On Making Distinct Characters
I do a lot of play-by-post roleplaying, and despite the hobby's image of being a place to hog attention and create Mary Sues, I find it a great way to work on characterization. Many of the sites I roleplay at require detailed profiles and even character weaknesses, so it I believe it helps. There is, though, something that has been bothering me for a while.
I despise characters with no weaknesses and don't want all my characters to act and think the same, so often I give my characters major weaknesses or a bunch of minor ones, and make those his/her defining traits. Often times (always, now), though, I find that I exaggerate that defining trait, whether it be a weakness or not, in order to differentiate him/her from my other characters. I didn't really find a problem with it before, but looking back at my older characters, subtlety was what what I went with. Probably because I didn't really have many characters and didn't have to differentiate them so much. And I found that while I like some of my exaggerated characters, I like the subtle ones more.
So I ask, where does the line between unlikeable caricatures and distinct characters lie?