Characters: why you need this hero

You’ve probably seen them around and about – lists of  ‘attributes’ to select from, the aim being to develop your character, to give them more depth, round them out, and a dozen other things we writers are supposed to do for these people  inhabiting our stories.  Now, I know some good people who offer those lists, and I’m not knocking them. They are useful tools, particularly when it comes to the supporting cast of characters –  but I think even those who offer such lists will tell you that it is what is behind any character attribute/flaw/quirk/phobia/etc/etc that is important.

A great character, one readers will love,  has something far harder to define or pin down than any attribute, flaw, or quirk.

On my home page I mention that if I find any great tips, or advice that I think is worth sharing, that’s what I’ll blog about.  Today I came across this by a lovely Scots lass otherwise known as the Wee Blethering Skite. You won’t be able to take away a list – but this is by far one of the best insights into character that I have come across.

I need a hero...

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9 thoughts on “Characters: why you need this hero

    1. A pleasure! I’ve found that this lady often has some really smart things to say when it comes to all aspects of writing – and reading.

      And btw, folks – Jane has some great points about ‘strong’ female characters on her blog. Another highly recommended read.

  1. Hi Alex – thanks for stopping by! I agree, secondary characters often get somewhat short-changed when it comes to how much attention we pay to their motivations, so lists can definitely help us start thinking about those characters and who we want them to be. I think the most important thing to remember for any character, no matter how big or small their role, is whether or not they are interesting enough for a reader to want to spend any time with them.
    Perhaps a secondary character is the person at the party everyone gathers around to hear what they have to say, but hopefully your MC is not the person who, as soon as you spot them across the room, you duck behind the nearest pot-plant.

  2. That was a really thoughtful article. I tried to figure out the author’s name to look up their work, but I couldn’t figure it out!

    I take mental pieces of people I know or people I’ve met. I think he’s right on about whether the author likes the character or doesn’t like them– it also gives you a chance to play with a character’s reliability over time– like giving the reader that uncomfortable “Aha!” moment when a character they judged as un-relatable suddenly becomes understood. It’s a lot harder to pull off the reverse though.

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