character developement

Don’t Have Stupid Characters

By | Writing Tips | No Comments

The post title is pretty self explanatory but let’s delve into it a bit shall we? How many of us as readers get annoyed when we figure something out long before the character and then the story drags and drags as mentally we just keep saying “Come on already. They totally should’ve caught on by now!” It makes what could’ve been a great experience into just an okay one, and a just okay book into down right awful.

Most of the time as readers we like to be given information that the characters don’t know, however, when there’s an event or a situation that should’ve been a light bulb moment and the character is just clueless and still doesn’t know? That’s a problem. This reads untrue to any semi-smart human being and even if you have a dopey/stupid character — fine — but make them that way all the time, with all decisions. When characters don’t learn or realize things for an extended period of time it feels like the author is extending the conflict because there’s nothing else going on.

This falls right along with giving your characters some common sense. When they take everything at face value and don’t question what they’re being told, yeah it feels fake and contrived, like the author had no other ideas for conflict. The trick would be throwing in an instance or two as a subplot when a lapse in common sense raises the stakes (especially in an already high stake climax plot wise).

Yeah, No.

Being too easily manipulated also comes to mind, and it can really ruin the realism of any story. So don’t fall into that trap. An example? The Prince in Mirror Mirror, he seemed pretty smart and with it (And I actually kinda liked him) until he took the Queen’s word at face value and wouldn’t listen to Snow White. Yeah I’m aware it’s a spoof type movie and fun, but really? They couldn’t give him a little more intuitiveness? And then turning him into a guy who acts like a dog didn’t help either. I definitely want some more good prince characters out there à la Prince Henry from Ever After. So I guess I’ll just have to write those stories myself but more on that later.

We relate to stories most easily when the characters are relatable, have faults, and make mistakes, but this doesn’t mean making them blind to all possible flashes of insight and inspiration. Let’s give our characters some life and make sure they aren’t acting stupid in very convenient places just to extend plot and word count.


Make sure to check out the latest DanielleWAM post When Your Writing Gets a Burst

Comparisons Sometimes Can Help. My Villain vs Voldemort

By | Publishing, Website stuff | 2 Comments

Many times when a person starts comparing themselves to others the outcome isn’t good. However when it comes to character development I find comparisons to be invaluable.

Now I was in the shower when I hashed out some really key details about my main villain. Maybe it’s just me but I tend to get my best thinking and brain storming done about my novels and my characters while in the shower. Go figure its always when I’m surrounded by water and nowhere near a computer or notebook. (Not that I could use them while wet anyways). Thankfully I was able to retain most of the thoughts I had until I got the opportunity to write them down.  
Lego Voldemort – Sweet

What I’d done was compared my main villain to Lord Voldemort. As far as literature goes, he’s one great bad guy in contemporary work. And as I’m extremely well aquatinted with all things Harry Potter it made sense for me to flesh out the flaws and motivations for my main villain in comparison to Voldemort. What an amazing character JK Rowling developed! He went from a sociopathic, attention seeking teenager (who murdered his father) to someone with devoted followers who wanted to place himself as supreme ruler and to subjugate all Muggles.
Now I agree with many others in the writing sphere that when promoting or trying to sell your novel it is probably best not to compare your work with some internationally recognizable names. But I find it immensely helpful with my own characters. The more I thought about Voldemort and his history and all of his motivations the easier it was for me to flesh out my villain. 
In thinking about how my villain was different from Voldemort I nailed down some very essential characteristics and motivations. Was my villain a sociopath? Was he(she) an attention seeking teenager? Did he commit murder at a young age? What was her childhood like? Did he want a large following of people who worshipped him? Or did she prefer to work from the shadows, manipulating people in an underhanded, hidden behind fake names kind of way? By taking the details I knew and understood about Voldemort and then putting that in direct comparison with my villain I got some great work done, and was a huge eye opener at the same time. (You’ll notice I alternated between referring to my villain as a he or a she. This was so there’s no spoilers. 😀 )

What you read can have huge impacts on your writing see What You Read Will Always Affect Your Writing, but in addition you can analyze great books and great characters that you love and use them to grow and develop your own characters and writing. Happy Writing all! 😀

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