- Nine: I think I was in love once.
- Ten: Really? What was her name?
- Nine: Her name was Rose.
- Ten: Doctor, we all love Rose.
- Nine: I love Rose because she's fantastic. She always knew just what to say and she made me better.
- Ten: Oh, yes! Rose was brilliant. All soft and warm and clever and so very human.
- Eleven: I love River!
- Nine: ...
- Ten: ...
- Eleven: I love Clara!
- Ten: Doctor, are you just looking at girls in the universe and saying that you love them?
- Eleven: I love... fez.
- Ten: Do you really love fez, or are you just saying that because you saw it?
- Eleven: I - I love fez! I love fez.
Writing Superheroes and Villains
I wanted to ask about writing superheroes, how do you first go about balancing their powers out and finding equal villains for them to go against? -cluewhite
What a wonderful question! I’m really going to enjoy answering this one and hopefully our followers might be able to share their own opinions (hint hint).
When creating a superhero there are a few things to consider:
- What gives them their superpower (special spider, iron suit, the fact they are a god).
- What their superpower is and its limitations. (All superheroes have limitations- think of Batman!).
- What is their weakness. (Small knifes? Hahaha I made a funny.)
- Who knows their weakness?
- How does their personality contribute to their superhero status? Do they deserve to be a superhero?
- Best question: Are they a superhero by choice?
These are just some questions I would consider to start developing this character. Superheroes are normal characters, they deserve the same amount of character development and they need to be rounded characters. You also need to really consider their motives. Are they driven by revenge? Or simply because they want to make a difference?
So your superhero can have any power they want, but it needs to have a limitation. If this character is unbeatable then there is no point in your story. Also, your reader will struggle to empathise with your character if they aren’t challenged and if there isn’t a struggle to succeed.
So lets talk about villains! Now, what you need to think about to start with is why are they enemies? Is it because your superhero knows this character and wants to stop them? Is it because your superhero has suffered at this villains hands? Or does the superhero want to act for the good of the people?
I’m going to mention some villains here so you can catch my drift a bit more.
- Obediah Stane (Ironman) - knew Tony and was motivated by greed. Tony fought him because he felt like it was his fault, he had created this ‘monster’.
- Lizard (The Amazing Spiderman)- Peter felt responsible for the Lizard thing as he had given him the formula.
- The Joker- (Batman) had no real motive, he just liked chaos. Batman fought him because it was the right thing to do, to save Gotham.
- Loki (Thor and Avengers)- Loki was motivated for revenge. Thor fights him because he is his brother and he feels responsible for him.
You can see a trend here with comic book superheroes. The superhero is normally motivated to fight the villain because he knows him, feels partly responsible or less common he just wants to fight them.
Of course this means nothing, you can do whatever you want with your superhero. But it is interesting to consider the relationship between these two central characters and how well they know the other.
So, making them equal.
You don’t have to make them equal, not at all. A common trend seems to be that one party is the brawn and the other the brain. What I think is more interesting though is when both characters are equally brilliant. It then is more a battle of tactics to win.
To make an equal villain develop them like you did your superhero. Consider what makes them powerful, what gives them the power. Their own weaknesses and strengths.
Give them both strengths and weaknesses and they should start to balance themselves out. Or they could just be equally as powerful and it is their personality that determines who wins.
I hope this has helped you! If not, hit us up again. (We don’t bite- much). Followers, as always feel free to chip in.
Is My Character Moral? (Rebloggable Version)
Admin Note: This post is a rebloggable copy of our page on character morality. The page is being phased out, so from now on all updates will be made on this post and not on the page.
Is your character moral? This is a very complicated question. First of all, what is “moral”?
Moral (n): focused on the fundamental principles of right conduct rather than on legalities, enactment, or custom.
Okay, so moral characters are concerned with right-mindedness; they care about doing the right thing. Right? Notice that, by the definition, morality supersedes legality and customs, which are constraints imposed on people by society. These constraints may be immoral like the military draft which forces people into a situation where they may have to kill another person (killing is pretty much immoral, folks) or the common custom of the “little white lie”. And because these constraints may be immoral, a moral character may, on occasion (or all the time), ignore them.
What are the principles of moral behavior? How can you tell, basically, if a character is moral?
“If you ask anyone, ‘What is morality based on?’ these are the two factors that always come out: One is Reciprocity, and associated with it is a sense of justice and a sense of fairness, and the other one is Empathy and compassion. Human morality is more than this, but if you would remove these two pillars, there would be not much remaining, I think, and so they are absolutely essential.” - Frans de Waal
What do Reciprocity and Empathy mean?
Reciprocity (n): responding to a positive action with another positive action, rewarding kind action
Empathy (n): the ability to understand and share the feelings of another
If your character is moral, he or she will almost certainly have a sense of fairness and compassion. Both of these are considered part of the Seven High Virtues, with Empathy commonly referred to as “Love” or “Charity”, and Reciprocity most often called “Justice”. Very moral characters will, most likely, have either Love, Charity, or Justice as their peak virtue.
Moral characters are often good listeners. They care for other people, and they want to do right by them. They are willing to take action to create positive outcomes for others. They have little to no concern for themselves.
Don’t get us wrong, morality is a sliding scale. Many heroic characters are basically moral, though they may sometimes kill, lie, steal, or cheat depending on what life-threatening or otherwise difficult situation has arisen. But if you’re looking for straight-up a moral character, the most common indicator will always be cooperation.
Does your character play well with others?
Morality arises from the need for cooperation, and the understanding of cooperation as essential to human interaction. There is no need to be moral if you are, for example, the last human on Earth. Who is there to be moral with or to? Therefore, moral characters desire to interact with others in a positive way. Immoral characters don’t care about offending or harming others, so they are cool with interacting in a negative way.
Moral heroic characters are often great leaders because they are good at cooperating. Immoral heroic characters are often loners because they are awful at cooperating.
Alright, so if your character moral, they will (most likely):
- Ignore legalities or customs that they view as immoral
- Have a strong sense of justice and compassion
- Cooperate well with other characters
It is worth noting that morality is different for different people in different places at different times in history. Generally, there are universal ideas of morality instilled within us from infancy (these are cooperation, justice, compassion, a sense of “rightness” and “wrongness”, etc). Deciding what you, as a writer, think of as “moral” is fundamental in determining the morality of the character in question. We can’t tell you what moral is for you in your story or for yourself, but once you decide that, you will be able to define your character’s morality.
If you are very interested in determining the morality of your character, you can take this quiz for yourself and/or for your character to help you decide. Be warned that some of the questions may not be truly applicable to your characters (for instance, whether or not stem cell research is wrong may not be an issue in your world because there is no stem cell research), but do your best to answer for your character in those situations.
For more on morality, check out our Videos about Morality post!
Dos and Don'ts of Writing Relationships.
hello there, I love your blog! Do you have any “don’t ‘s” when it comes to fictional relationships. I am writing a romantic relationship that was formed in an zombie apocalypse, any tips? - Anonymous
Hi, first of all thanks!
I thought quite a bit about this and I think I’m going to give you a list of do’s and don’ts. Now take everything I say with a pinch of salt, remember this isn’t ALWAYS the case and I’m basing some of these from bad fanfiction…
Disclaimer: These are my opinions.
- Have instant physical attraction (if that’s your thing)
- Have your characters get to know each other.
- Show the progression of the relationship.
- Still mention other characters in your story.
- Make the relationship realistic
- Have arguments (no relationship is perfect)
- Have things about the other person that annoys them (you left the seat up- AGAIN).
- Have them love each other instantly. It takes time to love each other and love grows as the relationship progresses.
- Have instant trust. (this may work for some, but I don’t think it’s realistic.)
- Make the relationship perfect
- Forget the other characters
- Only focus on the physical attraction (unless it’s not about love)
- Be sickly with their love. It turns me off, and I’m sure it turns others off.
- Make them have sex every five minutes.
I hope this helps, also keep in mind that if yours is set after a zombie apocalypse there may be very different reasons for your characters to get together than for most characters. So think of their reasons for wanting to be together. Are they clinging to the only person left? Forced together through circumstance?
Some links for you as well:
Thanks for the question!
[Private] Time to grow - Don/Aiden
Who: Don and Aiden
When: After Don’s arguments with various people
Where: The beach
What: A private intimate moment to talk (possibly more) to allow Don to develop and calm his behaviour for the better.
Yet another series of incidents had let to more threats against Aiden as a way of punishing Don for his behaviour. The stress was more than taking its toll on them both and was showing no signs of getting any better. So Aiden and Don decided it was time they took a walk alone to try and sort things out. Time for Don to grow up a little and accept a more mature attitude. To make friends rather than enemys.
They walked along the beach together, Aiden keeping a slightly submissive demeanour til they were alone on a secluded part of the beach. It was his first time out really wearing the leather collar that marked him out as Don’s.. and he couldn’t be happier or prouder. They sat on the sand leaning against some rocks watching the soothing waves crash against the shore line in the sun. Aiden leaned into him running an affectionate hand over his chest as they relaxed, watching the sea.
“I’m proud of you for realising this..” Aiden offered to Don, he really was proud that Don was now taking control of his behaviour. “Its time to make friends here. The means making some changes. Making things easier on us, and easier to form friends here.” He new what needed to be done. and he new that after recent events which had proved very stressful for Don, that he was ready to make the change too.
“No more pushing yourself on any master, staff or slave.” He offered as a starting point. “It upsets people.” He was concerned about using the word exclusive since he himself was open to threesomes, but that was the sort of way he hoped Don would agree. “Be there friends, having a drink, help with problems.. but not threaten or push to far.”
Videos about Morality
In our post on character morality, we sought to answer basic questions about how to understand and convey a character’s morality. In the interest of thoroughness, here are some great video resources to learn more about morality.
- Sam Harris: Science can answer moral questions
- Sam Harris on “Free Will”
- Morality by QualiaSoup
- Frans de Waal: Morality Without Religion
- Frans de Waal: Moral behavior in animals
- Sam Harris and Richard Dawkins on Morality and Science
- Atheists On Religion, Science, And Morality (The Point)
- What is Morality? The Philosophical and Theological Foundations of Moral Debate 2-23-07
- Animaniacs - Wheel of Morality Compilation
- “What is Morality” by Professor Thomas Scanlon, 2013, College of Arts, University of Guelph
- Sharpton / Hitchens Debate - Can Morality Exist Without God?
- Modernity and Morality: A commentary by Fr. Barron
- ShorthandHero’s Morality Series
- BigThink: What is morality?
- BigThink: Richard Dawkins: Letting Science Inform Morality
- Introduction to Moral Philosophy Playlist by icuweb
- Nietzsche on Morality
- Kenji Yoshino: What is justice?
- Michael Walzer: What is justice?
- Re: What is justice?
- Justice with Michael Sandel
- Episode 01: “THE MORAL SIDE OF MURDER”
- Episode 02: “PUTTING A PRICE TAG ON LIFE”
- Episode 03: “FREE TO CHOOSE”
- Episode 04: “THIS LAND IS MY LAND”
- Episode 05: “HIRED GUNS”
- Episode 06: “MIND YOUR MOTIVE”
- Episode 07: “A LESSON IN LYING”
- Episode 08: “WHATS A FAIR START?”
- Episode 09: “ARGUING AFFIRMATIVE ACTION”
- Episode 10: “THE GOOD CITIZEN”
- Episode 11: “THE CLAIMS OF COMMUNITY”
- Episode 12: “DEBATING SAME-SEX MARRIAGE”
Writing Tips #83: Understanding the Trauma of Child Abuse
wistfulghost asked: I loved your Tips for Healthy Relationship/Unhealthy Relationship posts, they were very informative :) I was wondering if you could write one for an abusive parent/child relationship as well? :)
First of all, I think that many books completely mishandle child abuse. It’s usually in there just to give the main character a dynamic “back story,” but is never really for shedding a light on the effects this kind of upbringing can have on the victim. So, my advice is simply to understand the trauma of child abuse.
- Abuse is an overwhelming experience that creates fragmented states of being for the child (and for the adult survivor of childhood abuse). A person may function very capably at times after abuse, but may also revert internally to being a child who is overwhelmed, which I’ll describe as a child in a state of terror. As opposed to the capable state, a person in the terror state feels trapped, unable to benefit from his or her own cognitive skills to reflect, problem solve, or gain perspective.
- Very importantly, the fragmentation is a response to traumatic experiences that are often not remembered, not acknowledged, or not understood.
- The fragmentation, in response to unremembered experiences, places a person inside a chaotic universe of powerful and unattributed emotions/conditions, such as anger, numbness, anxiety, and depression.
- This fragmentation is a survival technique, the best a child can do to wall-off the terror of abuse. Sadly, the walled-off terror is also “preserved” in this way.
About Flat Characters.
Flat characters, as opposed to Round Characters, are characters whose personality, goals and motives remain, for the most part, unchanged throughout your story. These characters rarely undergo any character development in the course of a book and they often play supportive roles to the main character. However, as we will see below, main characters can be flat too. When you’re writing a secondary, flat character, whom doesn’t require much character development, ask yourself what is their role in the story. What would happen to your story if this character didn’t exist?
Main Characters can be flat or static too. Some great examples of flat Main Characters are Sherlock Holmes and Indiana Jones. Their goals remain the same throughout the story, and their personality doesn’t develop that much during the course of the narrative. In spite of being flat characters, they’re interesting and relatable.
Flat Characters are characters nevertheless, and they shouldn’t be neglected. While these characters’ personalities are going to stay the same during the course of your story, they need to have goals, motives and a personality of their own. They need to be believable, relatable; they need to be more than your MC’s pawns.
The reason why Secondary, Flat Characters’ personalities and goals don’t develop throughout the story is because, the main conflict does not revolve around them; it’s not their story that’s being told. You should never go against their personality or wishes for the sake of your main character’s success. If anything about them is getting in the way of your main character, maybe you need to start developing this secondary character and make it relevant too. When writing a Main, Flat Character, they don’t undergo any development because the conflict revolves around something that happens to them. If the event is more important than the way your character reacts to it, you don’t always need to show how that event affects them.
Voldemort (Harry Potter saga) is a flat character, while being one of the most important characters in all 7 books. His goals and viewpoint remain the same throughout the series of books and we don’t ever see him vacillating. However, we know a lot about Voldemort. This shows that flat characters don’t need to be irrelevant, uninteresting or even secondary. It’s all about what your characters are looking for.
To sum up, make all your characters matter, even those who aren’t very relevant to the development of your plot. These characters aren’t going to take up much of your time, as you don’t have to worry about developing them and giving them as much depth as you need to give other characters, but you can’t let them be a part of the setting. They don’t need to be pro-active and they don’t need to be too complex, but they need to have their own ideas and morals. Even flat characters can be relatable.
For further reading on Flat Characters:
Writing Criminals/ Anti-Heroes
Writing has come a long way from the classic stories of heroes and villains. Nowadays, a writer has to do more than just give their antagonist a pistol and a hat to convey that they are “bad,” and the concept of all-bad characters has been debunked altogether. There is the chance for the hero to be the underdog, or to be from the wrong side of the tracks, whilst the squeaky-clean golden boy reveals an underlying evil. This is the world of the anti-hero, and it’s fantastic. However, it can be difficult for writers to break the spell of clean-cut protagonists and dirty-rotten-scoundrel antagonists. If you want to write a compelling criminal or anti-hero, they’re going to have to have some heart.
What is the difference between an antagonist and an anti-hero?
- Typically, the anti-hero is in fact a protagonist. Rather than being the squeaky-clean Gene Autry cowboy, the anti-hero may be more of a Jean Valjean—someone who’s doing the wrong thing for the right reasons, or who has a strong moral likability despite their checkered past.
- USA Network uses the anti-hero often in their original series. For example, Mike Ross of Suits uses his photographic memory to fib his way into a job at a law firm. In the past, Mike used his talents to fraudulently take the LSATs for other students in order to finance his marijuana habit. Audiences are endeared to Mike when he comes under the tutelage of power lawyer Harvey Specter because they realize he is, at his core, just a kid from the wrong side of the tracks trying to make things right. This allows the audience to go along with his lie, rather than condemning him for it. In the end, audiences root for Mike and don’t want him to be found out. USA uses this same formula in shows like Burn Notice (about a burned spy who murders and hijacks in the interest of clearing his good name and keeping his family safe); White Collar (about a former criminal who helps the FBI catch thieves whilst fighting his own urges to forge and steal); and Psych (about a lovable loser who feigns psychic ability as he assists the police in crime solving).
- Anti-hero criminals should have a solid reason for doing what they do. Perhaps the bank robber is trying to provide for his family, or the hacker is desperate to protect the private information of others.
- Consider William Goldman’s The Princess Bride. The true villain is not Wesley, the “Dread Pirate Roberts,” or even the motley crew assembled by Vizzini. The truest villains are Humperdinck and the Six-Fingered Man, two characters presented as upstanding citizens and leaders of the kingdom. The people presented as antagonists actually have hearts of gold. Inigo is a swordsman who has likely committed many murders, but he’s really on a journey to avenge the death of his father. Fezzik is presented as a mercenary, but he’s really a lovable giant who’s been roped into a bad business by a cruel master.
- Typically, the anti-hero isn’t great at sticking to or completing their mission, but boy do they try. They are guided by conflicting morals but are often more passionate than their cookie-cutter counterparts. The chains that bind them are sometimes stronger than they are, but it is their spirit that makes them appealing.
- Often, the anti-hero is bound by something beyond their control. Maybe it’s a disability or a financial circumstance that leads them to take other routes to get what they want or need.
- The anti-hero is not always openly tragic. Sometimes, they can be very smooth and charming. Consider the men of the Oceans 11 films, who make robbing a casino look like a boys’ night out. Obviously, they are breaking the law, but they make it look like fun. They aren’t good enough to be the pure-hearted protagonists, but the tables are turned so you’re rooting for them over the clumsy security working the casino. Any time you’re rooting for the villain over the cops, you know you’re reading or watching a solid anti-hero at work.
Here are links to help you on your way.
Writing the 'Dumb' Character
Anonymous asked you:
This is a really dumb question, but how do you write a really dumb character without coming off as an incompetent writer? I know so many stupid people who seem to have toppled out of MTV, and I think writing a dense character would be fun and kind of refreshing, but I don’t want to make it look like I’m just shit at character development. Are there any examples of intellectually lacking characters done right?
Firstly, there is no such thing as a really dumb question. Secondly, by saying that you know these types of people in real life, that writing one would be fun and refreshing, you’ve already proven that you’ve got what it takes to write one.
However, I have to stop you at your concern about character development. See, a character with very little going on upstairs doesn’t have to have very little going on in the background. Intelligence and depth of character aren’t the same thing. I would first encourage you to think of your character as a real person and write them a back story, or fill out a character questionnaire such as this one from yeahwriters.
Consider whether you want your character to be static or dynamic. That is, do they change throughout, or do they stay the same? If they stay the same, they can just be the bubble headed sidekick. If you want them to change, they may have to wise up along the way.
Here are some examples of fun flakes…
- Cher Horowitz, Clueless (dynamic)
- Buzz McNab, Psych (static)
- Karen Smith, Mean Girls (static/dynamic depending on who you ask)
- Patrick, Spongebob (static)
- Jenna Maroney, 30 Rock (static)
- Dahlia Royce, Suburgatory (dynamic)
- Spike, Notting Hill (static)
Of course, who could forget the not-so-fun flakes, the people like Daisy Buchanan, who are only pretending to be stupid to shirk responsibility for their actions? I would also like to issue a friendly reminder that the lovable dummy can also quickly turn into the dreaded Mary Sue/Gary Stu. Be careful to balance out likeability reward with consequences of actions/realistic behavior.
Like I said before, you seem to know these people and I’m confident you’ll know how to write a dynamic one when the time comes. Best of luck!
Writing Tips #73: Top Ten Tips to Create a Character Arc
Just as in real life, characters on a page change and develop throughout your story. This is natural and should happen. You can write a story without any character development, but those types of stories are usually noted just for that reason – a character’s refusal or inability to learn or respond to the events around them.
Don’t let your character drift around in this developmental arc. Plan your character’s growth and reactions with events, interaction with other characters, and from inner turmoil or conflict. Often characters are at war with themselves or their beliefs, and this can affect their overall character change.
Use these 10 tips to keep your character arc on track for believable development.
1. Who Is the Character at the Beginning?
Decide who your character is and why they need to change. In the Christmas favorite A Christmas Carol, Scrooge changes from a cantankerous, heartless man into a caring and generous one. Think of Dr. Seuss’s Grinch.
2. Inner Demons
Secrets your character hides can be a driving force in who they are. Denial can keep your character falsely happy and guilt can haunt your character into madness. This was one of Shakespeare’s favorite devices.
3. Perception of Self
Your character’s self-image may be their worst enemy. Something your character sees as a fault may be exaggerated or may not exist at all. A character thinking they’re too fat, too ugly, stupid, or even superior to others are perceptions that can be changed or altered within the storyline. In the play and movie The Seven Year Itch, a pulp fiction editor sees himself as a skirt-chasing fiend trying to corner the blonde from upstairs – but he’s not. His fantasy life is exaggerated in his mind and has invaded when his wife and child are away for the summer.
4. Show the Character Changing
Give the reader the eyewitness view of the character changing. Show the obstacles overcome, the decisions made, the failures and wins. It doesn’t always have to be pretty.
Questonnaires master post.
I will update this from time to time. When I find more. None of these were made by me. I just found them and put them in one place. Some of them are probably a little repetitive and if any of the links are broken, feel free to let me know.
- in depth survey
- character interview
- character development questions for writers
- 30 character questions
- the mother of all character questionnaires
- character questionnaire
- character questionnaire one
- character questionnaire two
- twenty-nine character survey questions
- character outline
- adult character questionnaire
- child character questionnaire
- additional questions for the character questionnaire
- character chart for fiction writers
- character survey
- character questionnaires
- characterization questionnaires
- character questionnaire
- character profile
CHARACTER and ROLE ANALYSIS QUESTIONS
So, I was on the hunt for a good character development questionnaire and I found this. It was in a document made available to Theatre students, but these are some of the best questions I’ve seen with regards to character analysis. The source is listed.