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Maureen Kauzlarich

Children's Author

How to Use Character Weaknesses

Image by JenDigitalArt from Pixabay 

We all know about characters’ strengths, but how do we use their weaknesses to our advantage to make a story stronger?

 

Weakness as a Resolution

Show the weakness at the beginning of the story and then show the same weakness toward the end. The weakness can resolve a conflict or problem. This proves that some things we view as weaknesses can be strengths in certain situations. Classic example: a guy who is too scared to talk to women but is a good person. In the end, the girl falls in love with both the nervous guy and the good doer.

Realistic

Characters who are too perfect don’t make interesting people and are not believable. Giving characters weaknesses makes them more relatable and likable. Readers can put themselves in their shoes and root for them.

Easily Fooled

Stronger characters, whether foe or friend, won’t think anything of the character who has a weakness and can easily get fooled when the time comes. For example, when Ursula took Ariel’s voice in The Little Mermaid she took her greatest strength and turned it into her worst weakness. In the end, she was fooled by Ariel's other strengths and thought the weakness would hold her back. Instead, it brought her plenty of friends that wanted to help get her lovely voice back.

What Others See

What others see as weaknesses another culture or group may think of as strengths. Think of an alien that wants somebody who has a personality trait that others may view as different. Somebody who is always getting into trouble may not fit into regular society, but they may excel in a particular group. It's all in the eye of the beholder.

Good Pairing

The weakness may pair well with other characters’ weaknesses or strengths. This can give a comedic effect like in the movie Hitch or the cartoon show Tom and Jerry. Think in opposites. 

End Goal

A character who wants to improve their weakness may make this goal a central point for the entire story. Characters should always work toward something or overcome challenges. A goal for the character to achieve by the end of their story is another way to add weaknesses into yours.

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