Soooo….One thing I learned about fiction writing is to make sure your main character starts out FLAWED. Yes, like not pretty flaws. Of course, that doesn’t mean they shouldn’t be cool and awesome and unique, but making them flawed makes them human and thereby relatable. And, honestly, if they aren’t flawed, what’s your story about? The whole point of a story is to watch someone transform before your eyes.
This got me thinking…life is really about relationships and how we learn to navigate them, and therefore, stories also should be. I started thinking about how our character’s flaws should shine the most through their relationships–and then we can watch them fix it!
Here is a handy list of some common relationship issues you can give your character and what they need to learn to fix their relationship issues (based on Laura Doyle’s intimacy skills):
Issues with setting boundaries, codependency, people pleaser—need to learn the art of self-care and setting boundaries in relationships
Issues with judging others, being ridged in their views, expecting perfect performance of others, difficult time forgiving and admitting mistakes—need to learn how to let go of boundaries and see another person’s POV—the art of respecting another person
Issues with opening up to others and sharing their true feelings, issues with trusting others which makes them image conscious to get the attention they crave (including overachievement, workaholism, and over rationalizing relationships)—need to learn the art of vulnerability and trusting others with their feelings
Issues with controlling others, being aggressive and not taking other’s feelings into account—need to learn how to relinquish control
Issues with being passive in conflict; pretending like nothing is wrong, for the sake of peace, ignoring problems in relationships –need to realize that problems are not bad or an indicator of lack of worth, they are the breeding ground for coming closer–the art of acceptance and gratitude
Issues with having a passive-aggressive pattern to dealing with issues in relationships, as well as becoming overly clingy and dependent on certain people, seeking security—need to learn the art of communication in relationships and how to say what they want in an undemanding way
Issues with feeling victimized in relationships, feeling helpless and powerless to change anything, self-esteem issues–need to learn the art of being a receiver, which involves all of the above skills, to give them the power they need to change their relationships around
I hope this will further help you flesh out your characters and give them more layers and dimensions. I know this has helped me (who knew that when you write a story you are a relationship coach in disguise?)
This is an awesome tip, @elisheva92 ! You’ve put down some really important points about human flaws in relationships. As a fan of Laura Doyle’s relationship skills, this is incredibly helpful for me to develop the characters and their relationship struggles in my novel. Thanks a bunch for sharing!!