Wednesday, September 05, 2018

Common Mistakes in Creating Characters

Here are a few things you don’t want your characters to be:

1) Stereotypical.

Too predictable or clichéd. Think of a strong, manly cowboy drawling all his words, scuffing his boots through the dirt with a bow-legged walk, and calling every woman he meets darlin’. Don’t fall into the trap of making your characters sound like a bad movie. It’s okay to use bits and pieces of known characteristics, but make sure your characters are unique with something different to personalize them and help them stand out.

2) Flat.

No one likes a blah/boring character. Actions and dialogue make characters who they are, so make sure you’re including strong verbs, movement, quirks, and specific descriptions relating to characteristics in order to bring them to life.

3) Too stupid to live.

A common phrase used to describe characters constantly falling into trouble and making inevitably wrong—and usually silly/ridiculous, out of character—choices. These characters are those with no validation for their actions such as dropping in a hole out of nowhere and needs to be saved, a long, lost, never heard of before past love or enemy showing up out of the blue mid-story, or characters engaging in a constant reign of miscommunication that could have easily been solved by one face to face conversation in the very first chapter. Wanting to have creative or wacky events in your manuscript can be fun and unique, simply make sure your characters have purpose and follow a thought process or action sequence that is rooted to some form of validation woven throughout.

4) Too perfect.

It is more often the flaws that endear a character to the reader than the heroics. People are not perfect. EVERYONE has flaws and THAT’S OKAY. It makes us human. These flaws can help create unique aspects to the conflicts in a manuscript, and as noted, flaws are what makes your characters relatable to your readers. And this relatability is what draws a reader to your characters, to your voice, to your books, over and over and over again.


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  1. TSTL--ha ha! I hate when characters are like that. Great advice, thanks.

  2. Astute advice. I think I am guilty of making my characters too perfect looking sometimes. At least my heroines. But they have other issues. Best wishes.

  3. I love a flawed character! I need to be careful about those stereotypes, though... Great post!