Your brain sends you this wondrous idea for a story in a bolt out of the blue.  You see landscapes and events and… waitasec… who’s gonna be your star?

Ahh, the joys of character development.  Early on, aspiring writers fall into that infamous trap of living out fantasies by putting a doppelganger of themselves onto the page.  Not quite a clone or true replica because this character has it all.  Looks, athleticism, charm, money, power, and an endless supply of Taco Bell.  It’s the perfect character.

And it’s crap.

If you decide to inject a bit of yourself into your stories, you need the elements that define you.  The elements that deep down, you know they make you who you are.  But sadly (whether we want to admit it or not), most of our actions result from our flaws.  Got a gambling problem?  I bet that influences how you act, react and plan things out.  Got a nervous twitch from a childhood dodge ball incident that kicks into high gear when people say the word "ball"?  I’d imagine you’d do anything to avoid going to sporting events.

Eating disorders.  Psychological trauma.  Physical impairments.  Emotional instability.  A hard-on for your inner zealot.  A fourth nipple that looks just like Frank Zappa.  These characteristics make people do things.  It makes them take action (even if it’s motivation is to avoid certain actions).  The story gets movement with these flaws… forward, back or sideways.  They provide an innate trigger for action within the character.  And without these flaws?  Well…

Invulnerable, immortal and devilishly handsome Awesome-naut sits by the pool at his mansion enjoying the tickle of expensive bubbly while reading through a mountain of fanmail.

"A meteor just made a u-turn in space and bolts its way straight toward Earth.  Save us, Awesome-naut!", screams the announcer from the radio.

"Meh.  I’ll survive.  Joey!  Refill, por favor!"

Pretty exciting stuff there, eh?  Well, what if you make a minor tweak…

The nearsighted yet invulnerable Flawed-naut makes his way from the optometrist… dark glasses in place to protect his dilated eyes when screams echo down the street.  A large vehicle heads toward an intersection where a crowd crosses the street… toothpicks before a five ton woodchipper.

Flawed-naut leaps into the street and muscles strain and twist as he grinds the large vehicle to a stop.  He turns to check on the citizens crossing the street, and for saving the day… the crowd greets him with boos.

He squints to get a closer look at the vehicle he stopped with all its… decorations and people standing on top… and all those large balloons shaped like Underdog and Taz filling the skyline behind it… and a banner with fuzzy letters on them.  He strains further and cheeks flush with a heat and color as he makes out the words, "Bieber Day Parade".


And yes, that last character is an amalgam of most muscle-bound superheroes and Mr. Magoo.

When you look for that perfect character to fit your story, try starting not with the heroic, protagonist or "perfect" qualities that will fit the story.  Think of the flaws that would instinctively bring that character to action and help breathe life into the story all on its own.  Cause characters that drives themselves make it much easier to get that story written.