Your end is only as good as your beginning… especially when it comes to character arcs.
This following is a list of possible/potential character flaws—often the basis or anchor point of a character’s arc. Some are grouped, not necessarily by words of similar meaning, but what I’ve found (over my travels) as associated flaws.
Don’t use it as a shopping list.
If you come to a list like this, trying to select things at random, or combine traits to build out your character, you’re almost guaranteed to create something formulaic and artificial feeling.
Instead, get to know your character first, then come to the list to articulate and refine your thoughts.
LAST THING—help me make this list complete. If you think of a trait I missed that deserves to be on the list, leave a comment at the bottom of the page!
- Arrogant (know-it-all/condescending)—having or revealing an exaggerated sense of one’s own importance or abilities.
- Rudeness—offensively impolite or ill-mannered.
- Domineering (Bully/Bossy/Manipulative/possessive)—assert one’s will over another in an arrogant way.
- Dishonest (deceptive)—deceitfulness shown in someone’s character or behavior.
- Temperamental (short tempered/moody))—liable to unreasonable changes of mood.
- Conceited (prideful/pretentious)—excessively proud of oneself; vain.
- Unreliable (irresponsible)—not able to be relied upon.
- Dependent—requiring someone or something for financial, emotional, or other support.
- Pessimism (doubtful/hopeless/skeptical)—a tendency to see the worst aspect of things or believe that the worst will happen.
- Selfish—lacking consideration for others.
- Mean (cold-hearted/violent)—unkind, spiteful, or unfair.
- Self-centered (self-pity/self-indulgent/spoiled)—preoccupied with oneself and one’s affairs
- Cruel (merciless)—causing pain or suffering
- Cheater—a person who acts dishonestly in order to gain an advantage.
- Greedy—having or showing an intense and selfish desire for something,
- Stubborn (inflexible)—having or showing dogged determination not to change one’s attitude or position on something, esp. in spite of good arguments or reasons to do so.
- Inconsiderate (disrespectful/facetious/sarcastic/tardy)—thoughtlessly causing hurt or inconvenience to others.
- Entitled—believing oneself to be inherently deserving of privileges or special treatment.
- Ignorant (stupid/clumsy/gullible)—lacking knowledge or awareness in general.
- Overcritical—inclined to find fault too readily.
- Hypocritical— the practice of claiming to have moral standards or beliefs to which one’s own behavior does not conform.
- Immoral (devious/ruthless)—not conforming to accepted standards of morality. Skillful use of underhanded tactics to achieve goals.
- Jealous—feeling or showing envy of someone or their achievements and advantages.
- Snobbish—a person with an exaggerated respect for high social position or wealth who seeks to associate with social superiors and dislikes people or activities regarded as lower-class.
- Superficial (materialistic)—existing or occurring at or on the surface; interested and focused on irrelevant things.
- Humorless—lacking the quality of being amusing or comic.
- Vengeful (spiteful)—seeking to harm someone in return for a perceived injury.
- Passive-aggressive—of or denoting a type of behavior or personality characterized by indirect resistance to the demands of others and an avoidance of direct confrontation, as in procrastinating, pouting, or misplacing important materials.
- Lazy (sloth, inactive)—unwilling to work or use energy
- Intrusive (mischievous/perverse/rowdy)—making an unwelcome manifestation with disruptive or adverse.
- Disloyalty—failing to be loyal to one’s obligations
- Careless (reckless/loose cannon/wild)—not giving sufficient attention or thought to avoiding harm or errors
- Sullen (angry)—bad-tempered and sulky; gloomy.
- Immature (childish)—not fully developed
- Cowardly (excessively shy)—lacking courage.
- Impatient (easily frustrated)—to be quickly irritated or provoked.
- Bigoted (xenophobic)—obstinately convinced of the superiority or correctness of one’s own opinions and prejudiced against those who hold different opinions.
- Slob (disorganized)—a lazy and slovenly person.
- Unfocused—not seeing clearly; easily distracted.
- Cynicism—a person who believes that people are motivated purely by self-interest rather than acting for honorable or unselfish reason.
- Neurotic (nervous/finicky/obsessive/restless/insane)—abnormally sensitive, obsessive, or tense and anxious.
- Sensitive (stressed)—quick to detect or respond to slight changes, signals, or influences.
- Competitiveness—having or displaying a strong desire to be more successful than others.
- Absentminded—having or showing a habitually forgetful or inattentive disposition
- Argumentative—given to expressing divergent or opposite views.
- Indifferent (tactless/unemotional)—having no particular interest or sympathy; unconcerned.
- Dull (unimaginative)—lacking interest or excitement
- Indecisive—unable to make a decision quickly and effectively.
- Insecure (submissive/withdrawn)—not confident.
- Melodramatic—prone to sensationalism.
- Stingy—unwilling to give or spend; ungenerous.
- Noncommunicative (secretive/mysterious)—unwilling to talk or impart information.
- Strict—demanding that rules concerning behavior are obeyed and observed.
- Superstitious—excessively credulous belief in and reverence for supernatural beings, predetermined fate or luck.▪
About the Author —
Nick Macari is a full-time freelance story consultant, developmental editor and writer, working primarily in the independent gaming and comic markets. His first published comic appeared on shelves via Diamond in the late 90’s. Today you can find his comic work on comixology, amazon and in select stores around the U.S. Visit NickMacari.com for social media contacts and news on his latest releases.