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On creating a Main Character that feels real

On creating a Main Character that feels real.

What makes a character real? What makes them stand out from all the other 2 dimensional made up people out there in film, TV and books?

I actually don’t think there is a definite answer to that. But before you say, well why are we talking about it then, I want to add that it is possible to create a character that you can relate to. A character that deals with the same problems. That feels the same way. Or even acts like you, the reader, does.

Before I start drafting, I usually have a fair idea of who my main players are. I ask myself what they like, what are they afraid of, and most importantly, what are their flaws. Flaws are what make us human. No one is perfect. And if you are, then you are the main character of a sci-fi, possibly a robot, and I want to know the answer to life 😉

To help you with that, I have a handy list! (Obviously. When do I not have a list). This is just a few of MANY. But somewhere to start. And flaws aren’t always black and white. Once you start with one or two of these, your character will expand from there. Everyone deals differently. It’s how they react, given their flaws, that makes them relatable.

  • Absent-minded – Preoccupied to the extent of being unaware of one’s immediate surroundings. Abstracted, daydreaming, inattentive, oblivious, forgetful.
  • Anxious – Full of mental distress or uneasiness because of fear of danger or misfortune; greatly worried; solicitous.
  • Arrogant – Having or displaying a sense of overbearing self-worth or self-importance. Inclined to social exclusiveness and who rebuff the advances of people considered inferior. Snobbish.
  • Audacious – Recklessly bold in defiance of convention, propriety, law, or the like; insolent; braze, disobedient.
  • Bigmouth – A loud-mouthed or gossipy person.
  • Bigot – One who is strongly partial to one’s own group, religion, race, or politics and is intolerant of those who differ.
  • Blunt – Characterized by directness in manner or speech; without subtlety or evasion. Frank, callous, insensitive, brusque.
  • Bold – In a bad sense, too forward; taking undue liberties; over assuming or confident; lacking proper modesty or restraint; rude; impudent. Abrupt, brazen, cheeky, brassy, audacious.
  • Callous – They are hardened to emotions, rarely showing any form of it in expression. Unfeeling. Cold.
  • Complex – An exaggerated or obsessive concern or fear. (List specific complex.)
  • Cruel – Mean to anyone or anything, without care or regard to consequences and feelings.
  • Cursed – A person who has befallen a prayer for evil or misfortune, placed under a spell, or borne into an evil circumstance, and suffers for it. Damned.
  • Dependent – Unable to exist, sustain oneself, or act appropriately or normally without the assistance or direction of another.
  • Deranged – Mentally decayed. Insane. Crazy. Mad. Psychotic.
  • Dishonest – Given to or using fraud, cheating; deceitful, deceptive, crooked, underhanded.
  • Disorder – An ailment that affects the function of mind or body. (List the disorders name if they have one.) See the Mental Disorder List.
  • Disturbed – Showing some or a few signs or symptoms of mental or emotional illness. Confused, disordered, neurotic, troubled.
  • Dubious – Fraught with uncertainty or doubt. Undecided, doubtful, unsure.
  • Egotistical – Characteristic of those having an inflated idea of their own importance. Boastful, pompous.
  • Envious – Showing extreme cupidity; painfully desirous of another’s advantages; covetous, jealous.
  • Erratic – Deviating from the customary course in conduct or opinion; eccentric: erratic behaviour. Eccentric, bizarre, outlandish, strange.
  • Fickle – Erratic, changeable, unstable – especially with regard to affections or attachments; capricious.
  • Fierce – Marked by extreme intensity of emotions or convictions; inclined to react violently; fervid.
  • Finicky – Excessively particular or fastidious; difficult to please; fussy. Too much concerned with detail. Meticulous, fastidious, choosy, critical, picky, prissy, pernickety.
  • Fixated – In psychoanalytic theory, a strong attachment to a person or thing, especially such an attachment formed in childhood or infancy and manifested in immature or neurotic behaviour that persists throughout life. Fetish, quirk, obsession, infatuation.
  • Gullible – Will believe any information given, regardless of how valid or truthful it is, easily deceived or duped.
  • Hard – A person who is difficult to deal with, manage, control, overcome, or understand. Hard emotions, hard hearted.
  • Humourless – The inability to find humour in things, and most certainly in themselves.
  • Ignorant – Lacking knowledge or information as to a particular subject or fact. Showing or arising from a lack of education or knowledge.
  • Immature – Emotionally undeveloped; juvenile; childish.
  • Impatient – Unable to wait patiently or tolerate delay; restless. Unable to endure irritation or opposition; intolerant.
  • Indecisive – Characterized by lack of decision and firmness, especially under pressure.
  • Indifferent – The trait of lacking enthusiasm for or interest in things generally, remaining calm and seeming not to care; a casual lack of concern. Having or showing little or no interest in anything; languid; spiritless.
  • Intolerant – Unwilling to tolerate difference of opinion and narrow-minded about cherished opinions.
  • Judgemental – Inclined to make and form judgements, especially moral or personal ones, based on one’s own opinions or impressions towards others/practices/groups/religions based on appearance, reputation, occupation, etc.
  • Lazy – Resistant to work or exertion; disposed to idleness.
  • Lewd – Inclined to, characterized by, or inciting to lust or lechery; lascivious. Obscene or indecent, as language or songs; salacious.
  • Liar – Compulsively and purposefully tells false truths more often than not. A person who has lied or who lies repeatedly.
  • Masochist – The deriving of sexual gratification, or the tendency to derive sexual gratification, from being physically or emotionally abused. A willingness or tendency to subject oneself to unpleasant or trying experiences.
  • Meddlesome – Intrusive in a meddling or offensive manner, given to meddling; interfering.
  • Meek – Evidencing little spirit or courage; overly submissive or compliant; humble in spirit or manner; suggesting retiring mildness or even cowed submissiveness.
  • Megalomaniac – A psycho pathological condition characterized by delusional fantasies of wealth, power, or omnipotence.
  • Naïve – Lacking worldly experience and understanding, simple and guileless; showing or characterized by a lack of sophistication and critical judgement.
  • Nervous – Easily agitated or distressed; high-strung or jumpy.
  • Nosey – Given to prying into the affairs of others; snoopy. Offensively curious or inquisitive.
  • Obsessive – An unhealthy and compulsive preoccupation with something or someone.
  • Overconfident – Excessively confident; presumptuous.
  • Overemotional – Excessively or abnormally emotional. Sensitive about themselves and others, more so than the average person.
  • Overprotective – To protect too much; coddle.
  • Overzealous – Marked by excessive enthusiasm for and intense devotion to a cause or idea.
  • Paranoid – Exhibiting or characterized by extreme and irrational fear or distrust of others.
  • Perfectionist – A propensity for being displeased with anything that is not perfect or does not meet extremely high standards.
  • Pessimist – A tendency to stress the negative or unfavourable or to take the gloomiest possible view.
  • Practical – Level-headed, efficient, and unspeculative. No-nonsense.
  • Predictable – Easily seen through and assessable, where almost anyone can predict reactions and actions of said person by having met or known them even for a short time.
  • Proud – Filled with or showing excessive self-esteem and will often shirk help from others for the sake of pride.
  • Rebellious – Defying or resisting some established authority, government, or tradition; insubordinate; inclined to rebel.
  • Reckless – Heedless. Headstrong. Foolhardy. Unthinking boldness, wild carelessness and disregard for consequences.
  • Remorseless – Without remorse; merciless; pitiless; relentless.
  • Rigorous – Rigidly accurate; allowing no deviation from a standard; demanding strict attention to rules and procedures.
  • Selfish – Concerned chiefly or only with oneself.
  • Self-Martyr – One who purposely makes a great show of suffering in order to arouse sympathy from others, as a form of manipulation, and always for a selfish cause or reason.
  • Self-righteous – Piously sure of one’s own righteousness; moralistic. Exhibiting pious self-assurance. Holier-than-thou, sanctimonious.
  • Senile – Showing a decline or deterioration of physical strength or mental functioning, esp. short-term memory and alertness, as a result of old age or disease.
  • Shallow – Lacking depth of intellect or knowledge; concerned only with what is obvious.
  • Soft-hearted – Having softness or tenderness of heart that can lead them into trouble; susceptible of pity or other kindly affection. They cannot resist helping someone they see in trouble, suffering or in need, and often don’t think of the repercussions or situation before doing so.
  • Spineless – Lacking courage. Cowardly, wimp, lily-livered, gutless.
  • Spiteful – Showing malicious ill will and a desire to hurt; motivated by spite; vindictive person who will look for occasions for resentment. Vengeful.
  • Spoiled – Treated with excessive indulgence and pampering from earliest childhood, and has no notion of hard work, self-care or money management; coddled, pampered. Having the character or disposition harmed by pampering or over-solicitous attention.
  • Squeamish – Excessively fastidious and easily disgusted.
  • Stubborn – Unreasonably, often perversely unyielding; bull-headed. Firmly resolved or determined; resolute.
  • Superstitious – An irrational belief arising from ignorance or fear from an irrational belief that an object, action, or circumstance not logically related to a course of events influences its outcome.
  • Tactless – Lacking or showing a lack of what is fitting and considerate in dealing with others.
  • Theatrical – Having a flair for over dramatizing situations, doing things in a ‘big way’ and love to be ‘centre stage’.
  • Timid -Tends to be shy and/or quiet, shrinking away from offering opinions or from strangers and newcomers, fearing confrontations and violence.
  • Tongue-tied – Speechless or confused in expression, as from shyness, embarrassment, or astonishment.
  • Troublemaker – Someone who deliberately stirs up trouble, intentionally or unintentionally.
  • Unlucky – Marked by or causing misfortune; ill-fated. Destined for misfortune; doomed.
  • Unpredictable – Difficult to foretell or foresee, their actions are so chaotic it’s impossible to know what they are going to do next.
  • Untrustworthy – Not worthy of trust or belief. Backstabber.
  • Vain – Holding or characterized by an unduly high opinion of their physical appearance. Lovers of themselves. Conceited, egotistic, narcissistic.
  • Weak-willed – Lacking willpower, strength of will to carry out one’s decisions, wishes, or plans. Easily swayed.
  • Withdrawn – Not friendly or Sociable. Aloof.

It’s not just your main characters that need these flaws. Every single person you create–be they the friend, or even the baker who showed up for one line–they all need a flaw. Just because you never get to know the baker, does not mean you, as the writer, do not need to give him/her depth. The trick to a well-rounded cast is treating everyone as the main character, but keeping all their little details to yourself. Trust me, what you know of them will reflect in that one line they appear for.

That’s all for this month. I’m too exited about release day to properly concentrate 🙂 Next Month I’ll move into how to keep yourself going during Draft Zero.

Thanks for reading! xx

 

**Disclaimer–what works for me won’t necessarily work for you. Every writer is different, and that’s okay, otherwise we’d all be telling the same boring story**

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