character
Sometimes, a character is only as strong as their weakest point. That is, their character flaws!
A solid plot is crucial to a good story, but in the end, most people care more about the characters. After all, most of the tension IN a plot has to do with how that plot affects the characters.
Often you’ll find that plot points are just a method to push the characters, wrangle them into hard situations, and force them to own up to their flaws. Plot goes hand in hand with your character’s flaws, so it’s worth your time to pick them out some good ones!
Character flaws can mess with relationships, keep the journey from going smoothly, and more. Plus it just downright makes your character more relatable and realistic. After all, your readers aren’t perfect, so they’ll appreciate watching an imperfect character accomplish great things despite their flaws!
Long story short, your characters need flaws if you want them to be realistic and well-developed. Some will have more flaws than redeeming qualities, others will be mostly perfect except for a thing or two, and others will fall somewhere in-between.
And, of course, this isn’t just for protagonists—everyone should have a handful of flaws. Like villains, of course. Although that should be an obvious one. But you do want to make sure they’re not just a bundle of flaws and nothing else. Villains can be multi-faceted, too!
The Ultimate List of 62 Character Flaws
With those variances in mind, here are some vices to give your characters. But don’t limit yourself to this list—there are plenty more out there!
- Easily angered
- Holds grudges
Four Tips for Giving your Character Flaws
1. Character flaws can also be positive traits.
A trait might be good in moderation, but considered a flaw when pushed to the extreme.
Something like “confident,” for example, can be a positive trait. It’s GOOD to be proud of yourself and confident in what you can do. But as “confident” turns in “prideful” and “prideful” turns into “arrogant”, we can see a positive quality transform into a negative one.
Another example is a character trait like “helpful.” Your character might be incredibly giving and selfless, but when it’s to a point where they ignore their own happiness, that same trait also becomes a flaw.
2. These flaws can appear in different levels of extremity.
An individual who gets irritated easily is one thing. Maybe they have a flaw of “easily set off,” and even small, unimportant things make them whine and groan and pout. That kind of reaction to being annoyed is MUCH different than someone who loses their temper and lashes out violently.
It’s the same flaw (easily set off), but with much more extreme reactions and results.
In this way, it’s also okay to have multiple characters with this same flaw. You can keep it from getting repetitive by having these flaws manifest in different extremities.
3. Character flaws will manifest in different situations.
Maybe your character is a notorious cheater when it comes to card games, but they’d never lie to someone they care about. Think about when this flaw shows up for your character, and when it doesn’t.
Also consider, are they ashamed of their flaw? Do they try to hide it around certain people (like a loved one or a boss?). Are they able to successfully clamp down on their flaw sometimes, only to have it lash out after a trigger?
4. Choose your character’s main flaws with care.
Minor flaws might not play a major role in development, so those can be chosen at random. But the big, glaring character flaws should have a more in-depth and symbiotic relationship to the plot and your character’s overall growth arc.
After all, the flaws are supposed to get in your character’s way. They’re supposed to keep her from succeeding. And what better way to keep her from succeeding than to be smack dab in the middle of the path to success?
Imagine a “fear of heights” keeping your character from their dream of climbing Mt. Everest.
Imagine a “lazy” character suddenly being thrust into a position where they have to work full-time or their family will be without food.
Imagine a “judgmental” character is assigned to work on a 3-month project with the most-hated and most-judged classmate at school.
In these scenarios, the character’s flaws make their goal that much harder to reach. The character becomes their own worst enemy!
It makes sense that well-chosen flaws end up with a direct relationship to your plot and/or your character’s overall growth arc. Read up on developing your character’s swoons and wounds to get a better idea of how that all works out.
Traits and Flaws are Only the Beginning!
This list is only to get you started! There are plenty more vices and flaws you can give your character.
And remember: flaws can also be good qualities. So if you want to expand this list even more, think of a good quality your character has and take it to an extreme level. Voila! Another character flaw. And a complex one, too, that adds a nice juicy layer to your character.
I’ve seen plenty of other posts about other character flaws and traits, so it’s worth looking around at other lists. I’ll probably update this list every now and then to add interesting ones I come across!
A well-balanced character will come alive and struggle along their path just like real people do. It can even flavor their voice and decisions, making your plot more interesting and tense as well.
We’ll get into the “how” of all that in a different article… but for now, start brainstorming which flaws would add some tension to your plot or add potential conflict to character relationships (like a character with a core value of Integrity and their best friend who shoplifts in their free time).
What kinds of flaws do you like giving to your characters? Do you try to weave them directly into the plot?