How to handle weak characters

Occasionally, a novel centers around a weak character. It certainly can be interesting. Rarely, does it work if the writer allows that character to remain a weakling who wallows in that weakness. Usually, readers only tolerate the weakness of a character if he/she is confronted by a challenge and struggles to meet that challenge.

Here are some ways to pull off the weakness of a character without losing the reader.

1.  When developing a character who needs to be weak, make the weakness interesting. After all, it’s much more interesting to read about someone who has some strong points but feels inadequate in facing the challenge presented than it is to read about someone who is a weakling through and through.

2. When writing about a weakling, make it believable. The character can overcome huge obstacles, but they must do so in a believable way. In other words, if the character must run a marathon to save the day, you’ll have to show the character working up to that level of physical fitness. It will not be believable for your character to stand up from his couch-potato-ness to run 26+ miles. Show the struggle to make it believable.

3. Unless your story is a fantasy, don’t drag your character from miserable wretch to super hero. For your character to work, he/she needs to acquire the skills required to meet the challenge of the story. He/she doesn’t need to become perfect or strong in unrelated areas.

4. Make the struggle genuine. There are two points to  make about genuine: (1) Don’t overplay the struggle; and (2) Cconversely, don’t allow the world to fall at your ex-weakling’s feet.

To work, the struggle and triumph need to be difficult and a true win.

About loubelcher

I'm a freelance artist and writer. I enjoy anything whimsical and my art and writing generally concentrate on the lighter side of life.
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