I am a young author writing a fantasy series. In my story, my MC is strong, resilient, and always needs to look perfect on the outside. This is her biggest flaw, not telling the other characters about her feelings, injuries, illnesses, fears, weakness, etc. because she feels the need to look like a leader. She hates feeling helpless and weak.

This character does in fact have something wrong with her. She is plagued by dreams/visions of the past. At first she has no idea why they are happening but soon discovers that someone else is trying to show her something. Unfortunately, this someone else doesn’t understand humans very well. They planted these visions in her brain to let her know important information that only the antagonist knows. The dreams and visions become more vivid, terrifying, and out of control to the point where she sometimes just collapses.

My MC learns that people have had these dreams before, and they always ended up going insane and dying. The MC, terrified of this, also learns that she has to learn to control the visions or the same will happen to her. The best way to do this is to tell others about the dreams.


The MC refuses to do this as she insists she doesn’t need help and can do it by herself and she slowly goes insane. Right before she completely loses it she realizes she can’t always do everything by herself and she does need help.

This is the only way I can ovoid my MC dying in the first book, but giving in just isn’t her character. She is unusually stubborn.

What are some tips to write a character like this in a believable way? This has nothing to do with the dream part of it, so no it’s not world building. I just need to know how to properly write this kind of character.

3 Answers 3


Breaking character is ok

Your main character, and, in fact, any of the characters can break their character (no pun intended) - just not at any moment. There must be a crisis, strong enough to shake a person to cause her to reveal her inner side. This crisis would pass, and the person may even regret this "moment of weakness", but the cat would be out of the bag. The other person would know the secret, and, depending on your plot, would try to exploit it, or offer genuine help.


Internal Flaws should have External Consequences

If a flaw's only consequence happens when its too late to change anything (in your example, going insane and dying) there's no drama you can add that will provide the turning point for them to overcome their flaw. IE: A stubborn character needs to pay for their stubbornness before they will decide to not be stubborn any longer.

In your case, if your main character is slowly going insane - create consequences for that insanity. Do they rage at their friends and allies, driving them away? Do they mentally or physically hurt others? Do they unintentionally sabotage their own larger goals, enabling the antagonist to claim victory? Any of these can serve as a turning point, where the protagonist realizes the error of their obstinate stance. And the more such events you add, the more implacably obstinate the main character appears in the face of obvious mistakes they are making.

  • @The-Huntress I would add to this that the outward sign of the character's loss of control could be the character is proven to be out of control and actually rendered involuntarily helpless in the face of their illness (and in front of witnesses who recognize what is happening and take the character in hand, so to speak). The choice of exposing her weakness is taken away from her (rendering the character blameless in terms or exposing her own weakness) so she stay in character yet is exposed to all as a helpless and weak. Her very defiance of her own helplessness and weakness does her in.
    – DWKraus
    Aug 26, 2021 at 23:40

The MC needs motivation greater than her tenacity

Once you get down the main points, we have her impending doom trying against her tenacity. Since impending doom isn't quite enough to make her give in, you need to either A) make her less stubborn or B) increase the threat or C) add a third party intervention. The MC probably has some people with her, add onto her impending doom the fact that she'll probably kill them if she doesn't let them in on the secret.

Still not enough? Death will be slow and painful. Doesn't fear death? She will live forever slowly molding in a cave as bugs and vermin eat away at her body. Still not giving in? Give them a bad day where everything goes wrong to push her over the edge and spill the beans.

As for option C, this one will probably mess with your latter plot if you've already planned that out. Have a shaman/mind reader/fortune teller show up to the group. The shaman is basically Sherlock who then proceeds to strip away every bit of secrecy in the group and then just leaves everyone in a very awkward silence where they all feel exposed and forcing the MC to let everyone in on her vision secret.

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