Tag Archive | weak characters

What I consider before writing any story.

I’ll be presenting a workshop on creative writing at my school in about two weeks, so I came up with these things that I always look at before I start writing.

What is the goal of the character?

I don’t say plot because that implies that I know the plot. I’m finding that I typically cannot pinpoint a plot until I finish  and I can look at the whole picture. But my character needs an initial goal and a plan.

How does goal and plot differ? In Shad, one of my stories, his goal was to win in the intragalatic race. As such, he worked towards that and kept struggling to make it through the race. However, the plot actually turned out to be Shad trying to break away being a sweeper and establish himself in the real world, something I didn’t even realize until I looked at the finish product and saw that, based on where the story ended, that had to be it.

What is the ending?

I will not start writing a story until I know the ending. Period. Because either a) I’ll never learn the ending or b) it’s not a good story. Either way, I need to have a clue on the ending.

Now, sometimes for me that ending is vague. Like, I know they are going to run the aliens off of earth, but I’m not quite sure how. Sometimes it’s quite concrete, like, the story will end with Kayla comes to the new home and Shad meets her.

Character’s Point of View (POV):

That seems strange. Well, of course I’m going to tell it in the character whose story I thought of. However, when I began to systematically think about the POVs, I realized that sometimes the obvious character isn’t the best.

For example, I’m going to post a story this week where a mermaid (Avi) has to convince her sister (Nessa) to join an underground liberation movement. Instead of writing it from Avi’s POV though, so Avi keeps having to tell Nessa everything that Avi already knows, I wrote it from Nessa’s POV, which ended up making a very interesting story.

This time also makes me realize whether I really need to tell it in one or two or five people’s POVs.


This goes slightly into the POV, but something I sometimes decide later and sometimes I don’t even decide until after I pick up the story. In general, I will write in third person. However, some stories call for first.

(Then you have the annoying stories that you write that you intend for it only to be a short story and so you write it in first person only to have the characters tell you its a novel, but you don’t want to write it in first person the whole way, so you need a new way of presenting the information without rewriting the whole short story/prelude.)

Character’s personality:

I think this aspect is a fundamental part of any story. However, I have discovered through a long and tumutious road that a personality doesn’t just come usually. If it does, it is usually perfect. As such, I automatically want to have a clue about how this character acts, is she/he shy, determined, stubborn, brave? And what is the character’s weakness?

Where is the story best told?

Generally, this is obvious. However, not always. And sometimes the setting doesn’t make a difference. But it is something to think about.

I should probably mention that I don’t look at tense. Typically, I’ll write in past tense. If I happen to start writing in present, it’s by mere accident but usually because I hear the voices so well that I just write as they tell me. (No, I am not schizophrenic.)

Happy Birthday!

Doesn't it look so good?!


No, it’s not my birthday. It’s actually Always A Writer’s birthday. One year ago was when I began this blog. I started it before I knew that most writers in this day and age should have blogs and mostly because I just wanted a place to really look at and rejoice with my writing.

Since then, I have written 276 posts, and 41 pages. I’ve had 155 comments (and 444 spam comments).

Last January, I had an average of 8 viewers a month. Last month (November), we had an average of 19 viewers a month. 4,164 people have viewed parts of this website, and my busy day was March 31st, with a total of 68 people.

Maybe it’s not as busy as some people’s blogs, but I’m pretty satisfied. I’m just hoping that this continues to grow.

So, instead of me rambling on about how difficult it is to rewrite a story (I will do that though. Soon. Since I’m activity doing it right now.), I think that I will give some awards to some posts.

please know the following terms: nouns, verbs, adjectives, adverbs, conjunctions, sentences:

This is the most popular post by far, with a total of 679 views. I honestly don’t think a day goes by when someone doesn’t find it via google or something.

The second most common page is on Character Weakness. Sometimes just finding a quick look at possible weakness helps build a character.

A few other of my more favorite posts include All Writers Have Some Mental Illness,  How to be a Writer in 5 [Marginally] Easy Steps, and Six Tips on the Art of Killing Characters. The mental illness one is just plain humorous, the how to be a writer one is just helpful, and the art of killing characters is one of the more popular one again.

There are many, many other popular posts and there are just as many posts that got almost nothing, and I still thought would be helpful. Such as Building Religions (Only 9 views since April.), Cultural differences in the MidWest (5 since last December.) The Beneifit of Not Writing Often and even One Sentence Summaries (4 since October 25th)

So that’s about a summary of this past year. Hopefully, next year will be even better (I keep hoping to get Freshly Pressed to be plain.), I’ll learn more, and maybe I’ll even start doing what would be best for me to do. (Such as write synopses.)

Anything you want to see change here?

(And no, I’m not being all stalkerish with the stats. WordPress gives them to me, and I find it helpful to know what people want.)

Character Strengths

My school has this curriculum  about how everyone has individual strengths and we need to all develop them to make ourselves a better person. Although I disagree with the presentation how they do it, using these 34 strengths can be useful in writing.

We all know that characters need weaknesses.  However, sometimes characters get so packed full of weaknesses that they fail to have any strengths. Characters, just like people, need a balance of everything. As such, here is a list of strengths as taught by my school. You can find the website here, if you are more interested, although the website does not reflect any of my opinions. (It actually looks like they’re selling something, but I just took the list from the site.)


Achiever® People strong in the Achiever theme have a great deal of stamina and work hard. They take great satisfaction from being busy and productive.
Activator® People strong in the Activator theme can make things happen by turning thoughts into action. They are often impatient.
Adaptability® People strong in the Adaptability theme prefer to “go with the flow.” They tend to be “now” people who take things as they come and discover the future one day at a time.
Analytical® People strong in the Analytical theme search for reasons and causes. They have the ability to think about all the factors that might affect a situation.
ArrangerTM People strong in the Arranger theme can organize, but they also have a flexibility that complements this ability. They like to figure out how all of the pieces and resources can be arranged for maximum productivity.
Belief® People strong in the Belief theme have certain core values that are unchanging. Out of these values emerges a defined purpose for their life.
Command® People strong in the Command theme have presence. They can take control of a situation and make decisions.
Communication® People strong in the Communication theme generally find it easy to put their thoughts into words. They are good conversationalists and presenters.
Competition® People strong in the Competition theme measure their progress against the performance of others. They strive to win first place and revel in contests.
Connectedness® People strong in the Connectedness theme have faith in the links between all things. They believe there are few coincidences and that almost every event has a reason.
Consistency® People strong in the Fairness theme are keenly aware of the need to treat people the same. They try to treat everyone in the world fairly by setting up clear rules and adhering to them.
Context® People strong in the Context theme enjoy thinking about the past. They understand the present by researching its history.
Deliberative® People strong in the Deliberative theme are best described by the serious care they take in making decisions or choices. They anticipate the obstacles.
Developer® People strong in the Developer theme recognize and cultivate the potential in others. They spot the signs of each small improvement and derive satisfaction from these improvements.
DisciplineTM People strong in the Discipline theme enjoy routine and structure. Their world is best described by the order they create.
Fairness TM / EmpathyTM People strong in the Empathy theme can sense the feelings of other people by imagining themselves in others’ lives or others’ situations.
FocusTM People strong in the Focus theme can take a direction, follow through, and make the corrections necessary to stay on track. They prioritize, then act.
Futuristic® People strong in the Futuristic theme are inspired by the future and what could be. They inspire others with their visions of the future.
Harmony® People strong in the Harmony theme look for consensus. They don’t enjoy conflict; rather, they seek areas of agreement.
Ideation® People strong in the Ideation theme are fascinated by ideas. They are able to find connections between seemingly disparate phenomena.
Inclusiveness® / Includer® People strong in the Inclusiveness theme are accepting of others. They show awareness of those who feel left out, and make an effort to include them.
Individualization® People strong in the Individualization theme are intrigued with the unique qualities of each person. They have a gift for figuring out how people who are different can work together productively.
Input® People strong in the Input theme have a craving to know more. Often they like to collect and archive all kinds of information.
Intellection® People strong in the Intellection theme are characterized by their intellectual activity. They are introspective and appreciate intellectual discussions.
Learner® People strong in the Learner theme have a great desire to learn and want to continuously improve. In particular, the process of learning, rather than the outcome, excites them.
Maximizer® People strong in the Maximizer theme focus on strengths as a way to stimulate personal and group excellence. They seek to transform something strong into something superb.
Positivity® People strong in the Positivity theme have an enthusiasm that is contagious. They are upbeat and can get others excited about what they are going to do.
Relator® People who are strong in the Relator theme enjoy close relationships with others. They find deep satisfaction in working hard with friends to achieve a goal.
Responsibility® People strong in the Responsibility theme take psychological ownership of what they say they will do. They are committed to stable values such as honesty and loyalty.
Restorative® People strong in the Restorative theme are adept at dealing with problems. They are good at figuring out what is wrong and resolving it.
Self-Assurance® People strong in the Self-assurance theme feel confident in their ability to manage their own lives. They possess an inner compass that gives them confidence that their decisions are right.
Significance® People strong in the Significance theme want to be very important in the eyes of others. They are independent and want to be recognized.
StrategicTM People strong in the Strategic theme create alternative ways to proceed. Faced with any given scenario, they can quickly spot the relevant patterns and issues.
Woo® People strong in the Woo theme love the challenge of meeting new people and winning them over. They derive satisfaction from breaking the ice and making a connection with another person.

If you care, mine are Responsibility, Ideation, Learner and Individualism.

It’s always an uphill battle.

What is the hardest part for you in writing stories?

The Motivation to Kill

Here’s an article I found a while ago about what motivates terrorists to kill. Since it wasn’t that easy to find, thought it might be an interesting read, especially if you’re planning on having a terrorist as a character in a story sometime soon.

more concerning characters

Characters  are, in many ways , the backbone of stories. If you can write good characters and maintain good tension, you will probably create a very captivating story.

However, creating good characters is a challenge. I call them 3-Dimensional characters, as I’m sure many other people do. 3D characters is what every author should strive for, although unfortunately, some published authors do notattain that.

So, how do you do it? One of the easiest and possibly the most often overlooked thing is by creating a background. It’s one thing to say that you’re going to have a characters that was raised by pirates and is now an assassin. But how did she flip over? How did being raised by pirates effect her? Were the pirates nice? Has she had any non-questionable associations? How did that relationship end? These questions are what makes a character a good character.

Another way to know that we have a good character is if the character is different and you can answer questions about the character to makes sense. For example, I’m asked what would Shad (from my novel) do in this situation. He sees someone get hit by a car; they’re still alive but obviously badly injured. No one else is nearby to help. What does he do? He would rush in there and help, but he’d probably forget about things like calling an ambulance, because he is more used to be in a society where you help each other as you would want to be and you have to do it yourself if you want it done. My reaction would be more along the lines of call for help, then go see if I can do something. (I might be in nursing school, but the idea that I’m the one who has to step in soon if there is an accident scares me.)

So, to help you find thee questions and more develop your characters, I have found these links. They were made more for roleplayers but they’ll help us writers too.

365 questions for roleplayers and writers is exactly that.  I will warn you however that it is a PDF, so although you should be able to view it, it might make acrobat open suddenly. (I never liked viewing PDFs from the web until I got a preview function in safari.)

Character Questions has a few less questions, but more in categories. So if you wanted to focus on the character’s family, you can do that easily. However, I don’t particularly like the website, just to warn you.

So see what you discover about your characters now.

Question of the Week: April 12th

Although it failed through last week, and I am way too tired to write response, (I’ll probably write that as a blog post soon.), I’m not going to summarize last week’s question. I am, however, going to keep posting this in hopes that someday, people will decide to start answering.

However, I was thinking about this blog recently and I realized that I generally write, not for the good, active writers, but for the new writers. Almost everything I post I aim towards heping new writers become better new writers. Or people at least my equal, who probably don’t have the answers to the exact questions I’m asking.

With that in mind, I think the question of the week has to be reevaluated to meet my audience. So here’s this week’s question:

What is the best character weakness you have come across in a book and what book?

Now, you might be sitting at your computer screen staring at me weird thinking, “Abigail, why on earth would you be asking that question? What good does this have to do with helping me write?”

Several ways actually.

1. It’s to make you analyize what you read. The only way to get better at writing is to figure out what you like (and don’t like) about a certain book and more or less put them into your writing.

2. It’s a matter of sharing. I probably haven’t read all your books have read and you haven’t read all the book that I’ve read. If we share what we have seen in stories, that might give us better ideas what to put in ours.

A general idea out there is that there is nothing original among writers. It is now you take what is unoriginal and make it original that is interesting. I’m sure that you can find something from every single book out there in my stories, but that doesn’t mean that they aren’t mine still.  (If you want further clarification as to why that isn’t stealing, I can explain further.)

3. Because, in all honest, my little wordpress app is telling me that a lot of people are looking up character weaknesses via google searches. So obviously, this is a common enough question that people have that it is worth asking.

So, answers are due by Saturday night Central US time. (Which I think is -7 GMP or so.) Will credit where credit is due.

character weaknesses

So, I’ve mentioned before that characters need weaknesses or flaws in order to make them three-dimensional and believable. So, I did a quick search and that got me thinking about what could be on a list of character flaws and I’ll try to give them pretty much as a list form here.

Understand two things about giving characters weaknesses. One is that characters generally only have one major weakness. So don’t give the character hundreds of weaknesses. Two is that a weakness isn’t always a weakness. It’s just a problem that will cause the characters a headache.

The first part of this list comes from a message board with editing and my commentary.

Get extremely angry when they’re provoked, maybe to the point of violence.

Are opinionated when it comes to things they care about, and don’t like to be corrected.

My grandma is like that. If she thinks something is X, it is X, even if you can give ten reasons why it is Y. If you don’t agree with her that Y is X, then she’ll get mad at you.

are too trusting or idealistic.

are overprotective of their loved ones.

care so much about people in general, including their friends, sometimes to the point of hurting themselves.

are hyperactive and/or easily distracted

Flirt a lot without actually being a slut.

Poor health.

This has a whole range of possibilities, including a physical, visible problem (blind, deaf, crippled, paralyzed), an invisible physical problem (diabetes, a clotting problem, any hormone deficiently, any autoimmune disease) or a nonphysical problem (such as a mental illness.)

Are quiet and reserved. Introverts are generally shy, and find it difficult to talk with strangers.

I know for a fact when I worked for my college calling people for donations, it zapped my strength because I had to keep talking with people and I am majorly introverted.

Are scared of anything.

Some of these, taken to an extreme, can be very bad, like

Can’t be alone.

Can’t stop talking (or can but find it very difficult.)

Can’t stand silence. (imagine a spy with that).

Are incredibly practical or logical about anything.

My brother is like this, but he’ll also suddenly crack a joke so he can be rather humorous. But with him is all in the timing. That’s just another thing you wouldn’t expect with people.

Are passive / don’t express much emotion.

An incredible amount of guilt that motivates them to keep going.

Doesn’t want to be hurt, at all.

Doesn’t trust people in general.


This can be something along the lines of always hoarding money and always investing in something to grain more money, like  a workaholic, or it could be  something like where they don’t spend money, like Scrooge in Christmas Carol. A minor form of Scrooge is kinda like me, where I probably should buy something, but I don’t really need it, so I’ll get by with what I have and improvise.

Doesn’t care about people’s emotions or people in general.

General corruption.

Addictions (whether alcohol, gambling, drugs, adrenaline, whatever)

Tires easily.

Very emotional


Too intelligent.

This sounds just plain weird, however, look at it this way. If someone is really smart and keeps talking over your head, then everything they say is as good as gibberish and you either need to struggle through understanding it, all the while this person is getting frustrated at your “stupid” questions for a “simple” concept, or you would need a translator, who understands it but can bring it down to your level.

Doesn’t ask; just does. the foot in mouth kind of person.

Focused on self.


This can be about anything, from not doing a good enough job, to always being wrong.


Doesn’t notice the details.

It does a lot of good to have a complicated plan but forgot all the details about how many guards there are or whatnot.

Doesn’t explain what he/she is thinking or doesn’t do it well. (And then of course gets frustrated when other parson doesn’t understand.)

Allergic to… something. Take your pick. This could be interesting though.

So, there’s the beginning of my list. I probably should arrange it better although I’m not fully sure how. Anyone else know of anything really good to add so we can get a master reference list going here?

more on creating good characters

After skimming a bunch of writing books, I shall share a few tips I found in them, one of them being that an editing book written in bullet form would be nice.

(Maybe the first half as bullets, like, when starting a sentence with an -ing verb, make sure that the two verbs can be done simultaneously. Incorrect: Tying his shoes, he ran down the stairs. Correct: Whistling Yankee Doodle, he pranced through the lobby. Then, See page 302 for details. Perfect editing book in my opinion.)

Some of these I’ve surprisingly already said, now that I’ve thought about it. You can look at my post last week about the five parts to any character. Obviously, this is a little different but I think this list is better. The other list, however, has some parts that shouldn’t be forgotten.

These came from the books Creating Characters : How to Build Story People and Manuscript Makeover. Both of those books looked rather decent actually.

Anyway, here we go with the character details.

1. Characters need strengths. All characters need something that they can do pretty well, because everyone has some kind of strength, even if that strength might be being a jack of all trades.

2. Characters need weaknesses. When was the last time you ran into someone who didn’t have a problem or flaw, and not the physical kind of flaw either? I’d like to get a list of weaknesses that people notice going, so maybe I’ll do that soon. Please recommend one if you know.

3. Characters need motivation. Why do they do what they do? What pushes them to succeed?

4. Characters need backstory. What haunts them from their past? This is a really fun one for me, although I have to make sure not to kill too many people. [insert evil grin here.].

5. Don’t overload the characters. In other words, one strength does not make up for seven weaknesses. It’ll look too fake.

6. Spice them up. This meaning you add uniqueness to your character. Not that I’m trying to say anything about myself, but I am probably a perfect example of this. I wear long, full skirts, have my long hair somewhat covered, and then roam the science fiction aisles looking for books to read and can type a hundred words a minute on my laptop. Not two things you would think go together.

I think those things would be enough to make any character pretty decent in most any book.

Also, for anyone who cares, this is my one hundredth post on this blog.

five parts of any character

I think characters are one of the key parts of any story. One of the largest problems I think that new writers face is having good, solid, 3D characters. As such, here are some recommendations that might help anyone move in that direction.

Keep in mind however that this isn’t just for the hero of the story. This list applies just as much to the villain as the hero, if not more so, because villains are harder to understand. It’s easy to understand why someone would want to save the world from being taken over but a lot harder to convince the reader why the world is being taken over in the first place.

1. Appearance. This is more of a technicality than a mandate, but having a good clue about what your character looks like will save you a lot of headache in the end, when you start editing and find that on page one, she has brown eyes, page five blue/green eyes, page seven brown eyes again and then on page fifteen she has the gray, stormy eyes that melt the heart of her boyfriend or whatever.

2. Interests. In general, what does he/she like? This can play into what they do what they do but sometimes it might just be an aspect of what they miss now that his/her life has been ruined by the author. Everyone likes doing something, even if it is just checking facebook and playing farmville.

3. love. I know, you’re not writing a love story. and since I myself have sworn off love stories this seems an ironic one to include. However, I’m not just talking about boyfriend/girlfriend kind of love. I’m talking about maybe the relationship that the said character has with his/her parents. Or maybe it’s a sibling. This can be a powerful motivator both to do things and to not do things. But having a brother that you haven’t heard about until page 90 being kidnapped and the hero decides, “Oh, you know, I think I’ll turn myself into the bad guy just because he’s such a great brother,” seems a lot weaker than a brother exchange when the kidnapped brother has been a support, someone who’s been sending him money, and someone who hid him from the police on page 30.  Know who your character cares about and, if needed, why (or why not.).

4. Motivation. Take note: this is a big one for the villain. However, almost everyone has motivation to do something. Thing about yourself. Why do you go to work in the morning? Having a character that gets swept along willy-nilly seems weak and like they are pathetic. Now, maybe that is an attribute you want in a character because you’ll eventually work it out of him/her, but be on guard for it. Know why your character does what they do.

5. Weakness. What can’t they do? Not everyone, or very few people at least, are perfect in everything they do. And what I am discovering very quickly is that everything takes lots and lots of practice. It’s very easy to create perfect characters that don’t ever have a problem but everyone has a problem. Everyone either gets annoyed, frustrated, angry or weak-kneed. Try to have a clue about what that is before writing, so you don’t have to edit it back in later.