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Sunday, February 24

Sunday Writing Tip: Identify Your Protagonist’s Fatal Flaw

By Janice Hardy, @Janice_Hardy

Each week, I’ll offer a writing tip you can take and apply to your WIP to help improve it. They’ll be easy to do and shouldn’t take long, so they’ll be tips you can do without taking up your Sunday. Though I do reserve the right to offer a good tip now and then that will take longer—but only because it would apply to the entire manuscript.

This week, take a moment and identify your protagonist’s fatal flaw, and make sure that it plays a role in both the character arc, and the plot.


Unless you’re writing a series with a non-changing protagonist, such as a detective, spy, or “person with a specific job” type who doesn’t have a character arc, you’ll likely want a fatal flaw. This is the flaw at the center of the character arc, and the issue the protagonist needs to overcome or grow out of by the end of the book.

How much a role the flaw plays in the story depends on how important the character arc is to the novel. Some novels will have a small arc to give the protagonist a bit of growth, others will rely on the growth as a reason for the plot. Some don’t have any character growth at all, and no need for a character arc—though you might still want to give that character a major flaw or two just to keep things interesting.

Wherever your story falls on the scale, you want that flaw to do its job and contribute to the overall story, plot, and character growth of the protagonist(s).

For more on flaws and character arcs in your novel, try these articles:

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