character flaws [ˈkariktər flôs]: Stuff that make up characters that we end up having complicated feelings for.
I was scrolling through Maggie Stiefvater’s tumblr the other day (it’s become somewhat of a habit ever since I started reading The Raven Cycle series last December), when something grabbed my attention. A sentence that stayed with me hours after I read the post. Someone had asked Stiefvater her thoughts on Vladimir Nabokov’s stance that a good reader is one who is impartial to the story and the characters in it. Along with her response regarding what she expects from a good reader and what she thinks about Nabokov’s stance as a writer herself, Stiefvater went on to point out the things that makes a good reader. She said, ‘remember that a flawed character is not necessarily a bad character.’
|Garfield only be a troublemaker of sorts. (Source)
Flawed is Just More Interesting
|Everyone has those. (Source)
Duality is Key
|Lazy is not a flaw, it’s someone else’s idea. (Source)
How to Characterize?
|Say yes to smartass. (Source)
So yes, flawed isn’t (necessarily) bad but flawed is engrossing and it makes the reader uncomfortable which is subjective and may not be everyone’s thing. While bad is just bad, flawed is messy and complicated and also many not be everyone’s thing (especially the deeply flawed). However, what Stiefvater says is also true, ‘there’s as much universality in emotional resonance as there is in style preference.’