As a post request, someone asked me what character types
should be used more often. While I think
diversity is severely lacking in YA fiction, I decided to focus more on
character types that can fit all different characters—regardless of their
gender, sex, ethnicity, sexuality, etc. It always helps to think about your
character in a variety of different ways before you make any final decisions. I
like to ask myself “what if this character did this” or “what if I changed this
about my character”. Thinking about your character in different number of ways
will help you pin down what makes them interesting and will compel you switch
it up a bit.
Here are a few
character types I’d like to see more often:
Silent, but assertive
A strong female protagonist, or any protagonist really, is
often associated only with physical strength. Many writers believe that making
a female character more masculine is all you have to do to build a good
protagonist. This is something I’d like to see changed. In Pacific Rim, Mako
Mori proves that your silence can make you stronger. Not every hero needs to be
an extrovert; introverts can be just as powerful.
While Mako is also physically strong, she is obedient and
puts others before her own happiness. Her silence actually strengthens her because
when she does act it makes her that much more powerful. She understands that
she can learn from those who came before her and doesn’t feel the need to be
the loudest and most powerful in the room.
We often associate strong protagonists will their ability to
understand how dark the world can be, but there’s something so refreshing about
the Leslie Knopes in fiction. There’s no reason a strong female character can’t
be an enthusiastic dreamer and still be able to stand on her own two feet.
Sure, there are times when characters like Leslie Knope get
sad about things and realize there’s a time and a place to give up on certain
dreams and ideas, but her enthusiasm inspires those around her. Her friends
rally with her and give her the support she needs. I’d like to see more of
these characters and let readers know that it’s okay to feel strongly about something
and to be a bit of a nerd about it.
Mary Sues with depth
I know a lot of people don’t like the term Mary Sue anymore
because there’s so much more to it than just creating a perfect character. I
think it’s bad when anyone creates any sort of flawless character because it
makes them boring and we don’t get to see them struggle in any way. I think it’s
a problem when the protagonist is overshadowed by the supporting characters
that do all the work.
I have no problem with Mary Sues with depth. If a character
is a perfectionist, there’s nothing wrong with that. If they’re good at what they
do, there’s nothing wrong with that either. I do think, however, it’s important
to add more to that character. They need to have flaws, they need to fail
sometimes, AND they need to solve problems on their own.
Antagonists that can
I often find myself bored by antagonists that aren’t strong
enough. I think it’s important for writers to realize that antagonists are only
threatening when the audience really believes they can succeed. We need to see
them win from time to time. We need to see them startle our heroes and actually
make them think about what would happen if the antagonist won.
When an antagonist is weak and underdeveloped, you’ll
immediately have a weak story. Think about what they want and remember that
most antagonists think they’re the hero. Not many people are evil for the sake
of being evil. Develop them just as much as you’d develop your antagonist.
Think of them as different sides of a coin.
This is just my list
of what I’d want to see, not something you need to agree with. Feel free to add
your own and I can build a bigger post!