Tabatha's Guide to Creating a Character

Disclaimers: This is just one method of very, very many, and in fact my method kind of combines several different methods into one that works for me, so take everything with a grain of salt. // This guide will focus on how to create human characters living in the US because those are the only kind of characters I’ve ever created, but feel free to tweak this to fit other stuff as well.

Below the cut is a guide, with examples, to creating characters that I’ve used on many of my own. 

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anonymous said:

In your opinion, would a "Black Best Friend" character with her own story and her own obligations be acceptable or too close to the unfortunate trope? She is very supportive and fairly cool (as compared to my main character), but she is a) not the "One Black Friend" (she is one of a fairly diverse friend group that includes other black folks) and b) gets her own voice and story and isn't 100% devoted to the main character. Just curious about your thoughts on that, if you have a moment. Thanks!

Anonymous2 said: i saw your last post about the ‘black best friend’ trope, so i thought i’d come and ask you about this to make sure it won’t come off wrong. i’m writing a story set in the future with a very limited number of characters/people in general, and the two main characters are girls— one of which is white and the other of which is black. i know you said to avoid the trope maybe give them more black friends, but they don’t have any other friends, it’s just the two of them. is that a problem?

The Black Best Friend Trope

If you’re afraid of your character falling victim to the Black Best Friend trope, ask yourself this: does this character have their own goals, dreams and intentions which don’t have anything to do with your white MC? Does she do more than “help a white character”. Are they more than token diversity in your story (their race can be ignored)? 

If you answered yes to all the questions then you’re doing fine. Remember that this trope is a flat character, and treated more like an object than a character.

~ Mod Alice

An example of a Black best friend pulled off without living up to the trope is Christina in the Divergent series. Given I haven’t read the final book, I can only go off what I’d read within the first two that’s done well.

Christina was a fully recognized character. She had goals, dreams, intentions. She acted independently of the MC and had family members we met, a love interest, character arc, and substantial involvement in the secondary plot.

(Minor spoiler alert)

There’s a fallout between Tris and Christina for a while which defies the Black Best Friend notion of total devotion to the MC, though when they make up, Christina’s reconnection to her is loving but not 100% debt-clearing, so even her forgiveness is not loose and submissive.

There’s not an inherent issue with having Black best friend characters, but so often they’re always the best friend, never the protagonist.

Also, too often their presence is there for comic relief (Christina was in no way “Sassy" thank god) to remain "strong, independent and don’t need no man" aka are Strong Black women, to be Magical Negros…so basically are an embodiment of other problematic tropes.

So, as Alice said, make the best friend a fully realized character and you should be fine.

~Mod Colette

anonymous said:

Since Latin@ isn't a race how could I blatantly (because of readers constantly assuming white is the default) specify the race of a Latina character without mentioning her being Latina at all since it's an ethnicity and not a race?

Indicating Latinx Characters

Well first you need to establish a race. Most Latinx people are a mix of races, depending on where they are from. After choosing her race you can focus on skin color and other markers that define her identity as a Latina such as language, culture, and tradition.

Our Latinx tag may provide more help with this.

-Mod Lori