Captain America's 10-Step Guide to a Likable Hero

Captain America’s 10-Step Guide to Writing a Likable Hero

Make me like your characters, and I will follow them to the center of the earth. I will fight with them in the trenches. I will slog through bogs, brave tsunamis, and face down volcanoes for them. If I like your characters, I won’t just read your book, I’ll ache when it’s over, buy it […]

The Benefits of a Clueless Character

Often, authors enjoy writing about characters who are larger than life. We write about the kind of people we wish we could be: strong, beautiful, smart—particularly smart. We like our characters to be in the know and always one step ahead of the bad guy. But, in some stories, the most useful kind of protagonist […]

Fast and Easy Guide to Writing Characters of the Opposite Gender

Very few authors can get through even one story without writing about a character of the opposite gender. The interaction between the sexes is vital in fiction, just as it is in life. If nothing else, it’s a sure solution for creating conflict. But writing a character of the opposite sex can be tricky, as […]

Why Nice Characters Equal No Conflict

In life, we often think of likable people as nice people. But, in fiction, that’s not quite how it works. In fiction, nice characters are conflict-sucking vampires out to sap your story’s life’s blood and leave it pale and limp in your reader’s hands. Ouch, huh? Naturally, we’d like most of our characters to be […]

Can Your Heroine Be Too Strong?

Simpering misses and damsels in distress seem to be out of fashion these days. Rarely do I pick up a book and read about a heroine who is sickly, pale, and teary-eyed all the time. Instead, strong female leads—some magical mixture of Lara Croft, Mother Teresa, and Maya Angelou—populate our fiction. While I’m all for […]

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The Perils of a Passive Protagonist

The pitfall of a passive protagonist is easier to fall into than writers might sometimes think. Whether your book is a high-speed espionage thriller or a cozy romance, the fuel that makes it run is action. Something is happening to your protagonist—presumably the something of his life (because if not, why tell this story?). And […]

Has Your Protagonist Changed? Prove It!

Personal transformations are always at the heart of strong character arcs. Our protagonists are faced with trials that force them to acknowledge their own inadequacies and then, usually, change their ways in a manner that allows them to overcome both their faults and, as a result, the bad guy. This moment of personal revelation and […]

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Why You Should Spend More Time on Character Development Than Action

Authors sometimes feel pressured to dive right into the action of their stories—at the expense of important character development. Because the last thing we want to do is write a boring story, we sometimes overreact by piling on explosions, fight sequences, and high-speed car chases to the point we’re unable to spend important time developing […]

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3 Traits Your Hero and Villain Should Share

When we think of good guys and bad guys, we think of people who are diametrically opposed to one another. Yet the best kind of story is usually one that features a hero and villain who share more in common than not. In fact, the more similar your hero and villain, the stronger your story, […]

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Should You Write Characters With Unlikable Traits?

Writers often discuss the importance of presenting realistic characters with unlikable traits as well as likable traits. But sometimes putting this principle into practice is more easily said than done. When in the thick of writing first drafts and forming characters on the page, writers can sometimes get so caught up in ensuring readers will […]