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How Do I Write A Great Character?


We hear all the time about two dimensional, stereotypical or even downright offensive characters. None of us can believe we’d EVER write something **like that**, so instead we point figures at those who do and keep on writing our stuff, sure ours are that much better.

A lot is said about the “usual” characters, too: how readers are seeing the *types* of characters, doing the same types of things, for the same types of reasons, in the same types of stories.

Then there are the writers trying to go against the tide  and do *something different*. Though admirable in intent, readers end up with yet more of the above, since those writers’ supposedly different characters often become representative of *issues*, thus fall into  yet another “usual” trap.

So, instead of thinking about the “usual” (and trying to twist it, usually too far) or making your character speak for ALL WOMEN; the LGBT community; or a particular ethnic group … think on this, instead:

Your characters don’t need:

Acres of back story or tragic pasts

– To be predictable

– To be too obvious re: their role function in the plot

Gender or stereotype reversals *just* for the sake of it

– To embody the “empowerment” of a particular group of people

– Behaviours or traits completely out of the left field

– To be defined by their looks or clothes

– To be defined solely by their jobs, love lives or family

– To be defined by their gender, race or sexuality

– To be the mouthpiece for your own beliefs

–  To be completely logical, 100% of the time

– To behave well, 100% of the time

Instead, for your characters to really have IMPACT:

Write a character who FEELS REAL.

That’s all the reader wants … and it’s all the audience wants, too.

Look at the above list again. All of us in real life are a melting pot of experiences, beliefs, behaviours and factors: everything has a part in making us who we are.

Give your characters that same mix of factors, instead of just one or two … Make them and their behaviour feel plausible and authentic, plus have them DO ACTIONS that feel plausible and authentic within the context of your storyworld and guess what?? 

You’ll have a great character. 


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How Best To Introduce A Character?

Top 5 Ways Writers Screw Up Their Characters

6 Stock Characters That Need Retiring By Writers NOW

Cracked: 28 Great Movies From The Perspective Of Minor Characters

Script Angel: Creating Memorable Characters (Scriptmag)

Jezebel: Know Your Female Character Steroetypes (Flowchart)

Overthinking It: Why Strong Female Characters Are Bad For Women

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