• Stacy Dawn

Common Mistakes in Creating Characters

Today I just want to touch on a few things you don’t want your characters to be:

1) Stereotypical

Too predictable or clichéd--think strong, manly cowboy drawling all his words, scuffing his boots through the dirt with a bow-legged walk, and calling every woman he meets “darlin’.” Don’t fall into the trap of making your characters sound like a bad movie. It’s okay to use bits and pieces of known characteristics, but make sure you keep your characters unique with something different to personalize them and help them stand out.

2) Flat

No one likes a blah/boring character. Actions and dialogue make characters who they are, so make sure you’re including strong verbs, movement, quirks, and descriptions specifically related to your characters in order to bring them to life.

3) “Too stupid to live”

A common phrase used to describe characters constantly falling into predictable trouble and making inevitably wrong—and usually silly/ridiculous—choices. These characters are those with no validation for their actions, such as falling into a hole out of nowhere and needing to be saved over and over, a long lost, never heard of before past love or enemy showing up out of the blue mid-story, characters engaging in a constant reign of miscommunication that could have easily been remedied by one face to face conversation in the very first chapter. Wanting to have creative or wacky events in your manuscript can be fun and unique, simply make sure your characters have purpose and follow a thought process or action sequence that is rooted to some form of validation woven throughout.

4) Too perfect

It is more often the flaws that endear a character to the reader more so than the heroics. No one in this world is perfect. EVERYONE has flaws and that's okay. It makes us…human. These flaws, though, can also help create unique aspects to the conflicts in a manuscript, and as noted, flaws are what makes your characters relatable to your readers. And this relatability is what draws a reader to your characters, to your voice, to your books over and over and over again.

So, just a little reminder that as you are self-editing your story, don't just focus on spelling and grammar and big plot points but also each character's validity, strength, and maybe a pirate cow :)

Peace, joy, and creativity,