(Yay! I got two new blog followers when I wasn't looking. I'm excited, but it makes me feel bad because I neglected my blog for a little while. Anyway . . . . )
It's very hard to create a lovable, but believable character. Someone who has a personality developed enough to be real. Someone with strengths and weaknesses. It's something I've been forced to work on a lot and improve upon myself. I still haven't mastered it, but I have some thoughts on a few things I've seen.
First, some authors say that their character has a fault that is actually a good trait. The two most common faults I've seen that were good traits is being clumsy and having a temper. These are actual faults in real life, but let me explain why they often aren't faults in a story. In scenes where a characters acts clumsy, the results of the clumsy act are usually funny and help you become endeared to the character a little more. It helps us relate to them better because very few of us are actually graceful, but it doesn't make you shake your head and want to talk some sense into the character.
A character with a true fault should make you slap yourself on the forehead, wonder why they could be so stupid, hate them a little bit for what they have done. Like for instance, when Harry Potter in Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix couldn't be happy with Ron and Hermione for becoming prefects. He wants to become a prefect because he's used to the world revolving around him and can't understand why two lesser individuals would get the job instead. I don't know about you, but I was pretty angry with Harry there and his self-centered attitude. His friends had always been on his side, happy for anything that happened to him, and supportive of all his problems and he still behaved that way? Like I said, a fault makes you just want to shake a character and ask them why they did something.
Tempers can be genuine faults in stories. They can lead to self-destructive behaviors and hurting those you love. Unfortunately, most authors claim that a character has a temper, when they really mean that a character will always speak up and fight when they see some kind of injustice in the world. I've seen characters with tempers fight bullies, but hardly ever actually doing the bullying themselves. In that case, having a temper is actually a desirable and admirable trait because they care for nothing except for making sure there is justice in the world.
I've also noticed that there is a common fault a lot of characters have that people write, but never actually claim is true. I notice a lot of characters have a well-meaning mother or best friend, who is really chatty and that they will often tune her out when she starts talking on and on about stuff they deem unimportant. Usually, when the character suddenly blurts out something the audience will find interesting, then the main character will actually start listening again. Being unable to hear anything another character is saying unless they are talking about something that specifically pertains to the story and main character is called being a bad listener. I wish a few authors would notice this and label it as an actual fault. Having a friend like that would drive anyone crazy.
So when you're writing a character, make sure their faults aren't twisting into lovable things. If your character has mood swings, make sure the character is painted in an irrational light every once in awhile and doesn't just cry or scream and appropriate parts of the story. If your character is violent, up his or her fascination with gore, having her or him attack people just for fun and not when rescuing someone else's life is at hand.