Ten mistakes to avoid when building your main character
The main character (MC) of a novel is the one single most important thing about your story. The truth is that if the reader can relate and empathize with your MC they will keep reading, they will want to know what happens next.
So, how do you build the perfect imperfect MC?You got it. MCs need to be well rounded, faulty, exceptional for better or worse…just like us.
1-MCs are not perfect! They make mistakes, have thoughts they shouldn’t and do things that should not be done
2-Don’t make it obvious your MC is making a mistake! MCs are not dumb. Just like you and me, when they make a mistake they think it’s their best option
3-Don’t change the feelings of your MC suddenly, just to drive the story forward. When you describe the emotional process within your MC you are really growing and cultivating feelings within the reader. Didn’y you feel mad when your favorite assassin in a quite famous YA series suddenly dropped the romantic interest the author had been growing for a whole book? Yeah, me too.
4-Be consistent with slang and linguistic affectations. Have you ever noticed how a friend of yours says totally all the time? Or like? Or bazinga? It does not matter what it is, what matters is that your linguistic weirdness does not permeate the speech of all of your characters. Different characters will have different affectations. Don’t overdo it!
5-Don’t make your MS gorgeous in a stereotypical way. It’s harder to relate to MCs who look perfect since most of us don’t, at least according to TV standards.We all have a charm the way we are, so rather than promote this idea of the superhuman as the only lovable option, make your MC unique and have them shine the way they are! Support your readers!
6-Don’t make your MC whine all the time. Yes, as MCs they are bound to go through some really hard times, but like in real life, no one likes a whiner. We all have meltdowns and that is fine, but don’t let your MC stuck in time, wallowing over their grief. If you do because it is integral to your story (for example you might be writing about death, rape and such) add a touch of humor. Most survivors develop a dark sense of humor. See for reference Jandy Nelson’s books.
7-Don’t have your MCs make the same mistakes over and over again! It becomes annoying and boring.
8-Don’t create conflict all the time through miscommunication. It gets old too. Simple conflicts that could be resolved by talking about it only get you that far.
9-Don’t have your MC be a stereotype! No one is a stereotype! A stereotype is at best the average of what the majority looks like. At worst is the racist interpretation of what you think someone is like, based on ignorance. If you want your MC to be a specific race, sexual orientation, religion, etc… make sure you do your research on yourself or someone else. Talk to friends who share the trait you are interested in delving in to make sure your character is accurate yet unique. If you have no friends and no direct experience about whatever trait you want to talk about, guess what? You probably shouldn’t.
10-Love your MC with all of their faults. To write a great MC you have to come to accept that you are not perfect and that’s okay. Only if you manage to embrace the way you are you can come to describe MCs who are unique, believable and relatable.
So I’ve been doing alittle bit of playing around between commissions. This big goofy pooch developed from a gorgeous character I adopted from YuchiCoyote a while back (see below character ref). I made a few minor adjustments to the markings but overall they’re the same. I fell in love with this color scheme and I was happy to adopt her!
They are one of those dogs that live in a dog’s world with a somewhat human life, kindof like ADGTH? They love to wear human clothes even if they don’t fit very well. They also love to be creative and paints with their tail. Tail always has a different color residue leftover on the tip. I was originally going to have them be a female character but their design could go either direction, so I’m leaving genderless for now…or for good? Who knows! For now this works.
Yes, even Betsy can have a hipster sparkledog character. DON’T STOP BELIEVING!
If you haven’t checked out Yuchi’s cute art DO IT NOW!
My main project at the moment. I’ve already written the whole story out and I’ve started on the page thumbnails. My ghost children comprising of a vessel/medium, a witch, a werewolf, a clairvoyant, and a vampire. I luv my ghost children
It was a cold Sunday in New York City. September, 1946. Jack walked down the rows and rows of graves in the cemetery. He was sluggish, but he promised he would get out of bed that morning to come and see Johnathan, no matter how depressed he felt. He finally found the one he was looking for.
Johnathan was his lover, they were open about that fact in a very closed-minded society at the time. He had met Johnathan at the book store. He first laid eyes on this outspoken and proud young man and instantly fell. It was the first time Jack had actually felt love in his entire life.They built a life together, even as everyone tried to bring it down. Jack was genuinely happy with Johnathan. And all that turned to shit after the murder of his partner.
It was right after Jack came clean about the monster he was. How he was a vampire and fed on humans. Johnathan ran, he ran as fast as he could, but could you blame the poor boy? He was scared, and wasn’t looking back, that is, until he ran into a group of young men at his home. By the time Jack found him, he was already gone, lying in a puddle of his own blood. The vampire was too heartbroken to even acknowledge the blood and just sat there for about an hour, cradling the young man in his arms, tears falling freely. He wanted to get revenge, oh how he wanted to rip their throats out. But it wasn’t what Johnathan would have wanted. So he didn’t. He buried his love and tried to carry on. But he couldn’t.
Jack fell into a deep pit of depression, letting himself go without feeding for days or weeks at a time. He couldn’t get out of bed. It took him a while, but he finally went to see John at his grave on the one month anniversary of his death.
The black haired vampire placed the flowers he bought down at the foot of the gravestone and smoothed his hair back. He sat down cross-legged on the dirt and stared at the stone.
“I knew this was going to happen…” Jack started after a long silence. “You were always going to die before me. But not like this. Fuck, never like this. I knew it was going to happen because I didn’t have the heart to do this to you. I loved you too much to. We could have had forever, eh? But I was too damn stubborn to change you.” He gave a hollow chuckle. There was a literal pain in his chest, like his actual heart was missing. There was a void inside him he couldn’t fill and it felt like it was killing him. “I..” His voice cracked as a tear slid down his cheek. “I just miss you so damn much, Johnny… But I-I can’t keep living like this… Everything hurts… I know you’re looking down on me, watching me from above and all that, but I need you to look away now. You’re not going to like what you see.”
Jack took a deep breath, closed his eyes, wiped his cheeks, and turned his humanity off like a light switch.
Just like that, everything stopped hurting. He could finally breathe again, like a weight was lifted off his chest and he was free.
Two days later every boy involved in the murder of his love was found dismembered with their blood drained. And Jack never felt better.
How a Character’s Choice of Clothing Benefits the Story
When writing, it’s
important that everything you include serves a purpose. The character’s name, their
favorite color, and their choice of companion give an impression about the character,
the world around them, and the past that shaped who they are. The more you amplify
these elements, the greater the image you’re painting for the reader.
For example, say the plot
calls for the character to buy a car, and they choose a blue one. “Blue” is a
necessary detail to include in the narrative, but by giving this specific
decision meaning, you make it important. Perhaps blue was their parent’s
favorite color, and they strive to please them. Perhaps blue is a calming
color, and it reflects their calm personality. This makes the narrative richer.
In the same way, characters
need clothing, so why not make it a useful element in the story? Take advantage
of this opportunity to tell the reader something. Here are three things your character’s
choice of clothing can amplify in the story.
It Says Something About Their Personality: The way a character dresses
can reflect their tastes, views, and emotions. For example, your boisterous
character might be best dressed in colorful shorty shorts to reflect her free
spirit. Her sass and disregard for other’s opinions is what tells us her
personality, but this small addition has made the fact visual as well as mental.
In another case, your reserved and slightly distrustful character might be
better dressed in a bulky designer coat; this reflects on his desire to be
enclosed but also regarded as superior. Your character’s personality is
independent, but the proper clothing can complement and amplify their unique views.
It Says Something About The Setting: Dressing your characters in
clothing that reflects their setting will reinforce this new atmosphere in the
reader’s mind. Colors give impressions all on their own; dark colors such as
greys or blacks will match the dark atmospheres. If you’re trying to show a
contrast between two groups – one more successful and the other starving – dressing
one group in bright pinks or yellows will give a sense of light and energy, making
them seem healthier. The style also reflects the world; conservative dress such
as long sleeves or coats can reflect order or oppression, while less conservative
clothing can show rebellion and freedom. Your world itself will determine the
setting, but clothing can complement it, amplifying the atmosphere.
It Can Say Something About Them Physically: In addition to symbolism,
clothing can serve a literal purpose. If you have a young character, dressing
them in outfits which are colorful and airy can complement their younger
attitudes. If you have a character with an embarrassing scar or injury they
wish to hide, constantly dressing them in long sleeves, despite weather, can
subtly reveal this. These details can amplify the characters themselves but
also open new doors for foreshadowing.
Every detail included in
your piece of fiction should serve a purpose, and perhaps even tell a story
within a story. Minor details such as a character’s style, their choice of
design, or their choice of color can breathe new life into the details of your
Over the course of the next
few weeks, I’ll post different character clothing options as inspiration, and detail
how each item could be an asset to your story. Hopefully this will stir up some
creative juices and help you make choices to apply to your cast.
A lot of writers might argue that romance in YA lit is a
boring old trope that needs to die. If you’re into reading YA lit, it’s been
nearly impossible for you to avoid the “she was a normal girl until she met
[insert cool boy character]”, but I’m here to argue that romance and love
triangles aren’t necessarily the problem in young adult novels. The problem is
when the main character completely loses all of their power and motivation when
romance is introduced to the story. When it’s done right, the story can be
captivating and realistic.
Here are a few reasons
why you shouldn’t be afraid to include romance in your novel:
Many of us have had
Most of us, starting at a young age, have had a fondness for
someone and may have possible done something foolish because of those feelings.
We can’t pretend like we’ve never had these feelings or they don’t exist for
many people. Even if we weren’t in love, those feelings were probably very
strong for a lot of people.
You can still build
Having two characters fall in love does not mean your
characters are weak. You can still build strong characters will believable/understandable
motives and they can still be extremely relatable. The romance doesn’t have to
be the main focus. The main character shouldn’t lose themselves or become
weaker because of their romantic relationships (unless that is the point of the
We do a lot of things
Love can sometimes be the main motivating factor for our
actions. We tend to do a lot of things in the name of love, whether these
decisions were smart or not.
Exploring both romantic and platonic relationships with
others can be important to your novel. As people, we tend to care about and
love family, friends, partners, etc. This can be a natural part of our lives,
so it’s not the worst idea to explore it.
Here’s how to do it
Build your characters
Each character should be someone separate from the
relationship they’re in. Two characters can fall in love, but they should be
more than that relationship. Explore who they are separately and what makes
them different/similar. Does the relationship make them stronger? Does it make
them weaker? Does it affect your story at all?
You don’t have to
make romance the main focus
Romance and love does not have to be the main focus,
depending on your novel. Take some time to think about what that relationship
means in your story. What else is going on? Is it a sub-plot or is it the main
Love triangles: make
the decision hard
Love triangles become pointless when you can easily spot the
better choice. You should have as much trouble as the main character does when
choosing sides. I think the Hunger Games does this very well, because both Gale
and Peeta are good options for Katniss and both represent different things. Her
relationship with both of them does not make Katniss any weaker as a character.
She is motivated by her desire to protect those she loves, which is what makes
her relatable and honorable.
Figure out wants and
Each character should have wants and needs separate from the
romance. There should be a story beyond the relationships formed. You should be
able to build your character and really get to know who they are on their own.
Otherwise, it can all feel very contrived.
Ultimately, I don’t think you should cut something you
really feel is important/integral to your story because people say it’s overdone.
Just avoid talking down to your readers and treat your characters with respect.
I like how in cold as you taylor says “what a rainy ending given to a perfect day” and the rain represents sadness and misery but in clean, taylor uses rain to describe herself letting go of the past and cleansing herself. it’s like she took what used to tear her down and used it to become stronger and new
I’ve received a lot of questions about writing a large cast
of characters, so let’s get started! I love stories with a big main cast and it
can be a difficult thing to pull off correctly. Here are a few ways to make
sure your characters don’t get lost in the mix.
Some writers can work on a story without an outline, but I
find it nearly impossible with a large cast of characters. You need to find a
way to keep track of all your characters and make notes about what you need to
remember about them.
Try filling out individual character sheets for each main
character. This isn’t always necessary for smaller characters, but it helps to
understand who each of them are and what they want.
Everyone should serve
Every single character should have a motivation. Every
single character should have an impact on your story or serve some purpose. If
they don’t, consider cutting them from your story. Think about how each character will help
shape the plot and how their involvement will help lead the story. Some
characters will have more impact than others, but really getting to know your
characters is important.
It helps to really make each character different. Similar names
and physical character descriptions can confuse your readers and they might
have trouble keeping track. Diversity is key, which should be the case in every
story. Take some time to shape your characters and understand what makes them
Give gentle reminders
It’s not a bad idea to remind your readers about your
characters from time to time. Find natural ways to reintroduce a character that
you haven’t seen in a while because there’s a big chance your readers might
forget certain details. You don’t have to constantly be hitting them over the
head with these details, but a refresher is nice from time to time. If you have
to check your notes to remember something, chances are your readers will need
to flip back too.