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31 Days of NaNoPrepMo: Day 20

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31-Days-of-NaNoPrepMo-by-Katrina-OstranderDay 20: What character traits or flaws will get in the way of your protagonist achieving their goals?

Your Protagonist. We’ve gone over your character’s strengths, but what sorts of characteristics are actively or passively sabotaging their efforts? Consider also at this stage the ratio of strengths to weaknesses at the outset of the novel vs. halfway through or at the end. Such weaknesses are often defining characteristics that make the character who they are and sympathetic to the audience. To brainstorm ways to make your protagonist relatable, ask yourself what sorts of things we all struggle with at one point or another in our lives. How the protagonist deals with these drawbacks will also define a lot about their personality: do they smile and make the best of their situation, do they pretend their flaws don’t exist, or do they look for a scapegoat?

Action Plan: Just like we did for the character’s strengths, compile a list of qualities that will hamper the protagonist in achieving their goals. If you need help coming up with some, here is a list of common character flaws. For each trait or flaw, consider whether your protagonist was born with it or learned the behavior as they grew up. Consider also how those weaknesses will reveal themselves in the prose, and how the plot highlights or exacerbates them. Again, are the flaws things you’ll need to foreshadow? Are any things that your protagonist will need to actively address or be cured of before they can achieve their goals?

Additional Reading: “Character Flaw Index” from TVTropes, “On Giving Your Characters Flaws & Weaknesses” from SpringHole“Writing the Perfect Flaw” from WritinGeekery

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