Do characters need flaws?

Question: In the book I'm currently planning I have some angel characters. I would like to know if I have to create minor or major flaws or any at all.


Answer: I think it would be pretty difficult to create a main character who is flawless. It's hard for readers to relate to flawless characters. They seem so unlike us.

Flawless people also seem so unlike the people we encounter in the world.

You sometimes come across Guardian characters who seem nearly perfect, but even they have tiny flaws. Obi wan Kenobi has a mild dislike of technology. Dumbledore has certain ambitions he isn't always able to hold in check. Gandalf... well he knows so much he sometimes forgets what he knows.

Your challenge, I suspect, with angelic characters is that people expect them to be morally perfect. But do they have to be perfect in every other way? Do they have to be all-powerful?

It's actually an old philosophical dilemma: if the universe contains a race of perfect, all-powerful entities (or even one), why does everything seem so imperfect?

Or, to put it another way, if there were a source of perfection in the universe, there would be no problems. Yet, stories are about problems. They are about situations that are less than perfect, and about less-than-perfect people trying to figure out how to cope. If there's no problem, there's no story.

So I think your angelic characters must at least have some limitations. If they are all-wise, all-knowing, and entirely benevolent, then perhaps their power is limited. If they are all-powerful, then there must be flaws in their characters. And that means they have challenges, frustrations, and the capacity for failure.

Angels or gods in literature and mythology always seem to be possessed of human-like faults, no matter how powerful they are. Otherwise, their stories would make for dull reading.

Click here to post comments

Join in and submit your own question/topic! It's easy to do. How? Simply click here to return to Character Invite.


 Step-by-Step Novel Planning Workbook


NEW! Make Money Writing Nonfiction Articles


"I've read more than fifty books on writing, writing novels, etc., but your website has the most useful and practical guidance. Now that I understand how a novel is structured, I will rewrite mine, confident that it will be a more interesting novel." - Lloyd Edwards



"Thanks to your "Create a Plot Outline in 8 Easy Steps," I was able to take a story that I simply just fooled around with and went willy nilly all over, into a clearly defined, intriguing battle where two characters fight to keep their relationship intact, and try to find a balance in control of themselves and their lives. Thanks to you, I'm not ashamed of the poor organization of my writing." - Nommanic Ragus

"I am so glad I found your site. It has helped me in so many ways, and has given me more confidence about myself and my work. Thank you for making this valuable resource, for me and my fellow writers. Perhaps you'll hear about me someday...I'll owe it to you." - Ruth, Milton, U.S.A.

"I never knew what to do with all the characters in my head, but since discovering Dramatica I am writing again in my spare time. Thank you for making this available. Yes, it is a bit complex, and it does take time, but I love it because it works." - Colin Shoeman

"I came across your website by chance. It is a plethora of knowledge, written in a simplistic way to help aspiring writers. I truly appreciate all of the information you have provided to help me successfully (relative term) write my novel. Thank you very much!" - Leo T. Rollins

"I can honestly say that this is the first website that is really helpful. You manage to answer complex questions in relatively short articles and with really intelligent answers. Thank you for taking the time to write these articles and sharing them so generously." - Chrystelle Nash

"...had no idea that a simple click would give me such a wealth of valuable information. The site not only offered extremely clear and helpful instructions but was a very enjoyable read as well. The education from your wonderful site has made me a better writer and your words have inspired me to get back to work on my novel. I wish to give you a heartfelt thanks for How to Write a Book Now, sir." -- Mike Chiero