Finding Your Character’s Blind Spot

Every character has a potential blind spot. It’s up to the writer to discover where and use the information to the story’s advantage.

 

Every character has a blind spot, an area where they are most vulnerable. Within that emotional darkness, they lack understanding, ignore the situation, or are unaware of potential harm. Through a series of planned deception, the opposition successfully deceives and manipulates the character. The consequences are often devastating.

 

The opposition can be nature, another person, society, psychological, physical limitations, or spiritual indoctrination.

 

Discovering a blind spot paves the way to uncovering the character’s behavior, and the knowledge becomes a valuable part of the story. These shortcomings aren't limited to antagonists. Our protagonists can be resistant to lies, charm, or an intoxicating lure. Emotion often masks logic, disguising truth and reason.

 

To find a stumbling block, begin by searching the character’s backstory.

 

Backstory

Backstory is the character’s life experiences that affect the character’s goals, conflicts, and desires before chapter one, line one of the story. The information lays the foundation of the character’s personality. From the moment the character is born, his or her reactions and responses to life experiences shape the mental, physical, emotional, and spiritual internal landscape. A child models behavior from parents and caregivers. False perceptions to the realities of life give the child a ragged view of how to handle problems. As the child grows, teachers, peers, and media shape values, attitude, behavior, and what motivates or doesn’t motivate a character.

 

From the backstory, we learn how flaws and weaknesses often create mental barriers. The character who is conscious of the tendencies can choose to overcome them. The character who disregards the obstruction will eventually face the consequences.

 

The similarities of a protagonist and an antagonist who have a blind spot:

 

            Both are capable of being deceived.

            Both can become aware of the problem.

            Both can overcome the weakness.

            Both have a choice.

 

For the protagonist

Dealing with a blind spot is an opportunity for growth and change, either before or after the story begins.

 

Sometimes the realization is painful, allowing the writer to create emotional tension that endears the reader to the character. These characters have the traits to become heroes and heroines.

 

Two scenarios can take place.

 

  1. The protagonist was made aware of their weakness during the backstory. He or she overcame the problem. The character can now use the past experience to hone in on other characters who have not reconciled with similar weak traits.

 

  1. The protagonist didn’t recognize the problem, but other strengths masked and compensated for the weakness. Dealing with the unaddressed issue is imperative to the plot.

 

High stakes result if the opposition discovers the blind spot, decreasing the chances of the protagonist reaching his goal.

 

For the antagonist

Two scenarios can take place which occur in the backstory.

 

  1. The antagonist has never discovered the weakness. However, he or she covered any inadequacies with abilities to manipulate others that originate in charm, wealth, or power.

 

  1. The antagonist refuses to address a frail part of their landscape.

     Arrogance overrules any desire to change.

 

Just like the protagonist, if the opposition discovers the barrier, the antagonist will not reach their goal, and this can be a method of stopping inappropriate actions.

 

Here are some methods of how to reveal blind spots in your story.

 

Characterization

Character experiences from the past and present can point to vulnerable areas. Those life events are rooted in the character’s personality. Show the character’s helplessness to see the reality of a situation through goals, conflict, internal narration, and established traits.

 

Plot

Out of a character’s wants and needs emerges plot. A blind spot whirls in the midst of those wants and needs, adding stress, tension, and conflict to the storyline.

 

Emotion

Emotion is the way in which the character believes feelings should be internalized, displayed, or hidden. When emotions are handled in an unhealthy manner, the character has encountered flaws that hinder reactions and responses in their life dealings.

 

The writer can point toward the blind spot when obvious emotional pain is apparent: blame, fear, shame, anger, confusion, denial, disbelief, mood swings, guilt, depression, and other pointers to dysfunction.

 

Symbolism

A symbol is a tangible item that means something psychological to the character—and translates to the reader the same emotional response. By providing an evocative experience, we enable a reader to identify elements of story beyond the written word. A new level of appreciation surfaces because the symbol has attached itself to the characters—and the reader.

 

A blind spot often reaches into the depth of a character’s psychological makeup and manifests itself in a symbol.

 

Dialogue

While dialogue is fresh, new, and contains spirit, the words a character speaks reflects what occupies his or her mind. A mental barrier translates to denial or avoidance in what a character says and often in conflict with another character(s).

 

Setting

A character who has an obstructed view of a setting fails to comprehend the savagery at which a setting can turn against them. He or she is taken unaware by an environment either mental, physical, or spiritual and is forced to be resourceful.

 

Every character has a potential blind spot. It’s up to the writer to discover where and use the information to the story’s advantage.

 

DiAnn Mills is a bestselling author who believes her readers should expect an adventure. She is a founding board member of the American Christian Fiction Writers, director of the Blue Ridge Mountains Christian Writers Conference, and a member of Advanced Writers and Speakers Association, Mystery Writers of America, Sisters in Crime, and International Thriller Writers. 

 

DiAnn is passionate about helping other writers be successful and speaks to various groups and teaches writing workshops around the country. She and her husband live in sunny Houston. DiAnn is very active online and loves to connect with readers on social media and at diannmills.com.