WriterDojo S1:Ep7 – Building Characters

This week Steve and I talk about how to write interesting characters and some traps to avoid. Character creation is a huge topic, and writing good characters is one of the most important keys to being successful as an author, so it is a topic we will be visiting many times, from a lot of different angles.

So please mash the reviews and subscribe the likes, or whatever all that podcasty stuff is. And if you are enjoying WriterDojo, please tell your friends. Our mission is to counteract all the crappy woke writer advice out there that’s trying to suck the fun out of fiction.

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State of the Swag Address 2021
People really don't understand how audits work, and the media likes it that way

6 thoughts on “WriterDojo S1:Ep7 – Building Characters”

  1. I was amused by the comments about how hard it is to do spreadsheets one-handed. I broke my right wrist in July and had a week of trying to work left-handed while I still had the monstrosity of a temporary cast on my right arm.

    I learned that not only can I not type or mouse left-handed, I also have problems *thinking* without both hands.

  2. Larry & Steve, To listen to your first episode, I tried Breaker and liked it. Because this episode did not include a link to Breaker, I had to page back to Episode 5 – Idea Management to get a link to Breaker. Will you please include a link to Breaker for each new episode?

  3. Good stuff as always. I liked the addition of the last part about how you developed Gun Runner in the opposite manner of the other few examples- building plot with generic archetypes then building characters to make the plot work and improve the overall story.

  4. The Superman example is very apt. As someone who particularly likes the character, I find that he’s a good example of how the same character premise can be either great or awful depending on the approach.

    Many writers focus excessively on the powers, and forget the character himself. You can’t boil a character down to just “what can he do?” and not consider his personality: why does he live the way he does, what connections does he have with other people, what things are difficult for him? With a character who is physically unstoppable, you can’t tell a compelling story based purely on physical threats — but you CAN tell a good story by examining him on a personal level. The best Superman stories do a couple of things: place him firstly as Clark, which is the identity he views himself as, therefore making it feasible to examine his personality and motivations; and give him challenges where he has to make meaningful decisions or use his intelligence to figure out the solution. Otherwise, you end up with a stale, static character who never learns, never grows, and is too perfect to be relatable.

    Now, extrapolate and apply that to non-superhuman characters. Give your characters depth and room to grow. Don’t just have them face the same types of challenges as before, and don’t make it too easy on them.

  5. People who complain Superman is boring forget that he’s not just a boy scout who’s super strong, super tough flies etc., he’s a TRICKSTER, even post-Silver Age. He fights threats he can’t beat up (either because they’re tougher than him like The Authority, or it’s not in front of him like Million-Dollar Marvin) by tricking them. There’s a reason Mxyzptlk is part of his rogues gallery and not Batman’s, and it’s not just “he’s a relic of the silver age” (Even The Flash would find him somewhat out of place).

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