Jun 05 2008

Creating Interesting Characters: Characterization by Trait

Published by at 8:08 am under Character Development,Writing Articles

This article will help you create and develop characters.

Some authors brainstorm and plot characters by using lengthy character questionnaires. That is generally a mistake because answering questions like “what car does he drive?” probably won’t give you interesting insights into the character or the role he will play in your story. At best, you’re answering a string of barely relevant questions based on the unsettled character concept you had in mind when you started the questionnaire.

There is a better way, fortunately. I recommend plotting a character by taking two likeable traits and one that isn’t inherently likeable. (Not sure which traits to pick? We’ve compiled a list here). Then ask yourself how this character might embody these traits.

For example, let’s say your characteristics are rugged, philosophical and antisocial. We usually want readers to sympathize with the main character, so let’s ask ourselves why he is antisocial. Maybe he has a legitimate and major beef with society. But what? Well, he’s rugged, right? Maybe his face has been horribly scarred by an accident or animal attack and now he lives alone in the wilderness. So now we’re getting a good visualization of this character: hard and freakishly ugly.

Now let’s try to describe his mental characteristics. He’s philosophical. Perhaps he was an academic before being attacked by a mastiff, but I think that’s too obvious. What if he became philosophical only after the attack? Perhaps he’s a relatively uneducated guy searching for some way to come to grips with the cosmic injustice that has befallen him. I think this coping quest would be accentuated if he lost a job that relied on his physical appearance. Hopefully he wasn’t a model (too obvious), but maybe he was a car salesman or someone else that needed to make a good impression. This will heighten his sense of loss.

So now let’s recap what I’ve discovered about this character in the ten minutes it took me to brainstorm.

  1. defining characteristics
  2. physical appearance
  3. job and educational background
  4. his defining desire– to come to grips with his ugliness

That’s not bad for ten minutes! By contrast, if I were filling out a character questionnaire, I’d be stumbling through questions like “what’s in his wallet?” without any appreciation of what defines the character. Putting the defining characteristics front-and-center and then filling in the rest of the character as needed is a far more structured and productive way to develop characters.

273 responses so far

273 Responses to “Creating Interesting Characters: Characterization by Trait”

  1. paperbulleton 07 Jun 2008 at 5:55 pm

    Thanks! I was having difficulty with this.

  2. Armondon 19 Aug 2008 at 9:40 pm

    Ok. I have a question. Would a superpowered inner-city kid from the projects be an interesting character?

  3. B. Macon 21 Aug 2008 at 3:56 am

    Armond, that’s an unexpected and fresh demographic trait. As far as demographics go, it’s interesting, but demographics are only the start to character development. Have you made any decisions about his personality, motivation, talents, family life, etc? How would you distinguish your hero from the protagonist of Blokhedz?

  4. Armondon 21 Aug 2008 at 8:13 pm

    Ive never heard of Blokhedz, but I wanted to make him a real conflicted character with problems at home, struggling in school but also trying to find a way to help out his hood and his city.

  5. Armondon 02 Sep 2008 at 8:55 pm

    Also, how would you make a female love interest interesting? I don’t want her to be a damsel in distress.

  6. The ReTARDISed Whovianon 17 Oct 2008 at 4:26 am

    How can I make an interesting character who has some aspects of the stereotypical strong-and-silent guy, but not have him be cut from the same cloth as all the others out there?

  7. B. Macon 17 Oct 2008 at 10:33 am

    One way is to give him an interesting mental trait or two. Typically, a strong and silent character doesn’t have very much happening upstairs… I’d recommend something unexpected like curiosity, idealism, or maybe a fondness of numbers. More conventionally, you could add a sense of duty, but duty to his family or country are probably overdone (try religion, friends, employers, etc.)

  8. Ragged Boyon 17 Oct 2008 at 7:33 pm

    Okay, I have two characters that I haven’t formally introduced you to.

    First is Ms. Corpse, Aadrello’s first partner. She was horribly neglected as a child, which seriously damaged her mind. Her secretly spiteful parents eventually sent her off to be an experiment. While in experimentation, her naturally-brown hair was ripped from her head. The chemicals used on her caused her hair to grow back blood-red. She also gained the ability to tolerate pain and heal from minor pain.

    An accident in another section of the facility caused the building to explode, allowing her to escape. She does not know who found her remains and stitched them together but that is why she has stitches throughout her body. Physically alive but still mentally ruined, she learns of her ability to control her hair and trains it. She wanders the galaxy searching for her parents and brother, all of whom she still loves. (Remember, she’s psycho). Although she is psychotic, she isn’t dangerous and can still think lucidly. But her personality is somber and quiet. She is depressed and cries often. After finding Aadrello stranded on a remote planet, she instantly develops a crush on him and they travel together to Emeralice to consult the royal family about the Cyborn Moon.

    Her two main positive characteristics are that she’s endearing and attractive. Her negative characteristic is that she’s withdrawn.

    Aadrello’s second partner is Alzavier Jornai “Emerald” Gaddis Emera. That’s a long name, I know, but he goes by Jornai. Born into a royal family, he’s a prince destined to rule some day. His training is tough and strict, in fields like swordsmanship (the only subject he liked), musical instruments, languages, etiquette, etc. Jornai never liked that lifestyle and dreamed of traveleing the galaxy and fighting. During his training, Jornai developed his emerald abilities and heightened his senses and speed. He is quickly the best in the Emeralice Underground Fight Ring until he is exposed and punished. He finally snaps and storms from the castle, fleeing to an island in the Ocean of Emeralice. There he continues to train until he encounters Aadrello and Irabella who crash-landed on the island. He takes them to the capital (his home) where he is confronted and fights his older brother as Aadrello and Irabella fight the Emerian Guard. Not long into the fight, the Cyborn send three henchwomen to fight the newly formed trio. After winning, the the three decide to travel together. Jornai leaves his planet on uneasy terms with his family. The trio now travel in his ship, the Starskimmer.

    His three main characteristics are intelligent/wise, virtuous, and (negative) obnoxious.

  9. B. Macon 17 Oct 2008 at 9:13 pm

    I think that Jornai sounds very likable and his traits seem like they are pretty deep (ie wisdom vs. something more superficial like attractiveness and virtue vs. endearingness). That depth should make it easier to spin a story out of them.

    My main concern with Jornai is that the rebellious-prince (or princess) is a type of character that’s been used a lot. For example, the protagonist of Talking With Dragons and Jasmine from Disney’s Aladdin are both rebellious royalty.

    I have a few issues with Ms. Corpse. Your two positive adjectives for her are endearing and attractive. Endearing is very similar to being loveable. In what way is this character loveable? I really didn’t get that vibe from her. (Ahem: you describe her as “psychotic,” “mentally ruined,” “often depressed” and a victim of hallucinogenic torture).

    Are you very attached to her being depressed? If you cut the depression and left her as a psychotic, she could be a Sylar-esque fan favorite—Heroes fans love the enthusiastic-and-psychotic Sylar because he’s the only one on the show with any sense of flair. Alternatively, I think you could make her just depressed and cut out the emoish torture angle, a la Raven from Teen Titans. Raven isn’t a great character, but she’s passable. However, I suspect that including both the torture angle and the psychotic/shattered-torture-victim angle will make Ms. Corpse very hard to like.

    I have strong reservations about “attractive” as her second positive trait. You could probably pick out a trait that’s more interesting, something that suggests something meaningful about her. For a character that has really deep flaws, I’d recommend only using powerful positive traits.

    For example, one of our heroes is a mutant alligator that is grossly paranoid and violent. We tried to soften those hard edges by having his two defining positive traits be how friendly and unselfish/generous he is. I expect readers will balk a little about his traits that are really hard to like (his paranoia and violence) but I suspect that they’ll see he is pretty friendly and come to like him anyway. In contrast, Ms. Corpse’s quiet nature will probably contribute to the problem. We probably won’t see very her very often socializing in a friendly, likeable manner.

  10. Jacobon 18 Oct 2008 at 1:35 am

    Adding onto B. Mac’s note about Agent Orange’s friendliness… The Hellboy movie tried to make Hellboy more likable by giving him a soft spot for kittens.

  11. The ReTARDISed Whovianon 18 Oct 2008 at 4:53 am

    Okay, thanks! He actually does have a thing for invention. He makes two or three little gizmos that come in handy for his buddies, like one he calls the Micker. It’s a tiny microphone that is secured to the inside of the cheek with a small sticker (hence the portmanteau between microphone and sticker). It has a pattern similar to the interior of the cheek so it can’t be spotted at first glance. It’s used for communication between them. It has an activation code (so that they aren’t heard when they sing into their hairbrushes, ha ha) and it’s paired with the Stickear, a similar device placed in the ear to receive the messages.

    Of course, he didn’t make these overnight. He has a conversation at one point, where he introduces them as the Stickear 4000 and the Micker 4507. He says it’s because “It took me three years and 4500 tries to invent one which didn’t almost electrocute me every time I tested it”. He’s no Violet Baudelaire. He would be hopeless in a rush to invent.

    He doesn’t use a lot of science talk in conversation; it’s rare that he ever explains his devices to the others. A conversation is rare in itself, he only says a couple of sentences at a time. But he is fascinated by the latest technology, so much so that he could stand in an appliances section for hours on end.

    What do you think?

  12. Jacobon 18 Oct 2008 at 4:54 am

    “It took me three years and 4500 tries to invent one which didn’t almost electrocute me every time I tested it.” Haha. That’s a riot.

  13. B. Macon 18 Oct 2008 at 5:26 am

    I think technological curiosity is a very interesting twist on strong-and-silent. In fact, except for a few possible problems with the gadgets themselves, I can’t even think of any likely trouble spots.

  14. Ragged Boyon 18 Oct 2008 at 7:06 am

    Well, I didn’t plan on making her anti-social, she’s the type to bottle it up. And it’s not as though she never talks and sits in the back, she is still a presence. And she is loveable, she’s not a freakshow. She is so becuase although she been through so much pain she still wants to help and know people, she is still a good person. I think the reader will like this. I may be able to tweak Jornai to make him a little less cliche, maybe I’ll make him the illegitimate child who is kept a secret, but lives as a servant in the Emera Castle, that way he is still a rightful prince but he’s different. And they are not Mary Sues, if anything Aadrello is my Mary Sue. I need to keep her past that’s her origin story but I guess I can make her not depressed.

    I can change her attractive to outgoing to show that she’s still a person (well alien person).

    Wow, I said “she” alot

  15. Ragged Boyon 18 Oct 2008 at 12:46 pm

    Okay, I’m into psychopathology I think I can find something to give her. Or, I can just change her “lifequest” to something else like finding the organization that experimented on her, or the person that put her together and make it less confusing and more serious.

    I cracked up when you wrote “she’s psycho”.

  16. Jacobon 18 Oct 2008 at 1:03 pm

    You cracked up when I quoted you saying “she’s psycho”? Uhh… why? Look, I think you and the audience might be on different pages here. I don’t think that many of your readers will laugh a lot about mental disorders or trauma. Sensitivity concerns aside, those elements are about as unfunny as genocide. In contrast, I suspect the mental disorder and trauma will give this story an overwhelmingly bleak tone.

  17. Ragged Boyon 18 Oct 2008 at 3:12 pm

    I was also thinking of, either, giving her another personality that is confident, kind of sexually charged, and outspoken (sort of like giving her a black girl twist, I’m not racist) OR just completely changing her personality to the one stated, but giving her mood swings instead of personality shifts.

  18. Ragged Boyon 19 Oct 2008 at 5:51 am

    Okay, geez-louise it was just an opinion it wasn’t the story that was funny it was the fact the you made it sound like I wasn’t thinking, which is funny. I wouldn’t laugh at you guys, especially if you’re trying to help me, I love you guys*tears up*.

    I’ll just change her origin story and personality, That why she can be a cool new person and no one will throw the comic away and say “The author is so insensitive to Mz. Corpse”

    I’ll post her new story soon.

  19. Ragged Boyon 19 Oct 2008 at 10:29 am

    Ok, I’ve got it I’m keeping the story of her parents and the experimentation and all that but instead of making her go insane, it made her stronger. Instead of being sad, withdrawn, and somber, she will be dominant, feisty, and independent. By changing this I think I can add story sections where her tough exterior is cracked, possibly by her crush on Aadrello or a possibility of the group breaking up.

    I think this is much easier to understand and explains her personality better.

    Oh, and what would be a good title for Sketch/Aadrello’s abilities, if you can recall, he can summon anything he has drawn, as long as it doesn’t consume too much energy and he has emotional attachment to it. I’m thinking “Animation” as the name.

  20. Bretton 19 Oct 2008 at 1:06 pm

    how about “Psychic Pictoanimation”?

  21. B. Macon 19 Oct 2008 at 1:38 pm

    I like animation. I also think that the personality change for Mz. Corpse will help.

  22. B. Macon 19 Oct 2008 at 2:39 pm

    If it makes you feel better, reviewers frequently complain about Courtney. He’s not black enough and/or too black, and everyone thinks he’s not a great character.

  23. Ragged Boyon 19 Oct 2008 at 3:39 pm

    Lash is black? I didn’t know haha. So what, forget what dumb reviewers think, people say I don’t act black enough to be black. That’s how they casted me out of the race along time ago and now wonder why I dress, act, and listen to the music that I do today.

    You have to love androgenous names! haha.

  24. Ragged Boyon 19 Oct 2008 at 7:16 pm

    I think he’s an interesting character, I just don’t know much about him. But then again I’ve only read aboout 2 and a third chapters of the story

  25. Ragged Boyon 04 Nov 2008 at 1:25 pm

    Honestly, what do you think of my three main characters. Aadrello has depth, I think he a perfect alien bohemian, but does Jornai need more depth. I love Mz. Corpse’s harsh origin and I think her revamped personality fits well with her past. Do you think my three characters mesh well, let me give you an idea of how they connect to one another.

    Aadrello is extremely close to Irabella, but thinks that Jornai and Irabella like each other.

    Aadrello is inadvertently oblivious to Irabella’s hints of her crush on him.

    Irabella has a crush on Aadrello, but covers with her tough exterior.

    Jornai and Aadrello often pick on each other and like to fight each other, but all in all they are close firends.

    Jornai and Irabella are mutually close friends and he can see through her tough exterior into her liking of Aadrello.

    Jornai and Aadrellos relationship is a best of both worlds friendship. Jornai being from a higher status as compared to Aadrello’s low status. Jornai sometime mocks Aadrello’s former standard of living

    Irabella often confides in both Aadrello and Jornai about her dark past, but all three have a troubled past.

    Aadrello is a city boy, Irabella enjoys silence and desolence, and Jornai loves the finer things.

    Jornai is the smartest having a full proper education, Aadrello is street-smart, and Irabella is self-taught but intelligent.

    Aadrello is most curious and often drags his partners into trouble.

    Aadrello is of an extinct aquatic race, The Akarians, he has large black eyes and gills on his face and can learn to sprout an aquatic tail, but he doesn’t learn this until later.
    Aadrello lived with his grandfather before he died, (there is a secret behind his parents, don’t worry they’re not superspies, get it?)

    Irabella is a Hamune, closely resembling humans except for their long, thin wispy ears.

    Jornai is an Emerian, also resembling humans but with elfish ears, orangish spotted skin and a third eye on their forehead (Jornai covers his with hair)

    What do you thing of them as well as their relationships and race?

  26. Ragged Boyon 04 Nov 2008 at 6:18 pm

    I’m sorry, but you just don’t get it. You talk as though EVERY aspect of EVERY relationship will be thrown in the readers face, alot of this is an undertone. I won’t make Irabella human. I think they are plenty relatable, the only difference is a change in skin color, at least for the main characters. I’ve said this before, the main characters are meant to be a relatable base, because there are going to be far stranger races, I want to different I don’t want humans. Sure, people may say “Irabella seems/looks like a human” but I don’t think that will make them discard the novel or comic. I posted above that I changed Mz. Corpse’s personality to be better relatable. I’ll change Aadrello to Adriello. And I will alter the love triangle to make it mor dramatic. And fine Adriello won’t be the last of his race, I’ll just have him think that until he goes to his home planet. I’m not sure how but I will advance I and A’s relationship. I will give Irabella and Jornai a general dislike of each other, will that work for ya? Is everything a symptom of Mary Sue? it seems like it. And even if they do seem Mary Sueish, they will still have dramatic downfalls and are wrong sometimes. I want to keep the team sort of rag-tagish, like they could disband at any second, at least at the beginning of the formation. I honestly don’t think the Z in Mz. Corpse is that bad.

    I apologize if this comes off a little irate.

  27. The ReTARDISed Whovianon 04 Nov 2008 at 11:59 pm

    Ragged Boy, it’s just advice. It’s not criticism or orders to change anything. Everyone means well, and if you ask me, every answer to every question that I ask is getting me a step closer to being published.

    Now, let’s not have any fights.

  28. Bretton 17 Dec 2008 at 2:52 pm

    Question: would it be better for Amorelia to be a crown princess (next in line), or for her to actually be in charge? If she actually has power I think her character would be stronger and perhaps more interesting. It also means that her relationship with Alex would create more scandal.


  29. B. Macon 17 Dec 2008 at 3:10 pm

    That’s a good question. I’d lean towards saying the crown princess option is better, because then she faces a greater obstacle (the approval of her parents and maybe the prospect of being moved down in the line of succession). In contrast, if she’s already in charge then she’s not really accountable to anyone, I feel. People might say nasty things about her but it’s not quite the same as something like “sorry, daughter, but because of your personal choices I couldn’t trust you to run the country.”

    Also, I suspect that her ability to interest readers hinges on her personality traits (like being smart and assertive) rather than her royal authority. However, I think her personality is interesting, so that shouldn’t be a problem.

  30. Cesaron 07 Jan 2009 at 7:13 pm

    Is it okay if Mithro and Caesar would have wings like an angel? There clothes would be cloaks. Mithro is all white, while Caesar is half black and white cloak with tribal markings in the middle. Also his right wing is colored white while his right wing is colored black.

  31. The ReTARDISed Whovianon 12 Jan 2009 at 5:16 am

    I just had an idea for another story, but I haven’t got it fleshed out yet. I might write it as a manga or comic book rather than a novel, but I thought of it five minutes ago so nothing is definite. Haha.

    I’ve got my MC worked out: a teacher at a public school who is also a secret agent. By day he deals with misbehaving students, by night he assassinates enemy spies. I’ve made him fresh out of uni, so he has a difficult time controlling his students even though he can put a bullet in a guy’s head and escape undetected.

    “Jane, stop throwing things across the class!”

    “What are you gonna do, gimme another detention? I didn’t go to the last five!”

    (Thinking) “Or I could- no, no, I can’t kill her.”

  32. The ReTARDISed Whovianon 12 Jan 2009 at 6:19 am

    I’ve tweaked it a little. He is still a secret agent, but his activities are restricted to London. He kills enemy agents as well as people who supply them or have ties to them. People selling weapons or helping them get around the world to do their various evil activities are all going to face his wrath.

    So, all-around he is a 24 year old public high school history teacher with hard-to-control students, which makes him frustrated. After all, he can’t just pull his hidden gun and kill them all, so he has to handle them without resorting to murder. I figure that this will be a good source of humour, such as mentioning how “his hand twitched towards the concealed knife in the small of his back, but he pulled away at the last second. He couldn’t kill Flyn, no matter how annoying his interruptions were”.

    He has a second job after hours and on weekends, killing or kidnapping key players from enemy organizations. He is paid handsome sums for his work, but avoids flashing large amounts of cash because his “cover” job doesn’t pay that highly.

    He’s skilled with firearms and knives, but is still learning to use blunt objects and garrotes. He’s not meant to be highly likeable, but he’s not meant to be evil either. His organization doesn’t want to take over the world, but they don’t want anyone else to. That’s why they send him to kill people.

  33. B. Macon 12 Jan 2009 at 6:54 am

    Hmm. I like the character concept, but I think you’d need a slightly better explanation for why a secret agent becomes a teacher for his cover. It’s an unusual cover because so many people might notice if he had to miss a few days to do some spywork or started getting strange wounds. Hopefully the teaching job would be actually related to his mission rather than just a random cover. Here are some of the ones I just whipped up.

    –He’s investigating a new drug that is being marketed to high-schoolers.

    –He’s investigating a more exotic crime. For example, several students at this high school have gone missing over the past few weeks and no one knows why.

    –He’s actually a bodyguard for one of his students. (The student hates having bodyguards, so his parents need someone undercover who can be in the room with him at all times).

    –You could adapt the character from a spy-as-teacher to a spy-as-student. (The character would need an extraordinarily youthful face to pose as a high schooler, but I know a few twenty-somethings that could pull it off). That would let him do an undercover investigation of street gangs, etc.

  34. Ragged Boyon 12 Jan 2009 at 7:36 am

    You guys are going to see a little less of me now. I just moved and we’re without cable and worse, without internets. WWWWWHHHHHYYYYYY!!!!!! I only have access to internet at school. See, now I won’t get to read stuff. TRW has some secret agent thing going and I can’t even read it. I’m wearing flip-flops to school, breaking racial stereotypes BAM!!

  35. Ragged Boyon 12 Jan 2009 at 7:40 am

    I finally continued production on my comic. I finished my first page and did three pages. Adrian is about to be saved by Jimelly.

  36. B. Macon 12 Jan 2009 at 8:16 am

    Well, at least your school offers internet access. It’s not quite as convenient as home access, but it works.

    As for the comic, that sounds good. I’d recommend making sure that the hero of the comic is the main doer as much as possible. It might seem a bit unsatisfying if the main hero needs someone else to save him. Sometimes it works, though, particularly if the hero does most of the work. For example, I vaguely remember you mentioning that Adrian outruns a group of aliens and then Jimelly steps in at the end. In that case, Jimelly would have a role in Adrian getting out of trouble, but Adrian would be the main doer.

  37. Ragged Boyon 12 Jan 2009 at 12:56 pm

    Yeah that’s the part. Oh, man emotional day. Everyone was spilling their guts, I couldn’t help but crack my nonchalant exterior and pour out some true emotional artistry.

  38. Ragged Boyon 12 Jan 2009 at 1:00 pm

    So, now I still have 12+ pages for Adrian to transition into Showtime and get to the main conflict.

  39. The ReTARDISed Whovianon 12 Jan 2009 at 8:33 pm

    Thanks! I like the first three, but I’ll probably use the second one. That way, he can investigate while doing side missions such as killing Herman Worcester, his first victim of the book. Herman is transporting weapons in through his shipping containers, and then selling them to the enemy groups.

    Perhaps the students are disappearing because an organization is running medical tests of some sort? Hormone harvesting or experimenting with cell mutation on their blood. Being teenagers, they’ll have more hormones in their blood than adults, so they’d be better for the tests. I don’t need to think that much about it though, because I’m focusing on Isaac at the moment. I’ll just write out a little outline and leave it in my idea file.

    I’ve done a bit of the first chapter, where it talks about how he loves doing the missions, outsmarting security and guard dogs, and then feeling the weight of the cash in his hand. I’ll mention at the start of the second one how he gets in his car, and leave the reader to assume he’s going to kill again. But he’ll walk into a class and put his laptop down before greeting the students, who are less than enthusiastic about another day of school.

    This website is blocked at my school. Stupid teachers. When we begin the school year I’ll try to explain the educational value and see if I can get them to unblock it, but I’ll need a pretty good argument. This website could be all about maths and they’d still want me to pull a million reasons out of my hat.

  40. Tommy Gunon 08 Nov 2009 at 5:43 pm

    Quick question guys!
    Does this sound like a good character?

    A teenage boy who can absorb and convert energy, but sometimes he looses control of his power and causes serious damage to anything near by. For example, when he tries to stop a nuclear bomb from exploding in its hangar, he accidentally absorbs the energy from everyone within half a mile and puts them all in comas.

  41. Tommy Gunon 08 Nov 2009 at 5:46 pm

    I don’t think i would have him as the main character. I’ve already got a half decent group of main characters. i just thought he would be an interesting addition to the group.

  42. B. Macon 08 Nov 2009 at 6:24 pm

    I’m not worried about the power– it sound workable– but powers are only a small sliver of the character. The personality, background and voice are significantly more important.

  43. Toastyon 13 Dec 2009 at 6:31 pm

    Uh, hey B. Mac. My first posting on this site. I was curious of your opinion on one of the main characters I was going for with a universe I’ve been developing. When I first started using the prototype of the character, I admit it was sort of a Gary Stu. Comic Book fan gains superpowers, attempts to be a costumed hero. Still kind of the same basis for the character, but I like to think since the revisions I’ve kind of moved away from that aspect.

    The main basis for the character is this guy has grown up in a world with superheroes… more or less. He’s one of those guys that’s grew up on this world of fiction that made things seem like they could be so much better in the real world which is one of the drives that pushes him.

    He’s so indocrinated in this concept of the Mask and what it represents that he’s even written a paper or two for school comparing the Boston tea party to being the start of the american masked hero. A bunch of people who took on a mask for anonymity to right an injustice. Same paper compares various forms of real life masks to this, including SWAT team helmets.

    Eventually he’s caught in an accident at his father’s workplace and thrown into a coma. When he awakens, he’s found his senses, strength, and agility have increased. In a lot of ways, it seems like he’s gained the powers of his favorite heroes. He looks around at the heroes that the town has had and how bad their lives are at this point. One of the most powerful heroes of the city lives as a crazed hobo and others are lost in their own personal problems. He decides this is something he can help to change as a hero himself. Give the town it’s own Cap or Superman to look to. Not in the popularity, but someone who stands there and openly asks ‘what can I do to help?’

    Then he gets shot and almost dies on his first night. Wakes up the next morning thinking it was all a dream, the wound is gone… until he turns to the local news. There’s a report of a costumed street-walker getting shot while trying to save someone.

    Over time he kind of realizes that the accident that gave him his powers really couldn’t have given him the powers he had, at least not in the normal sense. He’s kind of naive about these things because of his heritage and the influence the fiction has on him, but he’s an ok guy.

    If anything, he does have moments where he fails, where he lashes out. The comics have hindered him in how hard his goals are, to help the last generation of heroes lives be a little easier, heck… even to have a good old fashioned team-up. But it’s something he sticks by no matter how painful it is to him because he sees it as the ‘greater good’.

  44. Toastyon 13 Dec 2009 at 7:20 pm

    Oh, and I know I should have mentioned this, but after reading another article… it will be easily clear to the audience at the accident that something else is up. 🙂 Disintegrations with surprise reconstitutions usually don’t turn people into that type of hero, lol.

  45. B. Macon 14 Dec 2009 at 9:21 am

    Welcome, Toasty!

    I really like the idea of tying in the mask to justice (the Boston tea party, SWAT teams, Justice wearing a blindfold, etc). If you were inclined to, you could also tie the idea of supervillain masks to injustice (KKK hoods, ski masks, gang hoodies, etc).

    What’s the development arc for this character? How does he change over the course of the story? The most obvious (read: least inspired) answer is that he goes from a naive idealist to a hardened man that is forced to make rough decisions or everybody suffers. For example, I think that Spiderman, Batman and John Connor (in Terminator 2) have a similar development arc. Peter Parker acts in a petty, childish way by failing to stop the robber and it gets his uncle killed. Batman starts his story as an innocent child and that ends as soon as his parents get murdered. At the start of T2, teenaged John thinks that his mother’s apocalyptic predictions are insane rantings and is forced to confront the fact that there really ARE homicidal robots trying to kill everybody. Thinking back to classical history, Cincinnatus was a farmer that was often idealized for his willingness to lead Rome as a dictator in its hour of need and his resignation as soon as he was no longer needed. (In particular, George Washington cited him when explaining his decision to step down after two terms as US President).

    So there are a lot of different ways to execute that sort of development arc. If I were applying it to your character, the problem might be that the character is TOO eager to become a superhero and bites off more than he can chew. Someone gets hurt or killed and he needs to learn how to identify his limits. Etc.

    Alternately, you could try confident –> shaken, optimistic –> pessimistic, ineffective –> competent, ignorant –> aware, innocent –> evil (an unhappy ending, usually), etc.

    Also, what sort of flaws is this character working with? I can think of a few, based on the kid-becoming-superhero angle, but more importantly I’d like to know what YOU think of as a personality flaw. Which decisions can you see this character making that readers might disagree with?

  46. Toastyon 14 Dec 2009 at 3:34 pm

    Yeah, the too eager part plays into one of the storylines I had planned. : ) One of them involves him going after this group of killers that turn out to be part of this organ harvesting cult that uses the remains and necromancy to make their own ‘army’ of junk weapon wielding ‘frankenstein ninjas’. His sister gets captured and killed by the cult by the time he finds their lair, but isn’t harvested yet….

    Ally (prototype name, definitely goin to change it) ends up freaking out about it and threatening the leader, because he’s also seen other people walking around the facility he’s known to be dead but seem normal. So he knows he can bring back his sister and the other person there.

    Leader’s forced to bring them back, but what Ally realizes later is all those people walking around are also animated by etheral spirits. His sister’s been bonded with a volcano elemental and the other guy’s been bonded with a demon. Even worse, the leader tried to activate and enhance one of the junk ninjas with his magic to kill him while ally’s being happy about his sister being alive. He catches it out of the corner of his eye and reacts instinctively… and ends up killing the guy before he can fix anything.

    The enhancing magic ends up retaining sentience to the junk ninja girl. The guy and his sister are normal, for the most part, until his sister’s spirit starts causing havoc from time to time in her body. Guy doesn’t act like a demon, but he’s still got the churches setting him aflame problem and this general feeling he’s going to be going to hell regardless. Junk Ninja girl’s got nowhere to go.

    I think his biggest character flaw is he wants all too much to help things be like the comics, the good comics he remembers. The epic team ups and the idea that everything can be fixed in the end to some extent. To the point he actually tries to befriend some of the villians in an attempt to help them get better… even though they really need some professional help before he’ll do any good. XD

    Though one of the main arcs for the first couple stories I think is the idea he really doesn’t understand how his powers work. He’s constantly learning his weaknesses and limits because he’s on his own with comic book and general high school science. It’s ironic because if he ever got an ‘epic team-up’ going on with a more science orientated hero, he could learn a lot about how he works. It was something a friend suggested when I mentioned I wanted to revise it into something more…

    Heck, one possible storyline I came up with was when he figured out how to make constructs… he tries to make a ‘backup’ of his secret identity that works way too well. Thing starts getting paranoid he’s going to ‘shut him off’ when he’s done with whatever thing he’s investigating is over, starts him on a high speed chase…. with himself. 😛

  47. B. Macon 14 Dec 2009 at 4:19 pm

    Frankenstein’s ninjas… YES. 🙂 (However, could I suggest calling them something other than “junk ninjas?”

  48. Toastyon 14 Dec 2009 at 5:54 pm

    Haha, yeah… I’ll figure out something better then junk ninjas 🙂 it’s just the term I thought at the time because they’re basically kitbashing together weaponry.
    It’s funny in a way because I consider that girl the cute one of the series, lol.
    As seen here. 🙂

  49. The Jedi Penguinon 13 Mar 2010 at 3:42 pm

    What do y’all think of these characters?

    Daniel Mathais Preston- MC. Loving/passionate, determined, short tempered, dosent trust people easily. Has an alter-ego. Eventually gets together with Zeyta and is a rival/enemy of Markus. Espiel’s student. Nature powers. Neutral good.

    Mundane- Daniel’s alter-ego. He is angry at the world and The Superiors specifically. Fire powers. Lawful evil.

    Zeyta- Secondary MC. Intelligent, creative,strongwilled, stubborn, and somewhat indecisive. At the beginning of the novel she is with Markus but leaves him for Daniel. Is forced to choose between the two men. Water powers.

    Markus- Secondary MC. Perservering/patient, manipulative. Elven philosopher. at the beginning of the novel he is Zeyta’s boyfriend. he is devastated when she leaves him for Daniel, resulting in a face heel turn (http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/Main/FaceHeelTurn). Air/mind powers. Lawful neutral-> neutral evil.

    These are only basic profies which is why they are written in short choppy sentences. I can provide more info if you need it.

  50. B. Macon 13 Mar 2010 at 6:30 pm

    Hello, Jedi! I have a few thoughts and suggestions…

    –I like Daniel’s flaws, especially the trust issues. I think it’d be pretty easy to work them into the plot in a dramatic fashion.

    –Does Mundane affect the Daniel/Zeyta/Markus triangle? (For example, Peter’s secret identity in the Spiderman movies complicated the Peter/Mary Jane/Harry relationship–killing the father of your best friend and on-and-off romantic rival will do that to you).

    –I think Zeyta’s flaws could be a bit stronger/more noticeable.

    –Could I recommend getting rid of the D&D-style alignment system? I don’t think it gives your characters enough credit.

  51. The Jedi Penguinon 13 Mar 2010 at 8:46 pm

    Thanks for the feedback.
    “–Does Mundane affect the Daniel/Zeyta/Markus triangle? (For example, Peter’s secret identity in the Spiderman movies complicated the Peter/Mary Jane/Harry relationship–killing the father of your best friend and on-and-off romantic rival will do that to you).
    Mundane is “created” by a supevillian who is possessing daniels body. The thing is Daniel is unaware of this for quite a while. When he does finnally figures out that he is really the one who had done the heinous crimes that had been commited recently, he responds to this by fleeing so that he can’t hurt the few people he’s come to care about. this forces Zeyta to choose between a person she barely knows and has seemingly run away during a time of great need, who she got bad first impressions of and a guy shes know for a long time and is trying to help find solutions to the problem.
    “–I think Zeyta’s flaws could be a bit stronger/more noticeable.”
    What sort of flaws would you suggest adding?
    “–Could I recommend getting rid of the D&D-style alignment system? I don’t think it gives your characters enough credit.”
    I’ll do away with it and pretend that it never existed.

  52. B. Macon 13 Mar 2010 at 10:40 pm

    Ah, okay. That explanation of Mundane sounds more interesting than what I was thinking (that it was just another secret identity he took on to protect himself or his loved ones). I think it could tie in neatly with his trust issues, too. (He can’t even trust his own memories).

    Okay, for Zeyta’s flaws, so far you have her as stubborn and somewhat indecisive. In the context of your plot, could you use either to have her make a big mistake or do something the audience wouldn’t approve of? Indecisiveness would strike me as a more natural flaw for an inept leader character. I could sort of see stubbornness working here, but it doesn’t seem to mesh well with indecisiveness. (Isn’t the problem with stubbornness that the person is TOO attached to his decisions? That doesn’t seem consistent with a waffler). You know your story better than I do, of course, but one possible mistake that comes to mind would be that a stubborn lover might be too blind to the issues with Markus to see that Daniel is the guy that’s right for her, or something like that. Alternately, stubbornness might lead her the wrong way if she tries to find out who Mundane is. It couldn’t possibly be Daniel! He’s such a sweet, harmless guy. 😉 Finally, if he tries to abandon her for her own safety, she might be too stubborn to call it off even though that probably would be safer for her. (However, for this to be a notable choice, you’d probably have to make the danger credible–if it’s not dangerous to stay with him, then her decision will probably not be as exciting).

    In the context of a romance, an indecisive lover might have commitment issues. Maybe some trust issues of her own that would jeopardize her ability to have a happy romance. (Also, that’d probably raise an interesting obstacle for her suitors).

  53. Wingson 13 Mar 2010 at 10:54 pm

    Looking over the plot, I have to ask: have you decided whether the story is a fantasy or superhero novel yet? I may be a little biased in favor of the latter, but I can name a dozen good fantasy novels in five minutes but maybe one average superhero novel.

    As to Zeyta’s flaws, maybe make her overly tactical. Perhaps she could spend hours creating a perfect strategy, but when the time came to finally act on it she’d still be planning.

    Just because of the whole anti-personality powers (http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/Main/PersonalityPowers) thing that would come up I’d advise against making her impulsive/hotheaded, which is my first instinct (It appears that female hotheads for me this year are like how broody antiheroes were a few years back. These things go in and out of style mentally for me… *counts on fingers* Meg of HTSTW, Elle of TAWNBT, Elaine of Twisted Fantasy, Ari of Between Light And Darkness…I have issues).

    The D&D system is fun to use on people you know. Let’s see, I’m a Chaotic Neutral, a Lawful Evil is a good friend of mine, and I know far too many Stupid Good people… 🙂

    – Wings

  54. mnkykingon 14 Mar 2010 at 3:44 am

    Good advice on character building here, I’ve got one that I’d like to bring up that I’m trying to get a handle on for a second project (I know, curse of the frequent starter). This one is the main character for a superhero story (not sure of the length, but a text rather than a comic).

    Using the format discussed, I’d say the defining traits are: Savvy (which in this case refers to a sort of worldliness and experience that leads to easy understanding), a sense of Justice (believes in fairness, and believes it’s worth fighting to uphold the ideal), and Discontent (which will form the basis for his taking unnecessary risks and sometimes choosing poorly)

    So from these, I would describe him in this manner, incorporating the spare backstory I have in mind:

    Several years after graduating with an as-of-yet useless liberal arts degree, he finds that his life still consists of long lonely nights working his menial job in the movie theater. While it was fun and appropriate when he was studying, but he can’t help feeling trapped and that he should be doing more (not the standard “I’m meant for greater things” line, more like he feels guilty that he hasn’t made more of himself). He is older than a lot of his friends, who are mainly from work, and the only thing he shares in common with them is his passion for movies-which is sometimes the only thing that he feels comfortable talking about. This maturity (relative to his peers, not so much in general) leads him to see things in a very realist manner, sometimes even cynically. This mild tendency towards pessimism also stems from his innate sense of fairness, which feels violated by his lack of achievement relative to what he feels he should be doing and therefore he is compelled to “do something”, even when he’s not sure what to do. Gaining his powers will be the impetus for this drive that makes him want to get out there and smite evil.

    Background on his abilities and their use:
    The character is a superhero, or at least wants to be. He gets his chance when he finds upon recovering from a massive migrane blackout that he is now incredibly strong and tough, and can fly. (basic superman package) His powers are psychic in nature, as they all stem from applications of Telekenisis (he enhances his lifting capacity and attack power and lifts himself to fly, and projects an invisible forcefield to provide his invulerabliity) He is unaware of the nature of his powers at first, having been more accustomed to “comic book style” powers from his obsession with movies, (little or no rational explanation), and when he acts on these assumptions he makes mistakes and gets hurt. (ie, lack of concentration could cause him to drop something very heavy, or even fall from the sky if he’s not careful) He also has the misconception that problems superheroes face can all be solved with violence or application of the correct ability, which will lead to trouble. I thought it might be interesting to have mental powers as the basis for a character who sees every problem as a nail because he has a hammer, since that’s usually behavior reserved for physically oriented characters.

    Those are the bones, hopefully I can come up with some more compelling flesh for them. The villain I have in mind I came up with years ago, so he’s much more compelling, I need the hero to match-which will take some work, no doubt.

    Any comments, ideas, or verbal abuse?

  55. The Jedi Penguinon 14 Mar 2010 at 8:32 pm

    @ B. Mac

    i see where yourcoming from. I,m gonna try to see what sort of mistakes i couldIhave her make.

    “Alternately, stubbornness might lead her the wrong way if she tries to find out who Mundane is. It couldn’t possibly be Daniel! He’s such a sweet, harmless guy.”
    There’s accually a scene I have in which he tells her and well she’s shocked to sy the least.

    @ Wings

    I think its gonna be a superhero fantasy. this way its easier to explain certain things, like how Daniel’s appearance changes when he changes into Mundane.

    On a somewhat unrelated note, i like this flaw. I could go somewhere with this.

    What do you think about Markus? Should i keep him an elf or make him human? I have one fantastic race already, and i don’t know how i would develop elves to be non-cliche.

  56. B. Macon 14 Mar 2010 at 10:43 pm

    I think Markus could work as either an elf or human. However, making him human might make him a more credible romantic rival (he’d probably be closer to her in age/interests/life-span/etc)– although I suppose an elf would be better-equipped to compete in other ways, like that goofy poetry and preternatural gracefulness stuff. And the ability to gut a bear with a dagger and longbow is lost on no lady. 😉

    As for the nonclicheness, I think one way to solve that would be to give them an unexpected defining trait. For example, possibly manipulativeness– that would fit well with Markus, I think.

  57. B. Macon 14 Mar 2010 at 10:58 pm

    Hello, MnkyKing.

    I like savviness and justice, but I think discontent could be developed a bit. It sounds like he’s embarrassed about how little he’s done with his life.

    –There may be a discrepancy between him being savvy and him working at a menial job without major success. If he’s mature and savvy and college-educated, why hasn’t he done something more with himself, especially if he feels guilty about it? Maybe he’s very cautious about trying new things and/or feels intimidated by how competitive the market is for liberal arts majors.

    –I think the misapplication of his movie knowledge has a lot of dramatic potential. If you’re aiming for humor, it could be hilarious. 😉

    –“He also has the misconception that problems superheroes face can all be solved with violence or application of the correct ability, which will lead to trouble.” I like this contrast between reality and what he expects.

    –This generally sounds promising. I’d recommend getting started writing. 🙂

  58. The Jedi Penguinon 15 Mar 2010 at 9:34 am

    -“(he’d probably be closer to her in age/interests/life-span/etc)”

    I was thinking aboput making elves age the same way as humans and just have a longer average lifespan. This would make it so that he would be about the same age as the others or maybe a bit older.

    -“For example, possibly manipulativeness– that would fit well with Markus, I think.”

    He’s accually very good at manipulating people. it comes of understanding them rather well (he is a philosopher ;)). Hes also quite clever.

  59. alxrgrson 11 Apr 2010 at 6:24 am

    Hi guys, I’m currently working on a project telling the story of a guy who starts an underground revolution in a future police state. Here’s a basic outline of where I’m having trouble:

    The guy (Ryan Grant) has a charismatic and kind of furious personality, but is also quite tortured and reflective. Inspired by characters like Doctor Who, Captain Kirk, Indiana Jones, but with a kind of dark, angry (and anti-establishment) Tyler Durden edge, and with a costume. Through most of the first Act he’s a confused, reckless and violent individual, but with an exceeding intellect. He’s gonna do some travelling around America and some of the world to do some learning and soul-searching similar to the likes of Bruce Wayne, although actually inspired by Che Guevara. I’m also currently working in a way for him (and others) to possess telekinetic abilities, with Grant spending a lot of time honing them (is the whole government testing thing a little overused? I just think it would fit in with the whole “police state” idea). Again inspired by both Batman (Year One) and Guevara, he sets out to create an image or symbol rather than just being a man to stand up to a corrupt oppressive government. He tools himself up and fights, sometimes Guerilla-style, which gets him involved in the underground revolution teams.

    But this is where I struggle. Grant does have a goal that he wants to achieve, it’s just not really in his character to make long-term plans. Plus, I’ve always been fascinated with the “accidental hero” situation, like Captain Kirk for example. I’m finding it hard to create a transition between returning to his home in California and preparing and executing his first battles to stumbling into the movement and eventually becoming the “face” of the revolution. I’ve never written an accidental hero, somehow managing to end up in situations he never dreamed of but succeeding neverthless, so I’m kind of struggling a little here.

    You guys all seem to be pretty clued-up in writing areas, so I was just wondering if you could give me a little advice, maybe some ideas, and maybe a little feedback on my idea would be nice.

    Thanks guys


  60. Lighting Manon 11 Apr 2010 at 9:44 am

    His first engagement with the government could be the same fight that leads him to joining the guerillas, and then you’ve just got to give him a motive or action that places him in the crosshairs of the government, at least for the duration of the fight. One option, since you like accidental heroes, is that he is looting an abandoned store for canned food, when soldiers find him and open fire, he could accidentally kill or disable two or three (things like shooting lighter fluid comes to mind, or sending an aisle divider crashing down on them might work) or purposely turn household things into weapons, if you’d like. Another option would be him stepping in help someone, only for the soldiers to turn violent. The guerillas might interpret the accidental option as intentional, or simply be impressed by the intentional murder, and recruit him, or help him after he is cornered, and forcefully take him to their HQ.

  61. B. Macon 11 Apr 2010 at 11:59 am

    I sort of get the feeling that this character is more like V from V for Vendetta than Indiana Jones or Captain Kirk. 😉

    For the telekinetic abilities, maybe you could give him some origin besides government testing. I feel like it’s a bit too obvious/overdone. On the other hand, government testing might explain some of the other telekinetic guys, especially if the government tries to replicate whatever happened to Grant.

    It sounds like Ryan does a lot of travel abroad. Why does the government let him go? (I figure a police state would have pretty tight limits on outside travel–they wouldn’t want the masses getting any outside ideas). Maybe he has some legitimate reason to do business abroad, or maybe he’s the sort of guy that goes anyway without permission.

    Is there some turning point at which he decides to resist the government, or is he born/raised that way? What causes him to snap? (I notice that your side-cast doesn’t look too crowded at the moment, so maybe something happens to a friend or family member that causes him to turn on the government). Maybe something less obvious than a friend/family member getting randomly killed by the government or joining the rebellion and then getting killed. (For example, perhaps the friend/family is in the government and does something that is meant to help Ryan but actually horrifies him, like having a family thrown out onto the street so that Ryan has a nice place to live).

  62. alxrgrson 11 Apr 2010 at 1:41 pm

    Lighting Man, thanks for some great ideas there. I definately like the looting the store for food one, it kind of suits a grittiness that i would like to incorporate. The scene itself I want to be big one seeing as it’s a pivital moment and a big change for his future, so thanks 🙂

    B. Mac, after reading back what I wrote it pretty much sounds like the synopsis for V for Vendetta haha. V is another massive influence on this one. He’s kinda like Kirk in terms of personality: he’s reckless, charismatic and will happily resort to violence.
    What I thought was maybe giving his telekinetic it’s own origin (which I’m also having a little trouble with) and, like you said, have the government attempt to duplicate his powers through genetic testing in order to create better soldiers.

    As for the police state, it’s more of a “Police-world” if that doesn’t sound too 1984. A one-world corporatist government under the facade of unity but with a heavy focus on repression. War is virtually obselete, except for when maybe the government organizes random acts of terrorism to whip the populace of the world in line. Ryan is raised by his father who is a doctor and a leftist, but (at first), like most of the world, too fearful to really do anything about it as underground guerrilla groups are heavily repressed and are always dismissed by the media as misguided terrorists. I felt that Ryan would need to have something happen to him that would make him a slightly different person so (and let me know if you think this is too much) his mother dies giving birth to him, which in itself would affect his life, in this case, making him feel like a bit of an outsider and therefore a bit more detatched from society. Then later on, while he is still a child, his father is assassinated for putting his skills as a doctor to use helping an injured guerrilla fighter (his emotional problems are heightened beyond this point and, while in care, he becomes an increasingly more reckless and rebellious person). His father’s murder also allows him an emotional attachment, a deep-rooted motivation (no matter how negative) to try and change things. And as for the travelling, he cares not for permission. My idea was to have him stow away on a ship or plane. The idea is that when he travels, he sees different sides of society, like desperate poverty that leads to crime, oppressed education and general suffering. From this point, he continues travelling but with a plan to change things, learning from guerrillas and headhunters.

    Thanks again for the help 🙂

  63. alxrgrson 11 Apr 2010 at 1:52 pm

    Also, in terms of other cast members. I have a currently skin and bones idea for a love-story with a strong and intelligent but a little cooky woman named Leya who, as a polar opposite to Ryan, would represent a beacon of hope and peaceful rebellion for the populace, whereas Ryan, in costume, would represent an object of fear for the mob (who have been hired by the government as a kind of security measure). The more “mob” bosses Ryan (and eventually his team) takes down, the closer he gets to the fat cats in the government.

    And as for enemies, I had a great idea: two seething anarchist psychpathic brothers who work as hitman are hired to take out Ryan and other main representatives of freedom, kind of Clockwork Orange-style crazed violence 🙂

  64. Herojockon 15 Jun 2010 at 12:23 pm

    Gosh some mary sue questions make me wonder. For example:

    A character who disagrees with [Insert Your Heroes name] ends up getting in trouble, being dreadfully injured, or dying horribly in a way that proves that [Insert Your Heroes name] was right all along.

    Well yeah maybe one or two do. What would be the point of a having a hero who has villains that constantly prove they are right and nothing negative happens to them. Kind of would make the hero totally redundant and not much of a hero in the end.

  65. Herojockon 15 Jun 2010 at 12:26 pm

    P.s the test said my character has a healthy career ahead of him anyway. But still.. lol

  66. Anonymouson 03 Oct 2010 at 12:37 am

    Hey im currently trying to write a character who has vast psionic abilities nign omnipotent but with heavy limitations, hes basically an alagram of my favorite psychic characters but i want his personality to be sort like dr doom favorite villain btw.i was looking for help on creating him i already have powers and his name armond nathaniel krisdtoff my name is dillan by the way an up and rising comic book writer. Sorry. For poor writting use mobil phone

  67. B. Macon 03 Oct 2010 at 1:06 am

    –If he’s nigh omnipotent, how are you going to challenge him? (I think that would be more of a problem if he’s a protagonist. He’s a villain, right?)

    –Umm, what sort of limitations did you have in mind?

    –In terms of originality, could you flesh out his personality so that he stands out from Dr. Doom? For example, what’s he trying to accomplish?

    –So, Dr. Doom will probably be familiar to the editors you submit to. What does your character add to the market that Dr. Doom doesn’t have? (IE: how is he going to make for stories that are more interesting?)

    –Will he be relatable at all? (If he’s an antagonist, it wouldn’t matter at all if he’s unrelatable because villains usually don’t need to be a major point of entry into the story for the readers). Whether he’s a villain or not: will he be likable/sympathetic at all? (That’s one of the things I like about Doom: although he’s a ruthless dictator, it seems like he sort of cares about his citizens and is generally high-brow).

    –Anything notable/interesting about his origin story? Or anything else interesting about his backstory?

    –What are some of the enemies/rivals or other things standing in the way of him accomplishing his goals?

    –Development arc: how does he evolve over the course of the story? (Note: becoming more powerful and/or better-trained might be a part of that, but I’m thinking more in terms of personality and other character development).

    –What are some of his flaws like?

  68. Dillanon 03 Oct 2010 at 1:46 am

    Well im open to any ideas my favorite comic saga and reason im into comics is jean grey in the dark phoenix saga ive always been into the whole vast psychic powers but i just wanna do the character a little more original than u know uncontrolled power and rage

    And yeah i want him to be a sympathic anti hero whoes the mc. I want his powers early on to be seen as a hinderance on his life and im not sure how to do the training aspect without coming across as cheesy.But in terms of doom yeah i love the fact that hes almost seen as a benovolent dictator in his country

    At this stage im open to anything i want the mc to be like maybe the phoenix/nate grey if hes the good guy. Im also a fan of characters with reality warping so you could say more of a teenage franklin richards.but i also want the character to be somewhat more than average intellect as well.

    Hey i think ive found something cool i wanna model the character like a teenage dr doom.but written for a mature audiance to avoid him being cheesy.maybe like alexander luthor without the strange look :p

    im really happy i found this site ive been working on this chara ter for nearly 2 years with no help from anyone.the only thing that im a 100percent set on is a mc with vast psychic powers other than that im open to suggestion

    In terms of origin should i go with government esp reseach facility.it could explain training but it could also be burned out. I need an origin that incoperates him learning to control his powers

    Oh last thing im more leaning towards kid protagonist for relatability someone like nate grey and i need ideas on how to make villains who could actually challenge him.

    In terms of origin im lost i dont know how to do an origin for this character thats different.If say the mc is younger im not sure how to incoperate a reason for why hed be a super hero.And also my characters powers are cosmic in scope much like the phoenix.so it make him strange to picture as an earthly hero. Yeah i love this site its extreamly helpful.

  69. B. Macon 03 Oct 2010 at 5:12 pm

    “Well im open to any ideas my favorite comic saga and reason im into comics is jean grey in the dark phoenix saga ive always been into the whole vast psychic powers but i just wanna do the character a little more original than u know uncontrolled power and rage… the only thing that im a 100percent set on is a mc with vast psychic powers.”

    I’m not sure how you’d be able to challenge an extremely powerful hero without making his powers and/or temperament unreliable (like Jean in Dark Phoenix or, ick, the Sentry). I suppose you could just make the villains even more powerful so that they pose a challenge, but I get the impression that comics with really high power levels are harder to sell. The ones that come to mind, like Superman, DBZ and Dr. Strange, do not frequently sell particularly well on their own, which suggests to me that vastly powerful characters do not lend themselves well to interesting fights or relatability.

    One option would be taking the story in a different direction than straight-up action. For example, Dr. Manhattan had only an incidental role in combat, which helped because nobody else in the story could have stood up to him in a direct fight. Outside of the realm of superheroes, Meet Joe Black uses relationships and a search for love/understanding to challenge a protagonist (Death) that can’t be challenged with power. Depending on what the character’s goal is, it might be possible to come up with obstacles that won’t completely fall apart when exposed to his capabilities. However, if the main goal is just beating an external foe, my guess is that it’d be hard to gin up a satisfying story out of a battle between two god-like foes. (In stories like Constantine that feature a conflict between god-level foes as the backdrop, I notice that the gods are very rarely the main characters. Perhaps because readers care more about the lower-level characters than the gods?).

    “I want his powers early on to be seen as a hinderance on his life and im not sure how to do the training aspect without coming across as cheesy.” I’m not sure how his powers would be a hindrance on his life if control weren’t an issue for him. Maybe he’s really bored because having incredible powers takes the challenge out of life and everybody else around him is trying to accomplish things that are either effortlessly easy or utterly meaningless to him. Or maybe he’s been somewhat mentally hardened by constant exposure to what other people are thinking–maybe he’s taken on a rather cynical outlook on life because he’s seen what people think after the white lies and veneers of sociability are stripped away?

    “In terms of origin im lost i dont know how to do an origin for this character thats different.If say the mc is younger im not sure how to incoperate a reason for why hed be a super hero.” I don’t know enough about his personality or possible motivations to help much here. For example, if he were a selfish and self-absorbed character, he might become a superhero for the accolades and attention. This is an area where I think his overpoweredness may make your life a bit harder. Like Death, I anticipate that the character would probably have unusual motivations.

    Well, anyway, I think you’ve got your work cut out for you. Good luck.

  70. Dillanon 03 Oct 2010 at 5:45 pm

    Thanks hey how often can i reach you imma be posting some ideas that im working on at around 8 pm today if i could get some feed back then id really apreaciate it :p

  71. Dillanon 03 Oct 2010 at 5:48 pm

    Im also on my mobil makes it hard to post long paragraphs ill be on pc around then

  72. Dillanon 03 Oct 2010 at 5:49 pm

    Oh one other thing b mac is there a way i can send you my ideas directly for review?

  73. B. Macon 03 Oct 2010 at 7:14 pm

    Sure. I can be reached at superheronation-at-gmail-dot-com.

  74. Amy-HeroFanon 10 Oct 2010 at 12:41 am

    I have started a new story and it is my first story from a superhero angle. At the beginning of my story my character, who goes by the name, Lightning is actually a villian or more precisely a robber. She turned down the dark path to help pay for her brother’s medical bills since her parents left her no money after they had passed away.
    Anyway, I am wondering if this is a good thing to do with the main character, is to have her first as the villian? However, I am going to have her become a hero, however I am not sure how to do it. I am thinking of having her brother killed off from a demon that is released from an amulet that is accidently given to him.

    How should I approach this the part with the brother? Should I off him? Or should I put out a different way in which my character becomes a hero? I am not quite sure how to go about it.

  75. B. Macon 10 Oct 2010 at 12:44 pm

    It sorts sort of antiheroic, but pretty tame compared to some of the antiheroes I’ve read. I don’t think that too many readers will hold it against her that she robs to pay for medical bills. One option would be that her stealing somehow gets her brother killed, and she feels guilty about it, so she decides to become a hero either as atonement or revenge.

    For example, it could go something like this…
    1) She manages to steal something before a criminal organization’s goons got to it.

    2) The criminal organization is annoyed that she beat them.

    3) They kill the brother to let everybody in town know that crossing them is bad news.

    4) At this point, she has no reason to stay a thief (her brother is dead, so she doesn’t need to keep paying for medical treatment). Maybe she becomes a hero to stick it to the criminal organization, or because she had always wanted to be a hero but couldn’t afford it, etc. She may also feel guilty that her theft/criminal lifestyle indirectly led to the death of her brother.

  76. Rachel Mon 14 Oct 2010 at 7:33 am

    I have two characters that my story is centered on, an obscenely rich woman, and a very tough man who is in love with this woman. Both have not-very-happy family histories, but I can’t decide on which to make my MC.
    Please help!

    PS: This is a superhero/some magic storyline.

  77. B. Macon 14 Oct 2010 at 11:04 am

    If you have a preference for either character’s voice, it might be easier to write a story centering on that character. Alternately, you could use both as main characters.

  78. Lighting Manon 14 Oct 2010 at 11:35 am

    Just from those details, i would suggest looking into making the female the primary protagonist, excessive wealth, especially if she is primarily an upper class person in nature, as opposed to the more rebellious “being rich is a chore” characters like Dudley Moore in Arthur, or Tony Stark from Iron Man are much harder to relate to than an emotionally cold character which I take to be your meaning by “tough” as almost all protagonists from action films are emotionally cold, which while not specifically intended to be especially easy to relate to, succeed well enough.

    If I were in your situation, however, I would consider doing as B. Mac suggested and simply involving as the primary protagonists. It’d help make sure that it wasn’t too one sided and would help readers understand all the angles of the relationship.

  79. B. Macon 14 Oct 2010 at 11:45 am

    In a faintly similar situation, with one taxman-turned-secret agent and a substantially more exotic mutant alligator, I went with the taxman as the main character because he’s far easier to relate to.

  80. Dillanon 14 Oct 2010 at 11:52 am

    Hey bmac do u think fan fiction is a good way to practice comic writting im thinking about trying it

  81. Madaliason 14 Oct 2010 at 12:06 pm

    This is article is the reason I found (and continue to enjoy) your site. I had been searching for articles on characterization/character development so that I could write a guide for my own site. I had already become disillusioned with all the endless “character development questionnaires” with their trivial or irrelevant questions and had been planning to suggest a much more focused approach, but this essay did a much better job of articulating what I had been thinking about planning around character traits. I think your advice about choosing from both positive and negative traits is spot on and should be applied to antagonists as well as protagonists. I think I normally start my characters with traits or desires and fill in the other stuff about appearance or background from there. However (if the site I work on is typical) I think a lot of amateur writers actually start with appearance or abilities and do character traits as an afterthought. I assume that’s why they put such emphasis on relatively inconsequential things like hair and eye color

  82. B. Macon 14 Oct 2010 at 12:06 pm

    Dillan, I don’t think that writing fan-fiction would hurt your writing skills, but I think most writers would learn more building an original story from the ground up rather than taking a story where 90%+ of the characters and the premise and probably the setting have already been laid out.

    Also, every hour you spend on an original story gets you that much closer to getting your story published, whereas a fan-fiction story is just for fun.

    Finally, I would recommend taking any reviews of fan-fiction with an especially large dose of skepticism. The reviewers don’t take it very seriously.

  83. Dillanon 14 Oct 2010 at 12:34 pm

    Is there any way to get any recognition from fan writting work.Id imagine itd probably have to be damned good but is it possible, however unlikely. Or better yet is there a way to submit it to like a contest or something

  84. Dr. Maladyon 14 Oct 2010 at 1:01 pm

    Depends on where you post it. I see a lot of ‘challenges’ on LJ and Fanfiction.net (both of them). Mostly you get praise from readers and fellow authors.

  85. Dillanon 14 Oct 2010 at 1:08 pm

    Thanks dr malady im think of creating a mutant in the xmen universe maybe the child of some other character, he might transfer into a series that ill write later on as the mc

  86. Dr. Maladyon 14 Oct 2010 at 1:52 pm

    Fun fun. I have a lot of fan characters, I think of it as an exercise. X-men is a universe I enjoy for creating characters. It’s a pretty open and versatile universe. Though I’m still hooked up on my OP and J&D characters right now. lol <3

    What kind of powers are you going to be using? Any idea?

    (And suddenly I am less formal. xD)

  87. Dillanon 14 Oct 2010 at 2:11 pm

    Haha yeah think of an analgram of psychic characters i think and interesting plot would be if sinister got genetic material from powerful psychic mutants from all over even across different times and dimensions and creating a mutant from that material.Think nate grey but more material than jean grey and scott summers(it could include professor x,magneto franklin richards etc) I dont know all the details yet but its a start.oh id love to here about your characters as well (this is my first time doing fan fiction, although i did do a starwars story once 😉

  88. Dillanon 14 Oct 2010 at 2:14 pm

    Id like to do like a phoenix force spark within the character (jean grey/phoenix)is my favorate character

  89. Dr. Maladyon 14 Oct 2010 at 2:29 pm

    *chuckle* Certainly sounds interesting. Though I never much liked psychic characters except Prof. X. I made one once though…. can’t recall what I did with him.

    Well I’d be most happy to share my characters, I’m not sure if you know that worlds. I have Tiger Lily for the One Piece universe and Trapp for the Jak and Daxter universe. If you wanted to hear about either.

    It might be shameful but I simply ADORE the J&D universe. I love Torn.

  90. Dillanon 14 Oct 2010 at 2:37 pm

    I know of one piece not that familar though and ive played through jak and dexter (i liked evil jak lol ) but yeah id like to hear about which ever.And i know its hard to make psychic characters theyre either to weak or way overpowered which makes writting them very difficult,but the powers of the mind are very interesting to me.Hey btw are you familiar with akira?

  91. Dillanon 14 Oct 2010 at 3:15 pm

    This is shameful, it takes several pages to explain my characters powers,weaknesses and limitations 🙁 but its mainly just a guideline so i know exactly what he’s capable of and when i write him (whenever the hell that might be 😉 i won’t be pulling abilities out of nowhere “like hey guess what i can do this and that” plus for me vague descriptions of powers makes it difficult for me to set challenges for my character.

  92. Dr. Maladyon 14 Oct 2010 at 3:24 pm

    Akira the movie? Yes. Otherwise I’m afraid not.

    Since I’m working with Trapp right now I’ll blather on about him. Mostly right now he’s an annoyance to Torn. I’m very much amused.

    I’m not sure where to being. Hmmm…..

    Trapp is a odd fellow, split between two distinct modes: play and protect. Play wise he’s much like a child, hyperactive and easily distracted. Normally by something sharp, shiny or by Torn. He loves to bug Torn. If there were a picture of them it’d be Trapp clinging to Torn’s shoulder, Torn’s hand in his face trying to push him off.

    Protection wise he seems to shut off. He’s a ruthless fighter, with a tendency to use his body as a shield. For example, at one point someone throws a knife at his charge. Trapp just sticks his arm out and lets the knife embed itself in his arm.

  93. Dillanon 14 Oct 2010 at 3:32 pm

    Is there a place where i could read your work,and think of my character vaguely based off of tetsuo shima.oh and if theres a way to reach you i could give you a rough preview of my work for viable feedback 🙂

  94. Dillanon 14 Oct 2010 at 3:56 pm

    Cool, cool, damn im trying to reign this characters powers in and balance him at the moment,have you done any other fanfiction comics/manga or otherwise

  95. Dr. Maladyon 14 Oct 2010 at 4:02 pm

    I’ve done a few, like I said though a lot haven’t been posted. They got lost and I got depressed. 🙁

    I find using people as a soundboard helps balancing characters and stories.

  96. Dillanon 14 Oct 2010 at 4:11 pm

    Yeah he basically has three powers:psychokinesis,telekinesis and telepathy the only problem is what he can use those powers to do?Each one has a number of abilities and capabilities that are achievable but with such a vague description i could theoretically say that he’s capable of all of them(making him way overpowered) thus i must balance him out by having a list of what he can achieve with these powers 🙂

  97. Rachel Mon 14 Oct 2010 at 4:17 pm

    Lightning Man- The woman is by birth a European countess, and fits very well into the title. She is a healer, but she can fight very well.

    Dr. Malady- I have my male character do something similar to your knife-in-the-arm trick.

    Dillan- I keep what can only be described as a dossier on all of my major characters. It helps to keep the facts straight.

  98. Dillanon 14 Oct 2010 at 4:23 pm

    Ha i like that a dossier, thanks rachel for the insight

  99. Rachel Mon 14 Oct 2010 at 4:26 pm

    Also, it just sounds so @^#* cool!

  100. Dr. Maladyon 14 Oct 2010 at 4:29 pm

    That’s… a lot. O.o I must ask what precisely is the difference between Psychokinesis and Telekinesis.

    I might say give him drawbacks to each power. Maybe a range limit too. Within so many feet or yards of himself.

  101. Dr. Maladyon 14 Oct 2010 at 4:33 pm

    @Rachel: Very nice. A dossier is always a good idea. My notes and everything are always so scattered. X.x But I still know my characters well without them. <3

  102. Dillanon 14 Oct 2010 at 4:55 pm

    @dr.malady psychokinesis is the ability to mentally influence or control,time,space,energy,matter,and molecular structures even control over the four fundamental forces of reality, telekinesis is the ability to mentally influence the physical aspects of reality with mental energies.As small as individual electrons in molecules to as large as say lifting several cars at once with your mind telekinesis is basically and extension of psychokinesis so is telepathy.With enough training,natural abilities and skill one could oventually achieve omnipotence(like the phoenix force is pure cosmic and psionic energy its capable of vast psionic feats such as lets say matter transmutation,using telekinesis to change matter from one substance to another.or on a more advanced level one could create life via molecular manipulation etc..reality warping is an extension of psychokinesis . That being said,it makes doing a psychic character difficult because they could easily go from being weak(barily able to levitate their own body weight to being able to dissapate the sun on a whim.) Sorry for the long explaination ive done a ton of research on psychic characters and powers and realized that its far more extensive then i used to think.:) although very interesting and challenging to write

  103. Dr. Maladyon 14 Oct 2010 at 5:38 pm

    Sorry for the delay, was eating. *nomnom* ^-^

    That is an interesting power and done well could be really awesome. But my first panic reaction was: “WTF GODMOD. *twitch* GIMP THAT NAO!”

    Personally, and this is only one person’s opinion, I’d say the psychokinesis is very very VERY minor. It’s one of those scary powers and I can only think of bad situations. ^^; “I think, therefore I am GOD.”

    And don’t feel too bad about my panic reaction. I;m used to beating my own characters and ideas into a semblance of control before unleashing them on anyone. *glares at Trapp*

  104. Dillanon 14 Oct 2010 at 5:43 pm

    Yeah im currently balancing it out now and although he’s very powerful some one with a sniper could take his ass out lol (headshot=instant death) no matter how powerful he gets he is still human and suseptible to all of the weaknesses of one

  105. Dillanon 14 Oct 2010 at 5:45 pm

    Oh and by the sniper shot he’d have to be unaware for it to get a clean kill

  106. Dr. Maladyon 14 Oct 2010 at 5:59 pm

    I can understand that. But most villains won’t be snipers. Most will be someone he is aware of won’t they? A standard I found (can’t remember where) was that if you can pit your character against one of the most powerful cannon characters and win, you’re too powerful. That being said, it’s not always a bad thing.

    I dug out my psychic character. I never put him in anything but he was a prophet of sorts that people could go to for help. Thing is, he is nearly catatonic. It looks like I wanted him to get up once in the story and obliterate something, but otherwise he just laid around all day unable to do anything besides view the world in his head. (Least there’s plenty of t.v. in there. x3)

  107. Dillanon 14 Oct 2010 at 6:38 pm

    Haha i like him being unable to move, my character needs medication to stabilize his powers otherwise be overwhelmed,he also constantly suffers from crippling migranes and if he loses control of his powers he is suseptible to his own illusions.He has precognitive dreams which makes it hard for him to sleep, he has to maintain a diet of 4000 calories a day to maintain his stamina reserves(both mental and physical).his telepathy radius is 250 miles but only picks up surface thoughts which can make it difficult for him to focus so he blocks it out most of the time. He can extend the radius but makes it extreamely difficult to focus on any one individual.Oh he can just telepathically read someones mind he has to shift and filter through surface thoughts and the subconscious.High willed characters can feel his mental probing and resist.maintain his abilities for long can strain him both menatlly and physically.He is suseptible to mental and physical fatigue. Teleporting can be dangerous if he doesn’t have a predetermined destination he could accidently wind up anywhere throughout the space-time continuum.He must consciously initiate his powers both offensive and defensive ,thus he has to be aware of the sniper bullet to raise a force field to deflect the shot.using his telekinesis to enhance his physical traits for long periods can cause massive physical stress if he doesn’t rest soon after.he has to impose limitations on his powers lest he subconsciously warps reality summoning the unthinkable. His control over his powers wane if he becomes exceedingly emotional,although he’s capable of intuitively using some of his more basic powers,like reading minds and levitating objects,he must train and study the depths of his powers to achieve greater abilities such as transmutting elements,overuse of his powers can quickly ravage his mind and body. Using his reality warping on vast scales is dangerous as the psionic energy creates a powerful blacklash. His more advanced powers take higher willpower(mental stamina)and concentration on achieve the desired effects. He’s capable of minor regeneration but if severely injured he can’t effectively use his powers due to the physical stress they cause on his mind and body. He can phase through objects but depending on the materials it could become more difficult and runs the risk of getting stuck(haha stuck in a wall) nor can he phase through certain energy fields. He’s also reliate on the pills he takes thus if unmedicated for long he’ll look like a crackhead trying to go sober(sweating, heavy breathing etc) his powers are slowly destroying his physical being and he’s addicted to using them. Due to his mind slowly transcending the physical reality he is becoming more and more mentally unstable.And any thing that overcomes his force fields can cause him to go unconscious (say if someone with superstrength smashed it. So these are just examples of limitations for my character,im hoping it balances him well. Id love your thoughts on his limitations btw and any other ideas for weaknesses or limitations

  108. Dr. Maladyon 14 Oct 2010 at 7:03 pm

    I love that bit about the powers are slowly destroying him. But that is still a lot. X.x It’s really late so I’m a bit overwhelmed on that. I’ll read through again tomorrow and hopefully have a coherent response. <3

  109. Dillanon 14 Oct 2010 at 7:13 pm

    Cool, cool thanks for the insight

  110. Dillanon 15 Oct 2010 at 12:54 pm

    Hey I need some help coming up with a psychic superhero title :(. I’m looking for something more symbolistic than say,something obvious like the mentalist

  111. Rachel Mon 15 Oct 2010 at 1:31 pm

    Dillan-Psyche? Omega? I’m drawing a blank, sorry.

  112. Dillanon 15 Oct 2010 at 1:39 pm

    Yeah same here, thanks though i like omega 🙂

  113. Dillanon 15 Oct 2010 at 1:41 pm

    Hey what do you think of harbinger?

  114. Rachel Mon 15 Oct 2010 at 1:58 pm

    Sounds tough, Spyros?

  115. Ragged Boyon 08 Nov 2010 at 8:02 am

    Well, Dillan if you want the name to be symbolic how about telling us what type of persona the character takes on when he becomes a superhero? For example, my superhero’s name is Showtime, that doesn’t tell you anything about the fact that he controls water, but what it does is give you an impression of the character. When Adrian becomes Showtime, he looses all inhibitions and epitomized a free spirit as well as dramatic character.

  116. Milanon 08 Nov 2010 at 9:59 am

    Cool, calculating mind/object reader: Glean.
    Twisted person who twists personalities: Whim Sickle.
    Suggestive enchanter: Afterthought.
    Speaks with the dead: No-Tales. (Dead men tell…)
    Predicts the future: Premise.

  117. Ragged Boyon 08 Nov 2010 at 11:29 am

    My new character, Van is inquisitive (knowledge-hungry), realistic, and haughty.

    Van’s thirst for knowledge is insatiable, while at in most situations his repetoire comes in handy, in others his own goals often force him to act in a counter-productive manner. For example, instead of fleeing a crumbling laboratory he would rather sift through files, documents, schematics looking for interesting data and worry about escaping later putting himself in jeopardy.

    He’s haughty in that he believes knowledge, in his setting, is a commodity and that not everyone should have open access to it. In his past he’s seen what too much knowledge can do to people (i.e. perverse genetic experimentation that scarred Earth and humanity). Although, his motives are based in what he thinks is commendable he is often condescending to those that can’t keep up with him intellectually.

    Van is irked by the notion of “make-believe”. Why fantasized about something that could never happen when you could instead work towards creating something of actual benefit. This quality would lead him to take initiative when others won’t, but also makes him come off a gloomy or cynical in some situations. Van doesn’t believe in sugar-coating a bitter reality.

    I’m just working on developing some characters so any feedback would be greatly appreciated. First off, does this sound like a pretty plausible and concise personality? Should I add more? Less? Or alter?

  118. Lighting Manon 08 Nov 2010 at 3:38 pm

    I think Van sounds interesting, Ragged Boy, kind of like an American Doctor Who but without the whimsy, but I think he could do well with a stronger flaw than his cynicism, it’s not really dynamic, and really only allows for him for him to get into situations other than those in which shortly after something bad has happened, an enemy is at the gates or something else negative is going on, he will be honest and cynical about the situation, and get glares. It can’t really get him into dangerous situations, or truly relationship damaging situations without gross overreactions by those he has expressed cynicism to or around.

    My suggestion for a more dynamic flaw would be some potential form of hypocrisy that ties into his cynicism and hatred of make-believe, something that he has to have that requires magical thinking in order to function properly, to give him the will to do everything that he does. This would allow for a multitude of situations that could affect the storyline or bring his flaw into focus. What if his compulsion for cynicism forces him to attack a fundamental element of his belief as he is being dreary to another? This could affect his performance and actions as he is forced to focus on the fact that his belief cannot be the way things are. He could be faced with something that strongly contradicts his hypocritical belief, and this causes him to rationalize away the evidence, disbelieve it or disregard it, making him miss vital evidence or clues, whichever it is that the character would be in pursuit of.

    Just a suggestion though, he certainly does sound well planned, however.

    Milan, a trick I like to use when creating or picking superhero names is to use it in a sentence, we can all imagine a character saying “Superman, get those hostages to safety!” Or, y’know, Batman, Spider-Man, Iron Man, Wolverine, all on down the line. It usually is a good indicator of, if not quality, than viability. Whereas, names that are mouthfuls and don’t really flow off the tongue tend to be less effective and appealing. I think that Afterthought is potentially a very good name, but Whim Sickle seems to be a bit of a mouthful and kind of nonsensical, even though I understand the kind of etymological thought process put into it. I don’t really have a suggestion for a better name, but perhaps something more strongly tied into the personality of the individual.

    Glean, I think is very problematic as a name because it is a very soft word, it kind of fades into the background and doesn’t offer very much. It doesn’t really hold the tongue the way a name should. Additionally, I think a name like No-Tales could work in a heavy fantasy setting, like a Lord of The Rings type world, but it’s very kitschy, and discombobulated, it would be very difficult to use in a modern day work.

    Just my opinions though.

  119. Milanon 08 Nov 2010 at 9:31 pm

    Thanks for the thoughts Lighting Man! I’d just tossed in some (mostly farcical) names to indicate that something of the personality would help when coming up with names for heroes. I’m not using any of these myself. Although “Glean” might work as a surname.

    Whim Sickle would take some suitably twisted writing to get a reader to buy into it – a personality that doesn’t seek to make sense. He’d have a Whim Sickle calling card. He’d be Whimmy to his friends, and Whim-Sicko to his enemies. Perhaps other heroes disagree with his perverse tactics.

    I agree the flow of a name is important, but I think I’d yell “Logan”, not “Wolverine” in a fight. And then there’s the outlier, “Martian Manhunter”… I’m not saying that.

  120. B. Macon 08 Nov 2010 at 10:18 pm

    I think “Martian Manhunter” is more of a title than a name. When conversing with him, most characters use “J’onn.”

  121. RBon 15 Nov 2010 at 11:29 am

    Thanks, Lighting Man. I did need a more dynamic flaw for him. Maybe that’s why I felt he didn’t stand out enough compared to his fellow characters who have more concise flaws.

    I would like to discuss this further, but I’m about to be late for class. Another time then.

  122. B. Macon 21 Nov 2010 at 1:14 pm

    “Is there any way to get any recognition from fan writting work.Id imagine itd probably have to be damned good but is it possible, however unlikely.” When you say recognition, do you mean by the publishers? If so, I’d probably say no. I’ve never heard of a publisher or franchise picking up an author because they were impressed by fan-fiction. Usually, when a franchise is looking for an author, they usually pick somebody whose published work has impressed them.

    Posting fan-fiction could get you recognition by the users on that website, but I definitely would not count on any decision-makers to notice.

  123. ekimmakon 15 Dec 2010 at 1:33 am

    I just realized that all the time I’ve spent here on this website, and I’ve written my own novel, yet I don’t know the definition of characterization.

  124. B. Macon 15 Dec 2010 at 4:52 am

    My working definition is “how characters are developed, especially their personality, voice and distinguishing traits.” Probably motivations and goals, as well.

  125. Rachelon 25 Feb 2011 at 7:54 pm

    Hello, first of all I would just like to say that I quite like this website, and since discovering it I’ve found it to be extremely helpful, though this is my first time actually commenting on here. I’m 14 years old and I’m homeschooled, so I have lots of time for reading and daydreaming up new ideas for story plots of characters, but I can never seem to be able to put any of my ideas down on paper. This is mostly due to the fact that I have very a very fickle and inconsistent way of coming up with plots, and because whenever I do manage to get it on paper it always seems like it sounded better in my head.

    The way I usually go about brainstorming is that I’ll begin by coming up with the characters first and then building the plot around them, and one character I’ve recently thought of is this boy who has an odd obsession with birds that he refuses to explain to anyone. The truth behind his fixation on them is that when he was a very young child, his mother would sing a lullaby to him about birds and because he remembered there being a wooden bird mobile above his bed. He remembers a very pretty sunlit cottage where he lived with his mother, and that there were all sorts of birds that would nest in the garden there. However, his mother later had to abandon him while he was still a young child.

    I still haven’t thought of a reason why she would feel the need to abandon him, though I’ve thought of making it a sort of “she abandoned him for his own safety” kind of thing, where his mother was involved in some sort of dangerous situation and had to flee. This could also lead to an explanation of why they would be living in this cottage in the middle of nowhere, in that she sought to escape from whatever nasty situation she was in (that later came back to find her again) in order to build a better life for herself after she discovered that she was pregnant. I also haven’t thought of who exactly he would be left with, and the only bit of actual plot I have for him is that he studies birds in order to find a kind of rare bird that he knows from his childhood, and that he hopes to trace back to his childhood home in order to find out more about where he comes from and what happened to his mother.

    I also haven’t quite decided what I’ll have happen to her yet in terms of whether she just disappears or that she dies, etc. Can you give me any advice on how I may be able to go into this plot further without making it sound too corny, and how I may be able to develop him in a way that would suit his circumstances…? Oh, and I’ll most likely wind up making this into a graphic novel as I’m not all that good at describing things in a novel sort of layout, and I’ve considered one scene including him eventually finding the small house he lived in with his mother, which has through the tine and elements become a dark and rundown version of the place he remembers. I’m considering Alexander Redwall as his name.

  126. B. Macon 26 Feb 2011 at 1:44 am

    I think the obsession with birds is interesting. As far as distinguishing traits go, it’s very distinct. 🙂

    I notice you haven’t mentioned the boy’s father yet. Perhaps the mother fled to the backwoods cottage to escape the father.

    Also, I notice that he has to use a bird to find his way to his childhood home. That suggests that he was taken from his childhood home by someone who doesn’t want him finding his way back there. (Otherwise, the easiest way to find the house would be just to ask his caretaker where it was, right?). Perhaps his father?

    Two possible reasons come to mind for why the caretaker might not want him headed that way: 1) because the caretaker is opposed to the mother or 2) because it’s too dangerous for the boy to go running off.

    As for developing the character, I don’t know very much about where Alex is and what he’s doing in the “now” of the story. I get the impression that he’s unhappy where he is (given that he’s desperately searching for his long-lost mother and obsessed with a symbol of freedom/escape). If so, what’s making him unhappy?

    In terms of corniness, the main thing I’d be worried about is if it turns out that he’s secretly some sort of royalty or the subject of a great prophecy.

    PS: Your proofreading skills are very strong.

  127. HarleyQon 26 Feb 2011 at 4:36 pm

    Hi guys! This is my first time posting on this website, and it’s mostly because I’m actually working on something while I’m reading it. XD

    I have two heroes, and my MC actually becomes a hero after the second MC.

    Let me pull out my handy-dandy writer’s notebook real fast…..


    Stephanie Nicholson (AKA Gala. This is the character I am a bit scared about making a Mary Sue. She’s the MC.)

    Positive Character Traits
    Helpful (Or at least, tries to be.)
    Curious (This may be able to go under both categories here…)

    Negative Traits (Flaws)

    Stephanie has black hair, green eyes, and fair colored skin. She’s a bit clumsy, and very smart. However, she is very scatterbrained, and cannot hold onto ideas for too long unless she focuses REALLY hard on them. She is a vigilante character, without powers, but very flexible and light on her feet from doing gymnastics when she was younger.

    Stephanie’s father is the police commissioner for her Empire City (Haven’t come up with a name for it yet), and as such she has resources to find out where criminals are thought to be, but it causes a problem, and she uses a voice changing technique when she is around him as Gala.

    As a rookie journalist, she has opened up a new pathway to find out what criminals are doing on the spot, though sometimes she is unable to help. She and Hunter usually appear at night, and sometimes they patrol through downtown of the city.

    One last thing about this character, is that she was not the first hero, Jack was (See him below), but she got the main character slot. If I remember correctly, because I’m not on my computer with my manuscript, she follows him when he sneaks out a week before High School graduation.

    And then:


    Jackson Gordon (AKA Hunter. Secondary MC)

    Positive Character Traits

    Character Flaws

    Jack is probably my favorite character because he is a very conflicted person. He is two different people, almost.

    Quoting from character bio (Mostly because I like this bit):

    “Jack is the character who is nice one moment, and then can have a total mood alteration. He and Hunter are almost two different people, with Jack being dark in actions and humor, and Hunter being the nicer, lighter side of him.”

    Jack is the only hero in this story that actually has powers. His origin story is complicated, but it deals with a kind of suppressive medication he took when he was younger. He has the ability to move objects with his mind, and communicate telepathically, but only to sensitive people. He can also pick up on a brain’s electrical currents. He, however, cannot read minds, unless he is very close(as in emotionally) to a person. He does also have to be physically touching a person in order to hear their thoughts.

    He likes to get things over with quickly, and that is one of his flaws other than what I listed earlier. This is initial laziness, and it leads to him getting defeated when he and Stephanie have a fight, and the team breaks up for a bit.


    I also want to know if it is okay is maybe you put more into your main villain (Nightwalker, in my case), than in your heroes when you first started off. I’ll put his bio later, if anyone wans to see it, along with the plot-line.

    All in all I think these two characters could us a LOT more work.

    Any ideas?

  128. Castilleon 26 Feb 2011 at 8:45 pm

    I have a question regarding character characterization.

    Is it really ok for one of my protagonists(Gregory Martin) to keep making obscure Literature references?
    (An example would be that he would tell another character to “not be a Mitch to her Blanche”.)

    I’m kind of worried that since apparently nobody reads literature any more, the whole thing would be lost on them.

    Should I back away from using Lit references in my dialouge or not?

  129. HarleyQon 27 Feb 2011 at 11:30 am

    Well, the obscure references, especially if people get them, are funny, but like you said, it may just fly over their heads. For people who do get them, though, it may make him either seem intelligent and cultured, or like a…. what’s the French word for shower again?

    Other than that, it should be fine, though I’m in eighth grade….

  130. B. Macon 27 Feb 2011 at 1:37 pm

    If he’s a very literate and/or well-educated character, I like the idea of using a few literary references to show that. However, in the few chapters I’ve read so far, he doesn’t come off as noticeably more literate than the others.

    Also… I would only use references that mean something to your prospective readers. For example, your target audience is superhero action fans, right? I’m pretty sure that 95%+ of us haven’t read A Streetcar Named Desire. If you’re going to use the reference to Streetcar, I would recommend doing so in such a way that readers that aren’t familiar with the work would know what you’re trying to say. Would your target audience know what the character means when he tells someone not to be a Mitch to her Blanche? If I could gratuitously throw in a much less literary example from my own work, I think this scene’s Superman reference is funny and easy to follow even if you aren’t that familiar with Superman.

  131. Castilleon 27 Feb 2011 at 2:22 pm

    I just thought of a much subtler way I could incorporate a streetcar reference. My chapter’s almost done, but I just of the best line to use in it.

    (He’s referring to someone’s tent that just got completely trashed)

    “You left nothing in there, unless it was your freedom and dignity. Want it back?”

    Completely paraphrasing, I know. Confusing out of context too, but trust me. You will get it once you read the chapter once its done by tonight.

    By the way, what do you think of the story so far?

  132. B. Macon 27 Feb 2011 at 3:32 pm

    “By the way, what do you think of the story so far?”

    –The premise feels interesting so far.

    –I think the wilderness is a fresh backdrop for a superhero story. It increases the danger level. I would recommend working some description of the setting into the story, though.

    –The characters’ voices sort of blur together to me. I think Mendoza may be the biggest opportunity here–He’s a megalomaniac storyteller, so he should have a flair for the creative, right? What’s Reyes’ educational background like? (If he’s the most blue-collar of the party, he should sound like it). Are there any ways you can use Amber’s language to suggest that she doesn’t look at the world just like a regular human would? My rule of thumb is that well-voiced characters usually sound different enough that readers can generally tell who’s saying what even if you cut out the dialogue tags (like “Reyes said”). If the characters are speaking and acting distinctly, readers should be able to say, “Oh, that’s totally something that Reyes would say.”

    –I think the characters’ personalities could show up more clearly. For example, perhaps they could make more difficult and/or unusual and/or unique decisions? So far, I think I’ve only noticed one major decision so distinct that only one character would have done it: Mendoza kidnapping several (dangerous) people and racing into the wilderness to document an even more dangerous monster. What’s something Gregory does that only Gregory would do?* Reyes? Claire?

    *I think you hit on something when you had Gregory refuse to kill Amber before getting Reyes on-board, even after werewolf Amber is about to kill him. That’s an interesting and unusual decision, but it doesn’t have a good reason yet. The current explanation (that the FBI strictly prohibited taking down werewolves before their human associates are neutralized) feels a bit shaky** and takes the decision out of Greg’s hands. He’s just following orders. I think it’d be more interesting if you gave the decision to Gregory. Why is he reluctant to kill Amber before getting Reyes’ okay? Why does Reyes’ opinion matter so much to him? Alternately, if he is just following orders, why do his orders mean so much to him that he’d put his life in terrible jeopardy for them?

    **For example: Why would the FBI issue such an order? Why is it so important that they neutralize the human associates first? Why would Gregory obey this rule even though it is likely to get him killed? If Gregory is a competent and high-ranking FBI agent, why did he just happen to forget about this major rule?

  133. cool don 28 Feb 2011 at 1:56 pm

    hi i wanted to know what you felt about this origin and character. i’ve already got all my characters and plot ready just wanted improvement. here it is:
    The protagonist at a younger age was an action junkie. His family owned an electrical goods industry, one one fateful day the protagonist over hears his father talking with one of his business partners, the business partner threatened the protagonists dad. the protagonist decides to do something about it and goes after the business partner. the protagonists father finds out about this and goes after him, and sees that his son has been held captive he tries to help and releases his son and tells him to get the police. by the time he arrives he sees his dead fathers body on the ground, this scars him mentally and he blames himself.

    THe time fast forwards and the protagonist has gotten older and he has matured. he gets fired from his job as a delivery boy and feels its all his luck. later on his mum gets kidnapped by the same business partner. the protagonist by this time has trained his self to take care of goons and troublemakers that disturb him. he also inherited his fathers vast knowledge of technolog and uses this to save his mother.the protagonists cousin soon tells him that he should use this his skills and knowledge for a purpose. “even a nobody can make a difference” drives the protagonist as well as a way to avenge his father.

    this has been copyrighted.

    so what do you think

  134. cool don 28 Feb 2011 at 1:59 pm

    thanks it was a rough draft. i just wanted to know if it was quite good and original. Also what job do you think i could give him to distinguish between peter parker and him. i wanted a deviation from the normal super hero, so i decided not to give him powers just brains which usually annoy his friends because he usually forgets that they dont understand his technology talk, he also gets overconfident at times. He builds his own weapons that is why i gave his family ownership of a mechanical/electronic industry so he has the materials. The protagonist doesn’t particularly have a super hero costume, just sunglasses/goggles to protect his eyes from debris, kevlar “borrowed” from the police, and the use of a hood occasionally, but it will be stylishly designed so it will be noticeable among other comic books.
    any thing else you think i could add …

  135. HarleyQon 28 Feb 2011 at 4:40 pm

    I laughed when I saw the word “borrowed.” rofl

    A way to distinguish him from Peter Parker, eh? Well, Peter IS a photo-journalist. Maybe he could be an article journalist, as opposed to taking pictures for the articles?

    Or do you even want him in the newspaper/news industry, because if he worked for his families business, during breaks he could “borrow” pieces and make his weapons.

    BTW EPIC origin story. I like it! xD

  136. Nicholas Caseon 28 Feb 2011 at 5:28 pm

    I feel that there is a better way to handle backstory rather than fast forwarding. If you must fast forward, I would stick with around 5 pages at the most. Also I hope you don’t find this offensive but I find him a little one-dimensional. From what I inferred he’s smart, caring…and vengeful? Vengeful isn’t generally a preferable bad trait because,

    1.Anyone can be vengeful, which is why I find it hard to consider a trait.

    2. I’ve seen about 10 other nice people who become revenge-driven and kill some punk, what distinguishes him from any other one? (That’s a rhetorical question)

    About his mother being kidnapped, does she get killed or not? If she dies, you kill one important thing along with it…the sense of urgency. (Unless he has to kill them before they get away, but why would he do it just over revenge? That works better in movies than writing.) If she doesn’t, why would they keep her alive long enough for the hero to save her?

  137. Rosegirlon 19 Mar 2011 at 11:40 am

    I’ve created three characters for a comedy super-hero TV script, and I was wondering what you thought of them, and if I could improve them.

    Gordon is a middle-aged, balding super-hero who is clumsy and somewhat stupid at times. He stumbles into the evil plots with ease, and has a tendency to only rescue attractive younger women. Gordon goes by the super-hero name ‘Power’ (Pronounced Pow-ah), and is known as the ‘leader’ of the Defense Trio, although a different super-hero is really the backbone of the organization. He is married to a supervillainess, Carol, although he fails to realize this. Gordon is very cliche, and believes that everything he sees in comic books are real. He is prone to shouting for help from various fictional characters including Superman, Batman and Wolverine. In his day job, he is works in insurance, and he lives in a normal suburban house with his wife and two super-powered children. He wears the same outfit of Superman with a P on his chest and the color scheme as yellow and green. He refuses to wear a mask, thinking it will hinder his ability to fight, and gets in fight with other super-heroes over tactics often. Gordon does not enjoy actually doing anything while rescuing people- he just likes to claim credit. He can fly, has moderate super-strength and is very slow running. His secret weakness is bananas.

    Douglas is Gordon’s eight year old son, the backbone of the Defense Trio and a brave, selfless guy who does his best to save the world. He fights often with his big sister, and like his father believes everything in the movies and comic books are real. He is constantly running around on rooftops, waiting for a crime to happen so he can save people. Douglas is super-fast, capable of infiltrating other people’s dreams, and super-strong- but only when he is in contact with latex. Otherwise, he is as strong as an ordinary eight-year old. Because of this, he wears a latex wet-suit as a costume, and an eye-mask. He goes by the name of ‘The Missile’. Douglas does his best to be a hero, but is constantly in the shadow of his father, Gordon, who is always claiming credit for Douglas’ success. Douglas’ secret weakness is homework.

    Katrina is Gordon’s fifteen year old daughter, a silent, genre savvy girl who is constantly exasperated at the cliches and stereotypes surrounding her. She is known for running on rooftops, and for being amazingly nonchalant in the face of danger. Katrina hardly ever shows any reaction to anything, prompting the theory from her father and brother that she is a mutant alien cyborg sent from space to assassinate Superman. She is moderately fast, and moderately strong, with the ability of melting or exploding things by staring at them too long and the ability to read playing cards by touching them. Katrina goes by the super-hero name of Alleycat. She wears all black street clothes, tough boots and motorcycle gloves, as well as a bullet-proof full-face mask. She is always the one to predict something about to happen, such as ‘that jagged piece is going to come in handy, you might want to pick it up just in case, hide it somewhere on your person when you are tied up, then use it to saw your way through your bonds and escape.’ Katrina’s secret weakness is lack of motivation- she doesn’t see the point of rescuing people unless there’s something in it for her, etc.

  138. Nicholas Caseon 19 Mar 2011 at 6:26 pm

    He seems a bit too retarded, but since this is a comedy, I’ll let it slide.

    I recommend being a bit more creative with his suit. People will stereotype it as a bad Superman parody.

    His job is fine, but I would recommend a more ‘hands-on’ job to show how clumsy he is (like being responsible for loading fragile items into trucks.)

    I like the weakness, but why can’t he just wear a latex glove rather than wearing an entire suit? Then again, he may want to keep his identity a secret. However, this comes off 1-dimensional because nearly EVERY superhero wants to keep his powers a secret. To add some uniqueness here, maybe he can be careless when using his powers in public, or even showboat them around in public.

    Douglas sounds somewhat, purely heroic. Unlike the other two, he doesent really have a downside (I’m not entirely sure by what you meant when you said “homework”). Maybe giving him some flaws will help.

    I feel she is the best balanced character in the trio. I just think the “hunch” power is a bit to potent, maybe she would be a bit more unsure of her hunch, or not be that descriptive.

    Also, how it she their sister and daughter if she’s an alien mutant cyborg?

  139. B. Macon 19 Mar 2011 at 7:54 pm

    –Gordon might be a bit short on likability. He’s clumsy, somewhat stupid, sounds sort of like a bimbo (mainly rescues attractive women, etc), more focused on claiming credit than saving people, etc. I don’t think that a comedy’s characters necessarily NEED to be likable (such as Seinfeld’s Costanza having no redeeming virtues), but it may be a tougher sell. (For one thing, Costanza was a side-character, and the main character and most of the cast were pretty likable, I felt).

    –The relationship between the three reminds me a bit of Inspector Gadget, a somewhat dumb protagonist that gets help from his daughter and her implausibly smart dog. (He was more endearing/well-intentioned than Gordon, though).

    –The conflict between Douglas and Gordon (claiming Douglas’ credit) sounds unusual. I like it. In real-life, there’s at least one gloryhound in pretty much every organization, but I think it’d be a fresh angle for a superhero team.

    –Is this cartoon or live-action? What’s the target audience like? (If it’s a cartoon, I’d imagine the target audience would probably be 8-13 guys. If so, it may help to soften the edges on Douglas somewhat to make him a more relatable point of access for the audience).

    “I like the weakness, but why can’t he just wear a latex glove rather than wearing an entire suit?” Maybe only his hand would be superpowered? (If you wanted to delve into the science there, most of the force for a punch doesn’t come from the hand itself).

    –Nick, I think the theory that she’s an alien cyborg is meant to sound deliberately ridiculous, either to suggest that they’re completely out of touch with reality or that they’re being facetious.

  140. Nicholas Caseon 19 Mar 2011 at 8:45 pm

    I thought of that, but I didn’t think you’d go that far. Maybe he could use super thumps to win!

  141. Aineon 24 May 2011 at 10:26 am

    Gordon reminds me of Don Quixote, so it should be funny.

  142. Aineon 24 May 2011 at 9:07 pm

    She could be adopted. That’s a perfectly logical explanation.

  143. Freshon 29 May 2011 at 8:41 pm

    Mhmm I’m writing a novel involving superhumans, and some are villains. I have no clue how to develop hte villains one’s who just abuse their abilities, and cruise around doing as they please no ulterior motives such as taking over the world, just doing as they please.

    How can I develop them? And actually for heroes who have no ulterior motives in life?

  144. B. Macon 29 May 2011 at 10:07 pm

    “I have no clue how to develop villains that just abuse their abilities, and cruise around doing as they please without ulterior motives such as taking over the world.” Hmm. While a bit thin, I think that could work for a minor villain. However, for the main antagonists, I would recommend something a bit more ambitious, something that will threaten something the heroes care about in a really direct way. That can be an epic bit of evilness, like threatening to blow up the world, but it can definitely be smaller in scale and not conventionally villainous. For example, Captain Hammer is a hero-as-antagonist that threatens villain-as-protagonist Dr. Horrible in two main ways: 1) He’s taking advantage of the only woman Horrible cares about and 2) He’s the main obstacle to Horrible accomplishing his main goal of joining the Evil League of Evil. (Hey, it’s a comedy).

  145. Freshon 30 May 2011 at 1:58 pm

    Well this is a more realistic setting, there’s not people running around in spandex trying to save the world, the main feel around this story is revenge, and doing whatever the hell you want to with your newfoud power.

    So I need to give the characters goals, basically there people who have been framed, or their lives are ruined, but then they gain powers.

  146. Neilon 12 Jul 2011 at 8:43 pm

    Hello everyone. First off, I want to sincerely thank the author for posting the article. It was very insightful and had helped me. Also, I would like to extend this thank to this entire site. It is a great place to learn storytelling, not just for superheroes and fantasy, but a wide range of other genres.

    So enough of my babbling and allow me to get on with it. First off, in terms of my character, I’m quite nervous. I feel as if I know my main characters inside an out. But I’m afraid that may not, given that one person who I’ve previously spoken to, disagreed otherwise.

    The two qualities that one can note is his carefree attitude.

    He’s the type of guy who shrugs off most of things and isn’t quick to anger. However, he’s not a pushover for when push comes to shove, he’ll react. Next, he’s the person who goes with the flow and typically likes to take things as they come.

    However, on a negative note, he’s quite absent-minded. This is to the extent where he daydreams during normal conversations.

    He also has a catchphrase. Every time he’s in a bad spot he says (and I do pardon my language) “Glorif***k.” The phrase is short for “Glorious F***k”.

    Another quality about my character that can be pulled from the list above is that he’s conventional. He’s the guy who’s not driven nor is he looking for flash. He’s just ordinary, everyday.

    Another negative quality that is present is that he’s a bit reckless. This is present during his superhero career, as he’ll charge into a situation without fully considering the consequences.

    Now, to briefly pause, are those good qualities? I understand if they need to be developed more. But I do not wish to develop a Mary Sue nor do I want some who’s perfect and powerful.

    In terms of his superpower, I was thinking of going a bit abstract. His ability is that he can manipulate solar energy.

    Now, I know this can be very difficult. Aside from Superman to my knowledge, there isn’t a whole lot of sun-based superheroes.

    Hopefully I can implement his abilities into some creative ways. In terms of weaknesses, this was a bit of a change, but I think I’ve nailed.

    For the first part, Derek ( the name of my character) are known to deplete quickly. This factor off course normally isn’t a problem when it’s daytime, given he absorbs solar and other infrared radiation.

    But in situations when he’s fighting at nighttime this changes. He has to be careful how to use his powers, lest he becomes powerless till he sees sunlight.

    I also think this is a good weakness for Derek mentally has a phobia of the dark, due to the shady (no pun intended) past he had to deal with.

    Seeing as his powers are based off the sun, Derek’s abilities emit UV radiation. This off course doesn’t bode well for normal people, as if Derek is careless in his ability use he can either blind them, or enable them to develop carcinogens, like skin cancer.

    The next weakness is that while immune to sources to heat and radiation, he’s suspect able from factors caused from heat and radiation. To better put this in perspective, while not affected by the heat of the flames, the smoke and carbon monoxide that is exerted will certainly do so.

    Finally, in terms of his powers, given that he produces a large amount of radiation and heat. This is important for enemies who have sufficient tracking gear can locate him.

    I use this weakness mainly as a narrative one, for being that the enemy (who’s extraterrestrial) has robots with infrared capabilities, my main character has to think twice, before going about using his powers.

    Well, that’s all I have. I apologize if the message was too long. Hopefully, he’s not becoming a Mary sue.

    P.S: in terms of Derek’s friend. I was looking for a nerd like character, but someone who’ll break the sterotype. Like for example, many nerds are reserved, introverted and distant.

    This archetype I was hoping he be charismatic, friendly and intelligent.

    I once more apologize for this, but I was wondering if that is possible.

  147. B. Macon 13 Jul 2011 at 12:56 am

    Hello, Neil.

    You said your character is conventional. First, is he actually conventional? (His catchphrase is “glorif***,” right?) Second, how does his conventionality affect the plot? For example, one way to use it would be to use it as a point of conflict between him and a less normal character (or characters). Or maybe the character is pushed into unusual situations and struggles to adapt to them.

    In general, his traits may feel sort of random to me? Is there something unifying them? For example, could you describe the character’s concept in a sentence? (In the article above, the character is a philosophical, rugged and asocial guy struggling with physical disfigurement. All of those traits have something to do with his central conflict and/or majorly affect how he deals with it).

    I find it interesting that he has to conserve his powers at night. Especially because most violent crimes occur after sundown. It sounds like an interesting obstacle for him to overcome.

    “I was hoping [his friend] would be charismatic, friendly and intelligent.” Does he have any flaws? (For example, Tony Stark is refreshingly charismatic for a brilliant scientist, but also irresponsible).

  148. Neilon 13 Jul 2011 at 2:25 pm

    @ B.Mac

    First off, I want to thank so much for responding. Your advice has really helped me put things into perspective.

    With that said, I see your point. Despite having qualities, there needs to be some unifying factor between them, somewhat like the bread in a sandwich.

    I’ll admit this is going to be tough, but if I were to describe my character in one sentence it would be the following:

    “Derek is carefree, laid back individual who may come off as reckless and inattentive, but are symptoms of him trying to find his place.”

    Hopefully, that’s a better description. If not, I am open to advice as to how to rectify it.

    For my main character’s friend in terms of his flaws, I was thinking he could come off as a bit flirtatious towards women and that can hold him back.

    Next, I was also thinking he could be envious of certain things. This from a plot perspective can point towards the main character and his powers, but also to regular life.

  149. ekimmakon 21 Aug 2011 at 4:05 pm

    Okay, I have a bit of a side project here.

    I always had a knack for video games, and have even gotten around to designing a few. Nothing major, or even published, but it’s a hobby. Something that I’ve been thinking about is a fantasy RPG, where you control person who runs the dark empire filled with trolls, skeletons, and dark elves, rather than the hero who’s trying to overthrow it. I’m just uncertain about how to develop her, and her forces.

    (Do I want a justification for her conquest, or just because she can? Should I make her unneccesarily evil, or make her the victim? Are the legions of darkness misunderstood, or just as evil as the legends say they are?)

  150. Emmaon 31 Aug 2011 at 11:05 pm

    Hi there. I am in desperate need of help in developing my character. I’m not sure why, but I’m having immense difficulty creating an interesting and relatable character. It’s hard for me to create a character that has enough depth to drive a plot. I plan to use this superhero for an online MMORPG, aka online roleplaying. After reading the responses you guys have given, I am confident that I can be helped. I’d appreciate the help very much!

    Name: Sarah
    Powers: Kinetics
    Species: Human

    History: Ever since she was a child, Sarah’s authoritarian parents have been living their unfulfilled dreams though their daughter. Sarah was pushed to earn top scores in school and to partake in several sports. As a result, Sarah is self-sufficient, a leader, strong-willed, resentful of authority, hates when others try to control her, and loves freedom, though still maintains a sense of discipline when needed.

    How powers manifest1: One day when playing (high school or college?) softball during tournament, she hits the ball inhumanly far. No one, not even Sarah, knew she had super powers. This genetic abnormality manifested out of the blue. She is feared by her school and her closest ex-friends. Result…?


    How powers manifest2: One day Sarah can’t take it anymore. She’s plain sick of the control issued by her parents. The only motivation she has to not rebel against her parents is that they are paying for her schooling (if we say she’s in college) and hang gliding. Hang gliding is her favorite past-time and escape from the control, which is why she is more willing to not rebel. So, since Sarah can’t take it anymore, she decides to go to a party with some friends, initially plan to drink, only to realize it could jeopardize her reputation, so she decides not to. However, someone rats out the party, and even though Sarah didn’t drink, by association she is thrown in jail. She didn’t do anything wrong, so she feels the punishment is unjustified. The police are not kind to her. In a small act of rebellion, she spits at the officers’ feet. This angers them and they aggressively take action. Sarah is caught off guard, tries to defend herself, and this is when her powers manifest. She ends up severely wounding (or killing?) a cop. Sarah is officially an outcast and must find refuge. (From here she has to go to a city in another dimension. How can I work that in?)

    I have no idea where to go from here :\ Everything just feels thrown together, like there’s not enough impact to develop her. I don’t know enough about her to determine her attitude towards life. As in, she’s kind of shallow if she’s just this gruff rebellious character. That’s only one aspect of her. And not knowing that much impacts how well she will be able to interact with other characters. I don’t know her goals or her ambitions. Not knowing any of this is making it EXTREMELY difficult to formulate a working personality for her. I feel like I’m going in circles or like my head is in a fog in developing her.

    Help, please? Suggestions on what I should change?

  151. B. McKenzieon 01 Sep 2011 at 10:30 am

    “Hi there. I am in desperate need of help in developing my character. I’m not sure why, but I’m having immense difficulty creating an interesting and relatable character. It’s hard for me to create a character that has enough depth to drive a plot. I plan to use this superhero for an online MMORPG, aka online roleplaying.” A caveat: I have no idea what that will entail, so I’ll try to help you like this were a main character of a novel or a comic book and please adjust my advice to your medium as you see fit.

    –“Sarah is self-sufficient, a leader, strong-willed, resentful of authority…” Where do those traits come from? If she’s been raised by authoritarian parents, I would think it’d be more intuitive that she’s NOT strong-willed or a leader. Her parents have tried to push her to do things rather than make her own decisions, right? One explanation for this possible discrepancy is that she’s really unhappy with the choices that her parents are pushing on her. But why? (One possibility that comes to mind is that she’s interested in doing things that don’t line up with their priorities. Maybe she REALLY wants to be competitive at poker or Magic or something else that wouldn’t particularly impress college admissions boards).

    –“She hits the ball inhumanly far. No one, not even Sarah, knew she had superpowers… She is feared by her school and her closest ex-friends.” Why? As far as superpowers goes, it doesn’t seem particularly dangerous. Particularly if it only came out in the middle of a softball game–that suggests she has fairly good control of it. If you’d like her to be feared, it might help to work something a bit scarier into how she gets discovered. Maybe she accidentally hits a line drive that breaks somebody’s ankle.

    –If the conflict with her controlling parents is a major aspect of the story, I think making her a high school senior might be better than a college student. Most college students don’t live with their parents or interact with them terribly often.

    –You called the power kinetics, but I’m having trouble understanding how it’s different than superstrength. Is there a distinction?

    –“Species: Human.” I wouldn’t mention this unless the character isn’t human. Readers can assume it, right?

    –“she decides to go to a party with some friends, initially plan to drink, only to realize it could jeopardize her reputation, so she decides not to.” Umm, this doesn’t feel believable for most colleges. At college, drinking is common enough that I find it hard to believe many people would hold it against her if she drank responsibly. Maybe there’s something unusual going on, like she’s at Brigham Young or is the designated driver. (Yeahhhh, designated drivers. Like an ambulance, you get us where we’re going).

    –Severely wounding (or, God help her, killing) a cop would change the tone quite significantly compared to an innocent softball game where nobody got hurt. For one thing, she’d be an outlaw/fugitive rather than merely frowned upon by friends.

    –“she has to go to a city in another dimension. How can I work that in?” Uhh, that seems like a REALLY exotic element to just sort of randomly work in. I’d recommend tying it into the origin story. For example, maybe somebody from another dimension pops in, the cops overreact, and she gets involved (because of something tied to her personality) and accidentally hurts a cop in the ensuing brawl. The extradimensional stranger may offer to take her back. (Maybe not right away, though–maybe she runs away after hurting a cop and it takes the stranger a day or so to find her. That’ll give her a chance to let you have her fend for herself rather than just getting saved as soon as the going gets rough).

    –You mentioned that she’s a leader. It might help to add something to her background that suggests that, or at least suggests that her interpersonal skills are pretty good. If she can’t even convince her friends to stick with her after she hits a softball out of the park, just how good are her leadership skills? That’s not exactly Tebow-grade, I feel. (He rallied his football team to a national championship after an EXTREMELY upsetting loss to a mediocre team. Many teams have been emotionally derailed by less).

    I hope that helps.

  152. Comicbookguy117on 01 Sep 2011 at 9:54 pm

    Thanks for the input B.Mac. I really appreciate it. Everyone has to start somewhere and I thank you for taking the time to help me learn.

    So you know, thanks. If you ever need a favor from me don’t hesitate to ask ok?

  153. B. McKenzieon 02 Sep 2011 at 8:04 am

    Sure, thanks. I’m guessing the favor will be to buy a copy of my book when it comes out, but that’s a ways away.

  154. Comicbookguy117on 02 Sep 2011 at 10:39 am

    Haha. Sure thing.

  155. Comicbookguy117on 02 Sep 2011 at 8:01 pm

    Hey B.Mac just letting you know that I’ve e-mailed a revused script to you for review. Thanks for your time and attention.

  156. Natalieon 01 Oct 2011 at 8:54 am

    Im scared to ask O_o, but I will anyway. I got these 5 characters who’s had certain problems in their lives. Some were just born with bad social skills and anxieties of other people. And some just received their fears and social disabilities from past experiences. My main character is Aniya, a energetic but sort of depressed girl who has an interest in guns (Not to shoot people, but for some odd reason she’s fascinated by them. Don’t know why yet)

    The kids also have an odd mindset on how they do things, they all go through the day differently. And they deal with people differently (Aniya deals with people like she’s in some trans..) (Don’t know how yet, I’m not done plotting it :o) The kids get their powers (which all has to do with the same basic element) whenever they feel challenged by other people socially their powers are optional whether they can use it on people or not.

    But if they use it, their power will get stronger and give them more pride and eventually destroy them.

    The kids learn that they are no different than other people. And don’t let others make you feel that they are better than you. (I dunno just a theme)

  157. Nicholas Caseon 01 Oct 2011 at 11:06 am


    I can’t really give you much of an honest opinion simply because your not done with your plot. However, I recommend you build your plot in these steps

    1. Find your setting. What time is this occuring in? In the paleolithic age, medeval, modern, furture-when? Also where? In british columbia, bolivia, canada, where?

    2. Find your inspiration. Its best to find some aspect or some point in the story you want to reach. Something that will inspire you to finish your story.

    3. Create your main characters. How do you want them to sound. How will their voice reflect their personality? Dont focus on how they look until you have their voice and personality down…

    4. What’s the challenge? What is the goal of the story. The reason this comes AFTER the main character’s creation is because when writers create their goals before they even have a clue what their main character is, they more than likely will make the character fit the plot-making it easier for the character to succeed.

    5. Does he/she succeed? This will be end of your plot developement and you will be ready to write! 😀

  158. Natalieon 01 Oct 2011 at 11:33 am

    Oh okay, thanks for the tips. They are really good, it’s just I’m not sure if I can apply to number 3 I already know what they will look like (I had them in my head since last Spring) they just had no personalities, I had fragments of what their personalities would be. Should I re-do their physical traits after I’ve figured out their personalities?

  159. Nicholas Caseon 04 Oct 2011 at 6:56 pm

    Sorry for the sluggish reply Natalie. Anywho I think you could save their physical appearences. But what I reccommend is to build from what you have. May you please tell me what your main characters personalities (well, fragments I should say) are. However if you want to start over with their personalities then here’s what you should do.

    1. Go somewhere it is quiet. No TVs, no music-nothing but queit.

    2.Lie/sit down and close your eyes. Try and invision places that add up the the amount of main characters you have and make a mental note (or write it down if you have terrible memory, have many main characters, ect. ) of what you imagined.

    3. Make it a jigsaw puzzle. Imagine each character (with as many physical features as you can imagine for them) and see if they fit well. Do they seem in their element? Does it feel natural for you and your character.

    4. Base their personalities from their environment they are in. For example-if they fit best in, say, a mansion-they would probably be a huge snob, or they could be a workoholic and feel it instinctive to obey others who are over them. Its simple-but just remember this. It is good for them to have 2 bad traits and 1 good trait. Why? No one wants to read about a pure hero who goes out his way to help anyone and is always the good one in everyone’s eyes. They would rather hear about a total coward with a great power but he’s to lazy to train to utilize it. See? Much more weird and interesting than just a normal do-gooder.

  160. Nicholas Caseon 04 Oct 2011 at 7:01 pm

    @ Natalie

    Also, I think you should spend more time with your characters once you have their personality. In fact-every night I spend at least 20 minutes sitting in my bed imagining my characters doing different things-interacting with eachother, throwing different obstacles at them, anything! Once you establish that relationship with them-ideas come by faster than bullets. 😀

  161. Grenacon 04 Oct 2011 at 7:03 pm

    Hey I do that too! Except it’s more like every time I have the chance lol. I go to sleep that way too :B

  162. Mynaon 04 Oct 2011 at 7:14 pm

    Haha, I do that a bit myself… xDDD I’ve found out some pretty whack things about my cast that way, too

  163. Grenacon 04 Oct 2011 at 7:39 pm

    I found out Iathe is a great cook, she has wide hips and she is so not flexible.

    I also found out Keegan had parents >_>

  164. Mynaon 05 Oct 2011 at 2:23 am

    WHOA! Did not see that coming. What are his folks like?

  165. Grenacon 05 Oct 2011 at 3:03 am

    Very doting and meddling. He’s their only child, so they tend to spoil him a lot. Of course, this was ‘uncool’ once he was 12-13 >_< They're very nice people and the father is the one with the powers, although he is retired C:

  166. Grenacon 05 Oct 2011 at 3:07 am

    I also found out he isn’t a virgin *cough cough*

    But Ianthe is and she doesn’t believe in sex before marriage C: (Go, Ianthe! Self-control ftw!)

  167. Natalieon 05 Oct 2011 at 5:52 am

    Thanks for the advice Grenac, you don’t have to apologize for things like that anyway. 😮

  168. Natalie Sandyuson 05 Oct 2011 at 4:02 pm

    Oops I’m sorry I meant Nicholas Case. Sorry >w< and no need to apologize

  169. Nicholas Caseon 05 Oct 2011 at 5:37 pm


    LOL jk Natalie. If you have any questions let me know ok?

  170. Rogon 23 Oct 2011 at 10:10 pm

    hey, I’m trying to make the protagonist who is suppose to become the leader of his tribe around the beginning of the story. the tribe works like a concil, electing who they see fit to act as a head of it. What im getting stuck at is how to get him elected. he’s suppose to be a good-hearted and wise man but shy and quiet. I could really use some help on this.

  171. B. Macon 24 Oct 2011 at 8:06 am

    Maybe there’s something significant he does that results in him getting elected/chosen. How do people usually get selected for this position?

  172. CCOlsonon 24 Oct 2011 at 11:20 am

    When you use “tribe”, are you indicating that these are a relatively primitive people?

    Shy and quiet are normally traits that get you immediately exempted from being elected as anyone’s leader, as shy at least is antithetical to good leadership. Quiet can be useful if it also indicates “listens well”, but a good leader must have confidence and must be a social initiator, either leading the charge or spurring others to move in the right direction. Most people sense the confidence part instinctively.

    However, if a people are very ritualistic then he could have satisfied some ancient test of leadership that recommends him for the position.

    Or if they are very spiritual then a consult with higher powers could recommend him for the position.

    Or if they are superstitious then a profound omen could convince the people that he should be the leader.

  173. Rogon 24 Oct 2011 at 11:59 am

    I guess I could x the shy part and replace it with cautious, and Iwas going to do the whole ” consult a higher power” thing, with probably the protagonist or a shaman obtaining a spiritual message , but it sort of came off as a “chosen one” senerio, but the ritual one seems to help alot, what rituals do you think could work?

  174. Rogon 24 Oct 2011 at 3:40 pm

    I probably either going to do it ritualisticly or through a democratic election

  175. B. McKenzieon 25 Oct 2011 at 1:08 am

    “Shy and quiet are normally traits that get you immediately exempted from being elected as anyone’s leader…” It suggests that he could be a fish out of water, which I think might be more interesting than seeing someone that is super-suitable for the position. Also, shyness and quietness might not be a huge liability in some leadership positions. For example, I would imagine (stereotype) that the head researcher on something like the Dead Sea Scrolls is more distinguished for his scholarly acumen than his gregariousness*. It depends on what traits the choosers are most interested in, what the situation is, and what the candidate has already done (i.e. what he brings to the table).

    *A total guess. I’ve never met him/her, obviously. And, if I did, I’d probably inadvertently say something boneheaded like “how can a scroll be dead?”

  176. CCOlsonon 25 Oct 2011 at 10:39 am

    To avoid chosen one syndrome you could combine “consult with higher power” with a “ritual challenge”. So, consult with the spirits, or just consult with the elders, and they decide that the person who completes challenge X will be the next leader. You then get to showcase your character as he faces this challenge and overcomes it using his specific personality and abilities, maybe completing the requirements with a twist. Gives the reader some good solo time with the protagonist.

    An example I thought of goes:

    Challenge: There is a direwolf that has been raiding the livestock around the village. Whoever brings the head of this wolf to the tent of meeting is our new leader.

    So, hero sets out to kill the direwolf and succeeds where others fail because of his unique makeup.

    Possible twist: the hero brings back the head of the direwolf, as well as the rest of the direwolf, because he tames the beast rather than killing it. He literally fulfills the challenge, but in a way surprising to the rest of his people.

  177. Rogon 25 Oct 2011 at 7:56 pm

    thanks, that really got me out of a tight jam at tt point

  178. Rogon 26 Oct 2011 at 10:36 pm

    oh, I also had a idea of the chieftian befriend with a man who happens to be a general of an arising civilization, making one of the main conflicts of the story being the relationship between the civilization and the surrounding tribes as well as the two leader like figures, what do you think?

  179. CCOlsonon 27 Oct 2011 at 1:44 pm

    Maybe the chieftan-to-be could save the general (out hunting or something) during his test-quest? General would owe him a favor which might eventually lead to internal conflict if/when civilization came conquering.

  180. Rogon 27 Oct 2011 at 2:40 pm

    well the plan was to make them meet after he became chieftian

  181. CCOlsonon 27 Oct 2011 at 4:41 pm

    Your story, your plan, man. In my opinion, character conflict is the meat of the best stories, so your idea is sound.

  182. Torrieon 30 Oct 2011 at 12:21 am

    I don’t have much development on my character, especially concerning how she recieves her super power. Her power is pain domination. This power set allows her to control pain, who recieves it, and who benefits from it (like herself and her team mates). I need to figure out how she recieves this power. I would like the origin to be a form of magic, but don’t know where to begin. I was thinking she’d live in Japan, so maybe base it on some form of mythology. For example, a being or artifact capable of granting wishes. The thing is, I don’t think my character should be actively seeking a power, which is a problem with using wishes. It’s too easy and unlikely. I was thinking of playing off her motivation (she’s in the military, so nationalism, I guess), but unless it could work well, I’m pretty much shooting that option down. My character is also quite unmotivated, so I doubt she’d actively make effort to hunt down a solution.

    I don’t know whether the power should initially be a curse or a blessing. Or whether she should recieve the power as a child or a teen. I have no idea. I really don’t know where to start. I am open to any suggestions that would make sense and work well,

  183. B. Macon 30 Oct 2011 at 8:25 am

    “I was thinking she’d live in Japan, so maybe base it on some form of mythology.” Alternately, you could explain it scientifically. Maybe she’s a soldier in an incredibly painful experience (like a horrific accident or something) and she signs on a test subject in a cutting-edge project to control pain. Alternately, if you’re attached to the wishes idea, maybe she wishes for something like world peace and the impish demon granting the wish laughs in her face (i.e. “Uhh, I’m a PAIN demon. Here’s the ability to control pain. Good luck doing anything friendly with it”). Then the question is why the demon chose to grant her a wish and what, if anything, the demon expects in return. Perhaps the demon has a long-term agenda of his own?

    “My character is also quite unmotivated, so I doubt she’d actively make effort to hunt down a solution.” If she’s a slacker soldier, I would imagine she gets a lot of discipline from her superiors (like extra runs and the like). There could be some opportunities to work in pain there.

  184. Torrieon 31 Oct 2011 at 9:42 am

    B. Mac, thank you for the ideas and quick response! 🙂

    I was thinking of a plot more along the lines of her gaining her powers unexpectedly. Like, she throws a coin into a wishing well as a joke, makes her wish, and unexpectedly gains these powers. The only problem is, unless I can figure out if there’s a Japanese spirit that inhabits wishing wells or grants wishes, that idea’s out the window. (If it comes to the worst, I’ll change her nationality. As far as mythology, Japan has always interested me though.) Actually, I’m open to any idea like that. I just thought that since she’s lazy and unmotivated, that for powers to come to her instead of her trying to get powers, that would be more interesting. Haha, and then I don’t have to worry that much about more peoples’ motives. For now I can only handle her story. I don’t want to make this more complex by adding others in, unless the reason for say the demon’s motives were very simple…but they never really are 😛

    I like the idea of working pain domination into her laziness, but I honestly have no idea how. And in a way that is fairly natural. I don’t want it to happen out of the blue without strong ties.

  185. B. McKenzieon 31 Oct 2011 at 10:05 am

    “unless I can figure out if there’s a Japanese spirit that inhibits wishing wells or grants wishes, that idea’s out the window.” (If it comes to the worst, I’ll change her nationality. As far as mythology, Japan has always interested me though.) Well, first, I wouldn’t shy away from making up a myth if that’s what the story calls for.* Anyway, in terms of Japanese wishes, there’s an old Japanese legend that folding 1000 origami cranes so pleases the gods that they’ll grant you a wish. However, I’m not sure that would work for a character that’s lazy. Besides that, there’s the Tanabata festival. People write wishes on colored paper and hang the paper strips on bamboo branches.

    *Seriously, anything is believable… in Japan! (Americans and Japanese people will believe more or less anything you tell them about the other country).

  186. CCOlsonon 31 Oct 2011 at 12:33 pm

    Torrie, perhaps your heroine could receive the power as a mixed-blessing from a Kitsune ( http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kitsune ) met by chance. Earning the blessing/curse could be more a work of cleverness than persistence or effort.

    Or perhaps she could be possessed by some kind of evil spirit ( though that would certainly be all curse without any blessing attached ).

    I don’t know very much about Japanese mythology, but what I do know tells me that with a little research you should find plenty of material to work with. Their culture has plenty of interesting superstitions kicking around.

  187. Rogon 06 Nov 2011 at 2:36 pm

    oh, hey, I have a few few more question if its not a problem

    1) is there any way to make a stereotypical bully archtype sympathetic (due to the fact one of my main characters are this)

    2)would there be anyway of making a social-darwinist society three dimenstional, even with accusations like genocide and slavery on them.

  188. B. McKenzieon 06 Nov 2011 at 3:43 pm

    A while back, I looked at some ways to handle non-evil bullies here. I’m not sure if your definition of “stereotypical bully” is the same as mine, but I’m thinking a stereotypical bully would be very hard to make unsympathetic because his goals are not sympathetic and because his victims usually are not bad people.

    “Bullying” might be borderline-justifiable if it blurs into legitimate authority. For example, maybe a student in an authority position bosses around another student in the hopes of setting him straight. For example, ROTC (campus military) programs are hierarchical–students report to teachers but ALSO to higher-ranking, more senior students. Hogwarts had prefects. Maybe it’s not 100% clear whether the higher-ranking student is just trying to enforce the rules and/or is on a power trip. (Maybe it’s a bit of both).

    “Would there be anyway of making a social-Darwinist society three dimensional, even with accusations like genocide and slavery against them.” Uhh, genocide and slavery would be very hard to get around. That said, a lot of people bought into 300’s depiction of Sparta as heroic, even though Spartans threw sickly kids off of cliffs and maintained a fierce military to keep their slaves in check. (300 showed some abusively harsh aspects of Spartan child-rearing, but I think it either glossed over Spartan slavery or omitted it entirely).

    I don’t know if circumstances could ever justify genocide or slavery, but I think a lot of readers could forgive the society some roughness if the circumstances justify it. For example, Wild West law enforcement was very crude and rough, but there were a lot of armed criminals and the legal system was not very well-developed. If there’s a highly fatal epidemic (zombie or otherwise), it might make sense to try policies that would generally be unacceptable (like martial law, enforced curfews, quarantined neighborhoods, soldiers ordered to enforce quarantine even if it means shooting people too panicked to respond to orders to halt, etc).

    If society is facing something like mass starvation or some other eminent catastrophe, trying to save as many people as possible might mean picking which people are most “desirable” to save.* It’d be odious/unlikable for a society to starve out an ethnicity or religion that way, but it’d make sense if the society valued some job skills over others. For example, if the society is facing catastrophe, doctors, farmers and police/soldiers are probably the most important to short-term survival. Social Darwinism might result in people getting conscripted into more immediately desirable fields. For example, “Your skills as a journalist/artist/teacher/whatever are not useful anymore. Either learn how to farm or you’re not getting any rations.”

    *This concept is not entirely alien to the modern First World. For example, disaster medicine sometimes entails triage. It’s not that doctors hate the elderly, but in a disaster, you focus on where you can do the most good with the resources you have. That sort of calculation tends to play against the elderly.

  189. Rogon 06 Nov 2011 at 4:29 pm

    well the social darwinist one im not justifying(sort of needed a villain), I just didn’t want them to come off as unrealisticly evil and give some understanging to it.

  190. B. McKenzieon 06 Nov 2011 at 5:51 pm

    Oh, okay. Then I think slavery is workable. I’m not sure about genocide for a three-dimensional villain, though.

  191. Rogon 06 Nov 2011 at 6:03 pm

    good point…thanks again.

  192. Rogon 12 Nov 2011 at 7:56 pm

    oh, and I was planning that the reasoning forthe villian’s actions is because of the constant attacks made on them by a few nomadic groups in the area, and he believes that the only way to turn the place into a utopia is whipping out the nomadic threat surrounding his civilization.

  193. Anonymouson 24 Nov 2011 at 12:21 am

    I have a few characters, a team of five heroes, and I have figured out some vague details about each of them, but I haven’t developed them in depth yet.
    Creature: Creature stands 6 feet and 8 inches tall. He has slimy, green, reptilian skin, and large yellow eyes. He has a single stripe of white fur that runs from the top of his head all the way down to the bottom of his back. He has a long tail, which is adorned with small, spike-like ridges on the top of his tail. His tongue is long, and forked, like a snake’s. He has long, razor sharp teeth. He has long fingers with retractable claws at the ends. He also has claws on his feet, and his heels are adorned with additional, raptor-style claws. Creature’s real name is Adam Buchanan. He is a high school student with a penchant for daydreaming and drawing imaginary creatures. He is an outcast, and he has almost no friends. He is extremely jealous of Christopher (another character) because of his popularity. He has brown eyes and short black hair. Adam is the main POV character. He is smart, but very clumsy, which often results in him screwing things up. He is a paranoid schizophrenic, and he has several “imaginary” friends: Jiminy Billy Bob Thornton, a hillbilly, Bo, a talking grizzly bear, Maximilian, a deranged assassin, and Crash, a racecar driver. Creature is also bipolar, and he always blames one of his “imaginary” friends when a mood swing happens. Out of his “imaginary” friends, Jiminy Billy Bob Thornton and Maximilian represent his stupid and violent urges and acts, and Bo and Crash represent his more rational actions. He is usually very nice, and innocent.
    Sapien: Sapien stands 5 feet and 10 inches tall. His costume consists of shiny, silver armor, and a black cape. His helmet covers his entire face, but leaves his eyes exposed. He has telekinesis and the ability to turn invisible, but his telekinesis is limited to objects that he can see, and he can only turn invisible for 15 minutes at a time, and he has to recharge his powers. Sapien’s real name is Jamaal Saunders. He is a high school student, and is the president of his class. He is extremely smart. He wears glasses. He has spiky brown hair and blue eyes, and a small amount of freckles. He is more of a strategist than an actual fighter, but he often comes up with grand plans that require people far beyond the heroes’ capabilities, which often gets on the others nerves.
    Nova: Nova stands 6 feet tall. His costume consists of armor, which is stylized to look like football padding. It is dark gray. He has the ability to spontaneously generate energy and throw it as a weapon. His real name is Christopher Spengler, but everybody calls him by his nickname, “Kipper”. He has brown eyes, and dark brown, Troy Polamalu style hair. He is a star quarterback, and he is extremely popular around school. He is very cocky, and believes that he owns everything, which gets on the other’s nerves (with the exception of Regina). He tends to put himself before others, but not during dangerous situations.
    Solaris: Solaris stands 5 feet and 6 inches tall. Her costume is bright a bright blue bodysuit, and a darker blue cape. She has a utility belt which holds her various weapons. Her power of flight is directly affected by the sun: She will have no trouble flying on a cloudless day, but will be effectively “grounded” on a cloudy/rainy day. Solaris’ real name is Regina Stone. She is Christopher’s girlfriend, and is as popular as he is. She has long blonde hair, which she keeps pulled back into a bun, and green eyes. She is the ASB junior class president. She is not exactly the crispiest chip in the bag when it comes to academics though. She is extremely devoted to Christopher. But she is very materialistic, and can get mad over some very trivial things. Regina is a bit of a ditz.
    Mercury: Mercury stands 5 feet and 4 inches tall. Her costume is all white, and is made of an unknown material. She has the ability to harden and liquefy her body, making it harder for opponents to attack her. Mercury’s real name is Brenda Stag. She has short, black hair, green eyes, and a few freckles. She is very poor, and she despises anybody who is richer and/or more popular than she is. She especially hates Adam, because he has attempted to steal from her on several occasions. She is the rebellious type, and she prefers to spend most of her time by herself.
    Does that seem like a decent start? Is there anything I should add/change?

  194. B. McKenzieon 24 Nov 2011 at 9:37 am

    Some thoughts:

    When you’re ready to submit (either to a publisher or a literary agency), I would recommend cutting out nearly all of the minor demographic details.

    It seems like the characters are mostly based on common high school archetypes (e.g. the outcast, the class president, the jock (especially a star quarterback, although I like the “Kipper” nickname), a ditz/class president, and Brenda might also be an outcast. It might help to try unusual combinations of traits. For example, I like the idea of the junior class president being a bit of a ditz. I’d also recommend distinguishing characters more. If there’s too much overlap between characters (e.g. Creature the outcast and Brenda the poor outcast), it might help to change one or both and/or merge the characters into a single new character. For an example of unexpected combinations of character traits, I’d recommend checking out Play Dead, a novel about an outcast quarterback and a student journalist that takes her job a bit too seriously and, secondarily, a football game between zombies and roid-raging preppies.

    If you’re interested in doing a conflict between Jamaal and Regina, one possibility is that instead of one being the school class president and the other being the junior class president, have them be co-presidents of the same year. It’s a stupid system used by some schools to give more students a chance to burnish their resumes but I could only imagine it would lead to friction, particularly if the two of them have a very different approach to the office. (For example, maybe Jamaal is much smarter than Regina and/or Regina thinks it actually matters whereas Jamaal treats it as just a resume item).

    What are these characters attempting to accomplish outside of high school? How did they get their superpowers?

  195. Anonymouson 24 Nov 2011 at 10:52 am

    I told you about the basic storyline and how they got their powers on another article, How to write titles.
    It was the one about the aliens and the heroes destroying earth.
    Creature begins the story as a human, but after he receives his powers he is unable to return to his human form.
    I like the idea of Jamaal and Regina being co-class presidents, but I think that Jamaal would be the one who thinks it actually matters, and Regina would only be worried about making herself look good.
    As for having too much overlap, what should/could I add or change about Creature/Adam and Mercury/Brenda to distinguish them??

  196. B. McKenzieon 24 Nov 2011 at 6:27 pm

    “I told you about the basic storyline and how they got their powers on another article…” Oh, okay. A lot of people post as “Anonymous,” so it’s hard for me to tell which posts belong to which anonymous author.

    “What could I add or change about Creature/Adam and Mercury/Brenda to distinguish them?” Well, right now, they both feel like their personalities could be 50%+ summed up by “outcast.” I think it would help to add aspects that help develop them in different directions (or, alternately, cut the outcast aspect for one altogether). If they are both outcasts, for example, maybe the experience is wildly different for the two of them. For example, Brenda probably hates being an outcast–she despises people that are more popular than her, which suggests to me that she badly wants the popularity she doesn’t have and is bitter/angry about not having it. Right now, Adam is also jealous of popular people (Christopher, at least).

    One way to distinguish the two would be having Adam not care that much about being apart from other people. (If he knows he has mental problems, he might even think it’s best if he sees as few people as possible until he sorts those out–he’s a nice guy, so he might be compassionate enough to care about the wellbeing of others). Right now, it looks like most of your characters’ lives are centered around either being popular or angrily wishing that they were popular. It might be more three-dimensional if at least a few of the characters didn’t care that much about it one way or the other.

  197. Anonymouson 24 Nov 2011 at 9:44 pm

    Okay. I don’t think that Adam should be aware of his mental problems, but he realizes that others don’t like him, and he is nice enough to accept his role as an outcast. Does that sound better?

    Alternatively, Brenda would be the one who hates people who are more popular and richer.

    Concerning Christopher, how could I make him less of a stereotypical jock?

  198. B. Macon 24 Nov 2011 at 10:48 pm

    “Concerning Christopher, how could I make him less of a stereotypical jock?” Hmm, not sure how I can help you here. Maybe come up with a list of 10+ traits you’d stereotypically associate with jocks. (Here are some to get you started: athletic, popular, well off*, socially smooth, romantically successful, badly disrespectful of non-jocks, unintelligent, sort of sleazy, macho, hedonistic/party animals/skirt-chasers). Then give him some traits (including at least one that really affects his role in the story and/or his personality) that aren’t on that list.

    Alternately, give him an unexpected combination of archetypes.
    –In the previous example (Play Dead), the main character was a jock/outcast.
    –Tim Duncan is a huge fan of Dungeons and Dragons.
    –According to TV Tropes, “Anaheim Ducks enforcer George Parros played college hockey at Princeton where he majored in economics and wrote his senior thesis on the West Coast longshoremen’s labor dispute.”
    –Curt Schilling is such a fan of EverQuest that they added him–err, “Clint Gilcrush“–to the game.
    –Pat Tillman left the Arizona Cardinals for the Army Rangers (which probably rules out the party animal angle, unless the nightlife in Afghanistan is a lot more interesting than I’ve been led to believe).
    –A lot of astronauts were athletes and pretty much every astronaut is highly capable at math and science.
    –Uhh, Fidel Castro was a star pitcher in college and Gerald Ford played football for a then-elite program (Michigan).
    –Lance Briggs is one of the highlights of Chicago Comic-Con and, of course, is destined to win 100 Super Bowl rings because he is a Chicago Bear and studies have shown that dah Bears cannot actually lose.*
    *According to a survey of 1 Chicagoan marketing director. Your results may vary depending on your level of sobriety.
    Keith Fitzhugh turned down an offer from the New York Jets because he thought that his job as a train conductor gave him a more stable source of income to support his ailing parents.
    –Buffalo Bills QB Ryan Fitzpatrick and six-time Pro Bowler Matt Birk (the center for the Ravens) graduated from Harvard. Fitzpatrick got a 1580 out of 1600 on the SAT and Birk got a 34 out of 36 on the ACT.
    –Craig Breslow (a RP for the Oakland A’s) graduated from Yale with a degree in molecular biophysics and biochemistry.
    –Sean Bedford, a center for Georgia Tech, graduated with a 3.8 GPA in aerospace engineering. If being a football player doesn’t work out, he has training as a rocket scientist.

    So, yeah, I think you have a lot of room to give an athlete traits/interests/aspirations that aren’t stereotypically jockish.

    *Most jocks are portrayed as fairly wealthy, which I don’t understand. If anything, I’d guess that the students most committed to athletics in high school tend to be relatively poor (e.g. students that need an athletic scholarship to pay for college).

  199. Anonymouson 24 Nov 2011 at 11:05 pm

    So maybe he wouldn’t be very popular then. He could have trust issues?
    Maybe his parents beat him as a child, and it takes alot to be his friend, let alone his girlfriend, which would explain why Regina cares about him so much. I’m not sure if that makes sense, but what do you think?

  200. B. McKenzieon 24 Nov 2011 at 11:41 pm

    I like trust issues, but you’re writing a ridiculous comedy, right? Getting beaten by his parents might dampen the mood a bit. Can you think of any light-hearted (and preferably comedic) reasons he might have trust issues? For example, The Santa Clause had a psychiatrist who was traumatized at the age of 3 because he discovered that his parents were lying to him about Santa Claus. Is there anything else the character’s parents might have lied to him about?

  201. Anonymouson 24 Nov 2011 at 11:52 pm

    Hmmm……..well the most random thing that I could think of was as a child the four people that he trusted the most left him to form a barbershop quartet. Not sure if that’s funny though.

  202. Anonymouson 24 Nov 2011 at 11:56 pm

    As for the lying parents, maybe he was adopted into a black family and didn’t realize that he wasn’t black until somebody at his elementary school aske why he, a white kid, called a black kid his brother. And when he confronts his parents, they come clean, and he feels betrayed because they didn’t tell him.

  203. Anonymouson 24 Nov 2011 at 11:57 pm

    I meant asked.

  204. Anonymouson 25 Nov 2011 at 12:12 am

    He could maybe have an uncanny interest in politics.

  205. IAmNotLefthandedon 26 Dec 2011 at 7:25 pm

    I’m writing a first draft of a mostly humorous superhero novel, and was just wondering what you thought of the characters. The story is based around a group of mutants in a top secret government facility who are called on to stop ridiculously weak supervillains. The main story kicks off when an intelligent villain takes control of the facility and uses the mutants to take out his competition, enemies and various superheroes. The main characters are:
    Rampage: Quite a well meaning girl with anger issues, Rampage rather hates her villainous sounding nickname and wishes that people would just call her Katrina. She is new to the team and finds it difficult to control her powers, which are pyrokinitic. She is viewed by the public as a dangerous person and is greeted wherever she goes with screams. She is the most moral of the group, and finds it very difficult when she has to abandon one person to save many. She would do anything to get rid of her powers, as they were what lead to her being treated as a freak by her friends, family, boyfriend and pretty much everyone.
    Massacre: An ex-supervillain currently working with the team as an alternative to prison for creating the first ever working freeze ray and setting it on the White House (123 injuries, 1 fatality- while freexing worked okay, thawing proved more difficult). He is the most morally lax of the group, with is really saying something, and has been mutated into a cyborg after an unfortunaate uncident with a blender and a malfunctioning super ray. He is the first to jump into any given fight, and has a fascination with weaponry. He is the most selfish of the group, and takes a back seat to most fights for fear of injury.
    Dr. Gadget: A self proclaimed mad scientist who was melded with a roach after an unfortunate experiment. Prone to evil laughter and creating genius gadgets out of nothing, although these are prone to malfunctioning. Although he calls himself a mad scientist, he is actually a pretty nice guy who does try his best to reel in his teammates, acting as the lone authority figure. Unlike most super scientists, he actually kept notes on all experiments, and his notes contain information on how to turn all of them back to normal.
    Fred: You get the distinct feeling that they didn’t know how to name this guy. Originally a plant given the mind of an extremely stupid person, he evolved swiftly to become some kind of a shape shifting blob that can’t keep one shape for more than two minutes and is convinced that he is a human. Optimistic, cheerful and hopelessly naive, he is the most harmless of the ragtag group, and also the most useless, as even once he is shifted into a form someone could punch right through his body with ease.

  206. IAmNotLefthandedon 26 Dec 2011 at 7:28 pm

    What do you think? Do you have any alternatives for names? I am especially unhaply with Fred and Dr. Gadget.

  207. B. McKenzieon 27 Dec 2011 at 1:22 am

    –If they’re a government team, why are they getting names like Rampage and Massacre? (By the way, I really like “Fred” for the plant/blob that thinks he’s a human–given the context, it feels very fresh).

    –“Unlike most super scientists, he actually kept notes on all experiments, and his notes contain information on how to turn all of them back to normal.” Rampage wants her powers to go away. Is he holding out on her?

    –“is convinced that he is a human. Optimistic, cheerful and hopelessly naive, he is the most harmless of the ragtag group, and also the most useless, as even once he is shifted into a form someone could punch right through his body with ease.” Depending on the execution, his delusions might be charming and hilarious. However, I would recommend not making his powers too useless or it may result in him feeling like a distraction. (Alternately, if his powers are just horribly weak, maybe he has some other assets and/or skills that are really useful).

    –Since Dr. Gadget’s gadgets have a notable tendency to malfunction, you could give him a name based on that. For example, maybe something like Glitch, Crash, Snafu, Trainwreck, Snag, maybe a pun based on “bug” (groan), Botch, The Notorious M.O.D. (Master of Disaster), etc.

  208. IAmNotLefthandedon 27 Dec 2011 at 2:51 am

    – “If they’re a government team why are they getting names like Rampage and Massacre?”
    Massacre had already chosen his name becaus he thought it sounding cool and evil. Rampage was so-named because after she gained her abilities she lost control of them and destroyed most of the town. The government are pretty scared of the mutants and what they can do, so they try to lower their self esteem in small ways, such as names.
    – ” Rampage wants her powers
    to go away. Is he holding out on her?”
    Absolutely. The doctor enjoys being part of a team and being seen as a hero rather than a villain, and doesn’t want the team split up. Not to mention, they are held captive in the facility for the most part, as they are seen as dangers to society, so even if he wanted to help he couldn’t since the notes regarding mutation are still back at his lab.
    -” However, I would
    recommend not making his powers
    too useless or it may result in him
    feeling like a distraction. (Alternately, if
    his powers are just horribly weak,
    maybe he has some other assets and/
    or skills that are really useful).”
    He is excellent at imitating voices and at coming up with disguises. He is used as an excellent distraction and is good at negotiating. His skills just aren’t physical or related to his mutation.
    – “Since Dr. Gadget’s gadgets have a
    notable tendency to malfunction, you
    could give him a name based on that.
    For example, maybe something like
    Glitch, Crash, Snafu, Trainwreck, Snag,
    maybe a pun based on “bug” (groan),
    Botch, The Notorious M.O. D. (Master
    of Disaster), etc.”
    I quite like Botch and the Notorious M.O.D. I’ll try them out and see if either suits. Thank you!

  209. Questionmarkon 29 Dec 2011 at 5:16 pm

    What would you say to me using a superhero that is enormously reluctant to perform any heroics? That is, after she gains her abilities and is approached by a crime fighting group, she turns them down out of fear and cowardice- would this make her appear selfish and unlikeable?

  210. B. McKenzieon 30 Dec 2011 at 2:49 am

    “That is, after she gains her abilities and is approached by a crime fighting group, she turns them down out of fear and cowardice- would this make her appear selfish and unlikable?” If you’ve previously made her a likable and active character, I don’t think this would make her seem selfish/useless. For example, if she’s a somewhat relatable person that’s not very violent or brave, I think we’d sympathize with her decision (particularly the character is notably selfless in other ways–Invincible’s Atom Eve is a pretty extreme example that opts to do a long-term Third World service project instead).

    I see two main possibilities for this character:
    1) She eventually changes her mind. Maybe something convinces her that it’s worthwhile and that she has something to offer.

    2) She gets dragged along kicking and screaming. CAUTION: If she’s forced to do something she doesn’t want to do, I would highly recommend doing a lot of conflict between her and her bosses. For example, if she doesn’t want to be a superhero, what is she actually DOING to get out of the business? If she’s been drafted, here are some possible ways she might be thinking about getting out.
    –She actively tries to get herself fired.
    –She tries to run away.
    –She searches for blackmail material on somebody that can let her go.
    –She tries to convince them that she’s a conscientious objector.
    –She tries to convince them that she’s crazy and/or totally unfit for the job. For example, in Harold and Maude, Harold convinces the military not to take him by pretending to be psychotically gung ho.
    –She tries getting a major company, organization or university to convince the superhero organization that she would be a more productive member of society as an employee or a student than a superhero.

    Feel free to mix and match–I’d love to see somebody try to blackmail Nick Fury while she’s also trying to convince the Girl Scouts to go to bat for her charity efforts and playing psycho at work. (Then Nick Fury can sabotage the Girl Scout lobbying effort by showing a tape of how crazy she allegedly is).

    If the character’s reluctance only registers as passivity and/or complaining about doing interesting superhero stuff, I think that would definitely make her less likable.

    Of the two, I think #2 would be more challenging but probably more memorable (as long as the character got ways to show her lack of enthusiasm besides whining or silently sulking).

  211. Questionmarkon 30 Dec 2011 at 5:13 am

    Thank you for all that advice! I think I’ll go with number 2, that is she gets forced into joining the team. My second question is, how would I be able to show the team so desperate to get her on their team that they force her, without the girl appearing Mary Sue-ish?

  212. B. McKenzieon 30 Dec 2011 at 5:26 am

    Well, in a military drafting situation, at least, the military isn’t desperate to have any particular recruit. The main reason to come down really hard on people that resist a draft is not because those few AWOLers would be useful soldiers (they’d probably contribute to morale problems wherever they were assigned), but because letting them go would encourage other drafted soldiers to do the same.

    Your organization might not have a desperate need for this individual superhero* but NOT drafting her might contribute to morale issues among other drafted superheroes. She might not be individually critical, but drafted heroes as a whole might be. If people that are born with incredible superpowers feel that they are being treated badly compared to people with pathetic superpowers (i.e. “You’re only drafting me because I’m useful–what about that guy?”), that could create a lot of problems. If your organization has to piss somebody off, it’d make more sense to piss off people without incredible superpowers.

    One way to make sure that the organization doesn’t come off as too desperate for her individually would be giving her powers that are just sort of okay–powerful enough that she can plausibly make a difference on a superhero team but ideally not close to the top.

    *Particularly if her powers are not great and/or she isn’t that ready to be a fighter and/or she’s particularly unenthusiastic and/or many other potential reasons.

  213. Questionmarkon 30 Dec 2011 at 5:30 am

    Thank you again! That helped a lot- now I’d better get back to writing!

  214. B. McKenzieon 30 Dec 2011 at 5:31 am

    Good luck!

  215. Peteron 16 Jan 2012 at 4:47 am

    How is this for a character description of the moon god Khonsu based slightly on the Egyptian god.

    1. Crazy
    2. Aggressive
    3. Serious
    Because of the fact that the moon is sometimes full and sometimes half Khonsu in “New Gods” represents that. Usually as the half moon, the moon god isn’t all quite there allowing him to be slightly mad and insane whereas during the full moon he can regain his sanity. The dark side of the moon represents the fact that Khonsu has unknown feelings that he will not reveal to anyone e.g. his teammates (because he has no friends) see him as crazy and serious but honourable (this representing the bright side) whereas alone with his intended target he can be brutal, bloodthirsty and violent.

    What do you think?

  216. Shaunnaon 25 Jan 2012 at 7:39 am

    Hey, Um… I’m trying to make a character and i have no idea what to do for them though and i need help. (This is my first time doing anything like this) I want to make my own character to have Adventures in Doctor who (My fav tv programme) I have no idea where to begin though…

  217. L05T 80Yon 25 Jan 2012 at 1:16 pm

    try a half human, half dalek who has trouble fitting in to earth society
    or better yet, a full dalek that has changed its view on life

  218. Zyrionon 13 Feb 2012 at 5:53 pm

    I’m just having some problems with developing my character, the as-of-yet unnamed girl with a brain tumour. Her parents believe her to be dead after the botched operation, and with heavy anti-hero feelings around she can’t tell them that she is alive. Obviously, there would be some angst about this, but how would I convey that without it becoming Wangst? I don’t want her to come off as a whiny damsel in distress- any suggestions?

  219. B. McKenzieon 13 Feb 2012 at 8:44 pm

    “Her parents believe her to be dead after the botched operation, and with heavy anti-hero feelings around she can’t tell them that she is alive.” It’s hard to tell without reading the story, but my initial impression is that if she’s essentially running away from home and letting her parents think she’s dead, mere anti-hero feelings may not be sufficient to explain her actions.

    If I could approach this a bit facetiously…

    DAUGHTER: Mom, Dad, I’m not actually dead!

    PARENTS: Thank God! We missed you so much!

    DAUGHTER: And, through no fault of my own, I developed superpowers in the process.


    One possibility that may explain her reluctance to come home would be if she has huge legal complications now. For example, if something happened during the hospital attack (like her powers accidentally blowing up something worth a few million dollars, like an expensive piece of equipment), then she might feel so overwhelmed and scared that she’s afraid to go home. Maybe she thinks that her parents might be so scared of her powers that they’d send her away.

    Alternately, she may feel she’s doing her parents a favor if the situation is SO hot for superhumans that she doesn’t want her family mixed up with any of that.

    It feels to me like an unusual decision that she doesn’t even tell her family that she survived. I really like unusual decisions, but I’d put some thought into how she comes by this decision, because letting her parents think she died could come across as cold as ice. At the very least, I’d recommend making it a hard decision for her. Maybe she’s sorry that she has to drag out their trauma, BUT if they know she’s alive, they will surely do something that endangers them (like asking the police for help finding her or telling all of their family members that she’s alive). When she finally does tell them what happened, I could imagine that her mother and/or father might be a bit hurt that she didn’t trust them not to blab. I think there could be some genuine, non-wangsty drama there.

    “I don’t want her to come off as a whiny damsel in distress.” You haven’t mentioned anything about complaining so far. She’s taken a problem (her power situation might endanger her and/or her family), and she seems to have a plan of action to solve it (she’s letting everybody think she’s dead so that her family is safe). The heart of wangst is whining and, as long as there’s little whining, I think you’re fine here.

    ONE UNWANGSTY POSSIBILITY: “This isn’t how I was expecting to spend my school year–it’s messy, a bit scary and I miss everybody. That said, I’m excited about X and I never would have gotten the chance to do Y otherwise.”

  220. Zyrionon 15 Feb 2012 at 12:26 am

    Much obliged! Well, as for the anti-superhuman hate going around, her father is one of the extremists who believe that the superheroes are freaks. Everyone is scared, even of the heroes, because they think “What if they turn on us? What if they become villains? What do we do then?”
    So I’ve decided that the girl (Taylor) won’t return home for the following reasons. Are any of these unreasonable?
    1) Fear of rejection by her parents who would not accept that she is really their daughter, back from the dead.
    2) She doesn’t want to go back to being Taylor-the-cancer-patient; she wants to be seen as a person, not a patient, if that makes sense. She’s had the tumour for so long that she isn’t sure of who she is without it yet.
    3) She isn’t sure if can fully control her powers yet and is scared of hurting people.
    4) She doesn’t want to drag her parents into the middle of all the superhuman stuff, especially when they’ve just got their lives back on track. Related to this is that while she had the tumour her parents were constantly fighting and were considering seperating, but now that she is ‘dead’ they’ve sorted through their problems and are happily married again.
    5) She wants a bit of adventure and a chance to live life without her psrents interfering before she returns home to more chemotherapy and radiation and appointments for the cancer.
    What do you think? Are these reasonable?

  221. Rick Crawfordon 20 Jun 2012 at 11:49 am

    I like your technique much better than the questionnaire method. You always have to think ahead and develop complex characters that make readers want to read on.

  222. Rosidaon 08 Jul 2012 at 1:20 pm

    This site is incredible! Thank you so much for helping. 🙂

  223. Roxanne H.on 04 Aug 2012 at 11:21 am

    If someone (me) has antisocial personality disorder and has a hard time creating likeable characters that feel guilty for wrongdoings, would there be any way to get around this? ASPD is basically the abscence of conscience and guilt.

  224. ManWith@Planon 06 Aug 2012 at 4:27 pm

    @ Roxanne H.
    This looks more like a psychology question, but my only answer is to read and read and read popular books and best sellers until you understand what your readers want your characters to feel guilty about. It might be hard, though, but persevere

  225. B. McKenzieon 06 Aug 2012 at 6:28 pm

    I think MWAP’s advice here is solid. In particular, I’d recommend checking out how most classics and/or bestsellers handle how the characters treat other characters. Your protagonists (and especially your antagonists) don’t need to be 100% altruistic and/or compassionate, but I think it would definitely raise likability issues for the protagonists if they all had sociopathic tendencies.

    In particular, I think readers are generally fond of protagonists with at least some empathy. An empathetic hero may not be able to avoid screwing mostly-likable characters (especially if the circumstances make it virtually impossible to avoid screwing over somebody), but the empathy would probably make the decision a more dramatic one (and the character more likable)–e.g. the character’s guilt and/or regret might shape the character moving forward. Regardless of the character’s empathy level, you can also use external consequences/obstacles (e.g. other characters holding him/her accountable for remorselessly screwing over a mostly-likable character).

  226. Emily M.on 31 Aug 2012 at 3:05 pm

    Out of my 6 main characters, the one I’ve been having trouble developing is the main protagonist, Spark. His powers are electricity/light manipulation.

    He’s the eighteen year-old sidekick of two vigilantes, Crackerjack and Goody-Goody, and he’s thoroughly bored with his job. He never gets to do anything, and he’s lucky if they even let him tag along. Sidekicks are generally looked down on, and Spark is tired of being overshadowed. But he lets the heroes treat him like dirt, because it’s the first job he’s had where he didn’t get fired in the first week.

    As far as personality goes, he’s goofy, compassionate, but insensitive. He’s also REALLY smarmy.

    I’m trying to avoid the trap of making him a generically nice protagonist, but I’m also trying to figure out how to give him a unique perspective on the life of a superhero.

    I am in a puzzle.

  227. Dr. Vo Spaderon 14 Oct 2012 at 7:06 am

    …A collegue of mine suggested that one of us write a book with drastic differences between the chapters. By this, it is meant that each chapter would be structurered like issues of a comic book, or episodes of a show. This way there would be a new problem and, occassionally, a new antagonist every chapter. (These would be long chapters, of course.) I feel that this would do more to develop the characters, and would be helpful since I so often think up new ones. But my fear is that it could come off as somewhat…monotonous. Any thoughts?

  228. B. McKenzieon 14 Oct 2012 at 11:24 am

    DVS, could you explain more fully what the difference would be? I don’t think that it would be problematic to organize chapters around problems. However, if this format would lead to inserting more one-off antagonists (e.g. Monsters of the Week), that could lead to coherence problems (unless they do something to help advance the central plot or take up so little space that they present no danger to the story as a whole).

    Depending on the execution, plot complexity might also be an issue*. The plot might be too rigidly structured along the lines of Protagonists face problem A, protagonists solve problem A, protagonists face problem B, protagonists solve problem B… I’d recommend checking out how works incorporate multiple simultaneous problems and leave threads open to propel the story forward even as characters solve problems–in particular, Harry Potter and Silence of the Lambs strike me as standouts there.

    *Then again, depending on plot execution, a relatively rigid plot like this could be highly effective. I think the plot of Iron Man comes to mind: e.g. Tony Stark is captured in Afghanistan, Tony Stark escapes from Afghanistan, Tony Stark has grown guilty about his arms falling into the wrong hands, Tony decides to leave the arms business, etc.

  229. Dr. Vo Spaderon 14 Oct 2012 at 9:01 pm

    …The biggest difference would be (as you stated) event after event, as opposed to one long story. We fiddled with this idea for a while and came to much the same concluslusion as yours.
    …I still like this as a method to use my oversized casts, though. In an effort to use them to advance a central plot, I thought of promoting one of my characters to a behind the scenes mastermind. The idea was to have each chapter end with something that was related to my afore-mentioned character, but I ended up running out of connection ideas.
    …Meh. Maybe I’ll just have to settle for a regular sized roster.

  230. Nayanon 19 Oct 2012 at 1:00 am

    @B. Mac.

    I have finished the first draft of my novel. Now I have to revise it and delete unnecessary dialogues and scenes. In the novel, there are few scenes which do not involve the main character or the villain. These involve some side characters who will become important the sequel. I have used these scenes to develop these characters. Are these scenes unnecessary and should I delete these? These are not chapters. Just small parts of some chapters.

  231. Nayanon 19 Oct 2012 at 8:38 pm

    @B. Mac.

    You did not reply to my post. Help me. I think you are the best perso to to give some advices.

  232. B. McKenzieon 20 Oct 2012 at 9:36 am

    If they don’t develop the central plot of the first book and/or the main characters of the first book, I would lean towards removing them or rewriting them so that they do.

  233. Dr. Professoron 11 Dec 2012 at 7:29 pm

    To me, developing characters is quite a treat. It’s creating, you could say. You’ve got to start out with something, say a LEGO brick.

    Now, you add more LEGOs ( the LEGOs meaning people/various personalities ), and begin to build the person you’re developing.

    However, some of the bricks- personality- may look out of place, so you’d either move them or just get rid of them completely. I prefer starting my character base with an actual person that I find interesting. Remember that you actually can base characters off of somebody- not so much so that it makes your writing look like a Mary Sue fanfic.

    There’s also problems with basing your characters off of somebody. There’s the issue with friends. Your friends might as well say, ” Ooh! Put me in your book! ”

    That’s a little acceptable. But when they start saying, ” Okay, so I want red hair, I want this color shirt that my grandfather got me and I want to have flaming wings. Oh! And I also want the ability to talk to squirrels. OMG I looooooove squirrels, like they’re the tots cutest things EVES! ”

    Don’t even think about it, buddy.

    This is YOUR story, not theirs.

    If you’re going to base a character off of a person, then do it just by how interesting in general they are, along with how they differ from others.

    That’s my philosophy on developing and basing characters.

  234. Anonymouson 19 Jan 2013 at 12:42 pm

    The greatest characters that i have read in literature is from A Song of Ice and Fire.

  235. B. McKenzieon 19 Jan 2013 at 3:46 pm

    What impressed you most about the character development from A Song of Ice and Fire, Anonymous?

  236. Anonymouson 17 Mar 2013 at 3:49 pm

    Okay, odd question. I am writing a novel that can basically be summarized like this:
    We’ve seen so many stories about a Peter Parker, a nerd and hero dealing with bullies at school. But what if we focused on Flash Thompson- well, not the Flash Thompson, but you get the idea- what if the bully was the one caught in the lab accident? What would he do if gifted with incredible superpowers? So my question is this:
    I want to make the MC question his sexuality, and pick on openly gay students in order to cover up his insecurities. Is there any way to do this without compromising his likability too much?

  237. Anonymouson 18 Mar 2013 at 11:43 am

    Alright. Which target do you suggest?

  238. B. McKenzieon 19 Mar 2013 at 7:22 am

    I think pretty much any other high school demographic would work. E.g. geeks*, dorks*, bad students and/or dumb people, people who don’t speak English very well (e.g. immigrants), artists/hipsters/poets, emos, rich kids, vegans, drug users and/or dealers, jocks, jocks in pretentious and/or unpopular sports (soccer, lacrosse, swimming**, etc), significantly smarter students*, someone from the other side of town, any fictional divisions within your story’s universe (e.g. humans vs. mutants and mutant-sympathetic humans, Gryffindor vs. Slytherin vs. those other guys, football vs. tyranny, etc).

    *Granted, these are more cliche.

    To keep the character from being unduly unlikable, I’d recommend staying away from anything based on handicaps, race, religion, or sexuality.

  239. Dr. Vo Spaderon 19 Mar 2013 at 9:12 am

    Smoke ’em up, Johnny!

  240. Nayanon 19 Mar 2013 at 10:14 pm

    Is soccer unpopular in US? Generally it’s by far the most popular sport in the world followed by cricket.

  241. B. McKenzieon 20 Mar 2013 at 12:25 am

    “Is soccer unpopular in US?” In the U.S., U.S. football is about 25-35 times as popular as soccer. For example, in 2012, 6 million Americans watched a Major League Soccer game, whereas the National Football League drew 172 million. If MLS were a TV show, it probably would have been cancelled by now.

  242. XTREM SLAYERSon 12 Apr 2013 at 2:36 am

    My main character receives is superpowers when he dies … It’s hard to explain but when he dies ( on Earth like any human ) just his body dies but his mind and his soul stay “alive” and he’s teleported to another world

    and My fantastic story begins…

    It’s unique and I like the idea but I need opinion from other people so feel free and thanks you!

  243. B. McKenzieon 12 Apr 2013 at 7:29 am

    I think editors are a lot less focused on the character’s superpowers (and how he gets the superpowers) than on, say, his personality, unusual decisions, interesting interactions with other characters, motivation/goals, etc.

    Additionally, I personally find superheroes more interesting when one of their unusual decisions plays a major role in them developing superpowers (e.g. unlike most protagonists in his genre would have done, Peter Parker doesn’t stop the robber, which has a major impact on Peter and his family moving forward).

  244. Alexon 20 Jul 2013 at 11:46 am

    I am designing the two main characters in the novel I am planning, and have been finding this page especially helpful. I have one question: should I use a characters religious faith (or lack of it) as a core characteristic? Some people have told me that I shouldn’t, as they think it might alienate some readers, but I am not planning on making the character into an advertisement for that religion, or show that characteristic as always a good thing. I also think that it is quite realistic, as religion does inform a lot of the choices we make in life, especially when it comes to moral decisions. What does anyone else think?

  245. B. McKenzieon 20 Jul 2013 at 11:35 pm

    From a creative perspective, I think religion is definitely workable.

    From a MARKETING perspective, religion could raise major challenges if it is a major element of the story. If religion is so major that it’d be hard to avoid mentioning it in a 5-10 sentence summary of the story, I’d assume that life will be significantly harder for your marketers and it might turn off 50-75% of your prospects*. That said, you could still have religion inform character choices — e.g. Peter Parker’s Catholic faith significantly influences his decisions (e.g. his guilt over Ben’s death -> Peter becomes Spider-Man), but religion is not so major that it’d come up in a 5-10 sentence summary.

    When evaluating manuscripts, publishers definitely take marketing into consideration. Some cynics argue it is the main consideration.

    *Most people read fiction to be entertained, and most people do not associate religion with entertainment.

  246. Alexon 21 Jul 2013 at 1:59 am

    Thank you for the advice. Religion is not a hugely important thing in itself in the novel in that I could write the character the same way without his faith, but it would make his actions more understandable, particularly his flaws, if I kept it in. His religious beliefs will not be a main theme in the novel, but it will be there in the background (as I mentioned, his faith will not be seen as a good thing by many other characters, and is not intended to be a purely redeeming quality. His religion certainly will not be proven true in-universe, and will never be used to provide a deus ex machina). I will certainly tone it down more if you think it will have an impact of marketability, as I am aware that fantasy writing is a competitive field and I do not want to hurt my chances of getting published.

  247. B. McKenzieon 21 Jul 2013 at 10:29 am

    “I will certainly tone it down more if you think it will have an impact on marketability…” Based on how you’ve described it, I think you’re fine on marketing.

  248. Thalamuson 21 Jul 2013 at 12:02 pm

    Thanks for the advice! (I decided to change my screen name from Alex, because there is someone else already here using their own name as that, so I don’t want it to get confusing, as I am planning on frequenting this site for a while as I plan, then write, the novel)

  249. Blackscaron 29 Jul 2013 at 3:22 pm

    Ah, I’m conflicted…in a post on the ‘List of Superpowers’ article, I mentioned about seven characters, and I’d like a critique on them. However, each of the descriptions I have are at least three paragraphs long. Should I post them all at once, or split them up?


  250. Thalamuson 01 Aug 2013 at 2:37 pm

    I would say split them up. Or, if you are following the advice here, shorten it to simple characteristics.

  251. Blackscaron 01 Aug 2013 at 5:13 pm


    Hmm…okay; I’ll consider shortening the paragraphs into simple characteristics. 🙂

  252. Blackscaron 10 Sep 2013 at 3:38 pm

    Wow, it’s certainly been a while! 🙂 I’m not sure if this is quite the right section to post this, so I apologize if it isn’t!

    Currently, I’m about four chapters into my manuscript. I’ve plotted out when I’ll introduce the other three main characters, planned major plot points, etc.

    In my novel, slayers-in-training attending Rosewood Academy are split into teams of four, called Units, to allow better versatility in fighting styles, provide backup in case one team member is wounded, and to provide diversity in weaponry – for example, if a sword wouldn’t work, a ranged weapon might be more effective in a particular scenario.

    So far, I have everything set up so the story will follow the actions of the Red Unit, which consists of my four main characters: Alice, Erik, John, and Charlotte.
    However, they’re obviously not the only characters in the story, so I set up two other teams: the Silver Unit, consisting of Ana, who happens to be the school’s most proficient medic; Thaddeus, who is the main sparring instructor, and Daniel, the school’s main weaponsmith. (Their fourth member passed away in a tragic accident, and nobody else worked well enough, so they operate in a team of three.)
    They are recurring characters, but minor; they impact the story, but they don’t mold it, if that makes sense.

    However, I have another team, who will most likely be rivals to the Red Unit. I’ve decided to name them the Teal unit. The members would be:

    Ryota Takahashi, a calm, collected boy whose agility and precision is rivaled by no other. Ryota also has a penchant for making ridiculous puns in his usual deadpan fashion; he does this particularly during boring mission briefings so he can try to keep his teammates entertained. Despite his seemingly distant demeanor, he does care for all of them. He’ll most likely wield a katana and wakizashi, which he named Cherry and Blossom respectively, unless some other sort of weapon strikes my fancy. (Yes, I’m aware of how cliched the weapons’ names are; I’m not sure if that will effect my manuscript negatively.)

    Jake Matthews, a fiery, hotheaded loudmouth whose favorite sentence seems to be, “Fight me!”. He rarely thinks for others, and he prefers fighting with his fists than fighting with his words. Despite this, however, he has a desire to be the best in the academy both physically and academically, so it isn’t uncommon to see him with his nose buried in a book. He fights with a trident which he named Shard Shredder, though he wishes he could sync with something that allowed him to use his fists for once.

    Mark Smithe, a seemingly kind, generous, and cowardly boy with a wicked selfish streak. He’ll befriend and kiss up to nearly anyone to get what he wants, then he’ll cruelly dump the object of his affections. However, Mark cares deeply for Amber Westburg, another member of the Teal Unit, so he’s usually on his best behavior when she is in the area. He fights with a claymore that he dubbed ‘Excalibur’; he purposefully chose a name with supposedly heroic connotations to lower others’ guards.

    Amber Westburg, a friendly, optimistic girl who doesn’t really like the physical aspect of fighting; she’s more of the team’s strategist and medic than anything else. While she loves helping people beyond all else, if she’s allowed to patch someone up, then there’s a large chance some money or other small valuables will go missing from her pockets. Amber is unusually good at stealth work and recon, and is terrified to actually use her weapon; at the first sign of trouble, she’ll bolt, usually leaving either Ryota or Jake to pick up the pieces, so to speak. (Mark needs to keep up his timid kind boy act, or he’d do the dirty work, too.) She uses a set of daggers, four of which are throwing knives and two are meant for actual combat, that she’s named Veiled Glimmer.

    Does the Teal Unit seem developed enough to contribute to the story, or will I be better off omitting them entirely? Are their personalities compatible enough to form a working team structure, or no?

    Thanks in advance!


  253. Blackscaron 10 Sep 2013 at 3:40 pm


    I should add that the Silver Unit mainly does fieldwork when not teaching at the school, and that all teams are split into units, not just the students.
    Also, the units don’t all have color-themed names; just the three I’ve mentioned.


  254. Thalamuson 14 Sep 2013 at 3:00 am

    I’m a bit late in posting this – I asked for help a month or so ago – but better late than never.
    John Winters:
    -Moral integrity
    -Addiction to magic
    These traits combine to make someone who is intensely dependent on magic, to the level of psychological addiction to the power and control it brings (as with many sorcerers in the novel), but forces himself to abide by a set of moral rules in order to avoid taking the path of “least resistance” as it were and just giving in to the temptations of the worst kinds of magic. He does this because he is an immensely empathetic person, which gives him a need to help people who need it – he cannot do that if he doesn’t keep control over himself. His empathy means he has few close friends, as he knows they would be in harms way, and those he does have are mostly also sorcerers, who could look after themselves, or people he is close to by necessity (such as the local priest, who knows of the existence of magic due to presiding over John’s confessions, and so acts as a kind of moral sounding board and confidant).

    So, what do people think? I thought of the three traits I thought were most important to building John’s character, and went from there logically, working out how each would influence the others.

  255. B. McKenzieon 14 Sep 2013 at 8:23 am

    “His empathy means he has few close friends, as he knows they would be in harm’s way…” If he’s wary of opening up to people because it would endanger them, what causes him to reveal everything to the priest? That unusual decision (unusual for him, anyway) strikes me as a potentially interesting discrepancy.

  256. Thalamuson 14 Sep 2013 at 8:30 am

    @Blackscar: Apologies for the poor etiquette on my part there. I posted before I realised that there was an unanswered (and recent) request just above mine. I would like to give my opinion on your idea for your rival team: I think (though speaking as someone without a grasp of your wider storyline) that it should work well, especially since you seem to be going for a rival team that isn’t just a collection of bad or evil characters, but seems more balanced and developed than the usual rival teams you see in fiction, mostly sports movies and the like (a more recent example might be the ridiculously obvious “bad team” in Monsters University). They are certainly developed enough to contribute to any story, especially since they are not your main characters (at first glance I actually thought you were describing the main characters), and they seem about as balanced as most heroic teams in stories, so I expect they should be accepted by readers as a functional team. I hope this helps and, again, I apologise for the (albeit accidental) breach of internet etiquette, as it were.

  257. Thalamuson 14 Sep 2013 at 8:57 am

    @B. McKenzie: I see what you mean about the priest. There are reasons for this: partly, it is simply because John is Catholic and so would regularly attend confession, where he would reveal anything classified as a sin. John revealed magic during his first confession with Father Jeremy, as he wanted to make sure that he wasn’t doing anything that his God would disapprove of (and also confess various related sins, which wouldn’t really make sense out of context). The Father decided that, since the magic probably did not come from demons or it wouldn’t work in a church, it either came from God or was morally neutral. The reason they are close is that Father Jeremy is listed as one of the relatively few (around one thousand) non-mages in Britain with full knowledge of the magic world (knowledge of magic is on a sliding scale: someone who believed in magic but knew nothing about how it or its users truly operated would not count, while someone who knew so much about it that they could actually do it – i.e. all sorcerers – would be on a higher level than the priest) and so, unlike most people John has the opportunity to befriend, he is actually safer if he is the friend of a sorcerer like John rather than acting as an individual non-mage in the rather shady world of magic. Given these practical reasons, and the fact that they do like each other, it makes more sense.

  258. Blackscaron 14 Sep 2013 at 11:25 am


    Hey, you don’t need to apologize for anything! This is a public forum; I don’t own sole rights to asking a question! 🙂

    Thank you very much for your opinion on my team, by the way. I was hoping for them to not come across as the stereotypical “evil” rival team; they have their own storyline. While it may not be told from their perspectives, it will certainly intertwine with that of my main team.
    Who knows, I may just write a spin-off focusing on the Teal Unit at one point. Hopefully that idea will take off – I’m starting to like them quite a bit, haha.

    Anyway, I’m glad you think they could be accepted by readers as a functional team, and yes, it did help me quite a bit. (I was actually debating whether or not to include the Teal Unit in my story, but I think I’ll give it a shot. If they don’t fit the plot, I can always edit them out.)
    Thank you once more!


  259. Thalamuson 22 Sep 2013 at 2:53 am

    Ambrose Mierdan:
    Ambrose Mierdan is efficient (I was going to put “ruthless”, but he is never unnecessarily cruel, so efficient seems the better word – and it’s certainly how he’d phrase it) and an extremely rational person, which has aided him in becoming very good at his job as an enforcer for the Elder Court (governing body (or at least most influential and powerful group) of magic in England). He was initially more idealistic, even more moral than John tries to be, but a building full of people was destroyed because he couldn’t bring himself to execute even a mass murderer if it wasn’t in self-defence, and so he changed his worldview to becoming as efficient and rational as possible, not relying on compassion or traditional morality to guide him, just the laws he was sworn to uphold as an enforcer of the Court. He still feels guilt over the deaths of the people, as well as for abandoning his idealism, but he has sealed up those feelings in order to make himself better able to fight the Court’s enemies. Ambrose does not limit himself in terms of power as John does: Ambrose has, in a sense, given in to the temptation of power for a cost in a way that John hasn’t, but has managed to avoid losing himself to it, due to his immense belief in rationality, which gives him as much motivation to control himself as John’s morality.
    His relationship with John is defined by these characteristics: he sees John as a lot like the person he once was, and hates the idea that John manages to make it work. It makes his feelings of guilt worse, as he subconsciously begins to suspect that his failure was due to some inner weakness of his own, not the weakness of morality, but the most rationalist part of him just fears that John’s compassion could get them and others killed. Either way, John makes him uncomfortable.
    Equally, John feels uncomfortable around Ambrose, as he knows that Ambrose was once more like him in terms of morality, and John sees Ambrose as a person who has abandoned goodness, so he realises that the same could happen to him. This increases John’s discipline and devotion to morality, because he fears losing control of himself.

  260. Bluron 01 Jun 2014 at 8:18 pm

    My character’s name is Gerhard Schultz , he is a genetically enhanced counter-terrorist agent he works for the GSG9 ( German elite anti terrorism unit) He is stronger , faster , tougher and has better senses than the average human being , he also is proficient in many fighting styles after a international terrorist syndicate steals the technology for creating super-soldiers , Gerhard Schultz battles the new and dangerous threat of meta-human terrorism.

    Traits: Chivalrous , Fortitude , Honorable , Law-abiding , Kind , Brave
    he’s basically a modern knight following similar ethics

    Traits : Impulsive ( so brave he often runs into action without thinking ) however he gradually becomes more cautious due to the damage his powers could do without thinking , Foolhardy , will NOT play dirty where his enemies certainly will and exploit his honor.

  261. B. McKenzieon 02 Jun 2014 at 5:37 am

    Blur, I’d recommend giving him a more distinctive personality.

  262. Bluron 02 Jun 2014 at 6:40 pm

    What would you suggest?

  263. B. McKenzieon 02 Jun 2014 at 9:03 pm

    1) I feel virtually every superhero is some degree of impulsive and foolhardy, so I’d recommend thinking about other personality traits to create limitations and/or exacerbate problems.

    2) His personality strikes me as generically nice. Will he get the opportunity to make interesting, memorable decisions and/or fuel awesome scenes with his personality? If a character is 100% chivalrous, my guess would be he probably won’t get as many opportunities as a character who’s a bit less restrained in some way. (Which doesn’t necessarily mean that he needs to be morally gray… for example, Tony Stark, Quicksilver, and Mr. Incredible are relatively pure but still have very interesting personalities).

    Also, maybe he has an unusual motivation for wanting to stop the villain than just him being a cop and the bad guy being a criminal? E.g. in Iron-Man, there’s some ideological/personal differences between the two main characters and in my own The Taxman Must Die, the protagonist is probably acting as much out of self-preservation as because he’s an investigator on a case.

  264. Bluron 03 Jun 2014 at 1:54 pm

    Thanks B.Mac, but I forgot to mention one of his traits that will definitely create challenges and drama for him , Gerhard Schultz is suicidallly determined he is more interested in protecting the world from super-powered terrorists and extremists than coming back to Germany alive , I also forgot the specifics of how he got his own super-human abilities ,
    he was genetically enhanced by cutting-edge technology and on that note I mentioned how this gradually changes his perspectives on the article that deals with that sort of thing.

  265. Linkon 16 Sep 2015 at 11:09 am

    I have an idea for a story…(not a superhero story but a sci-fi story[my superhero story is on haitus and i’ll probably delete it because it’s slightly cheesy and needs a ton of work])…okay so the story is inspired (not based or a rip-off of) Farseed, by Pamela Sargent. Basically it’s about six teenagers from The Settlement (where Earth’s remaining humans crash landed and currently live in) trying to make sense of this strange Planet, try to figure out what happened on Earth and establish a second settlement. The six characters are:

    Link–the leader–confident, intelligent, light-hearted, reckless, self-appointed, arrogant and charming

    Sike–the ‘healer–idealistic, moody, lethargic and creative

    Alek–the construction worker–methodical, serious, paranoid, dedicated, asocial and analytical

    Iziko–the jack of all trades– strong willed, clueless, self-assured and impulsive

    Koh–the self appointed co-leader–rebellious,sophisticated, self-centered, just and competitive

    Saila–crafter (furniture, weapons and clothing)–honest (to a fault), innocent, pushover, naive, curious and immature.

    And I planned for the story to start off with The Settlement’s decision to let them go and of course starvation, bushfire, an attack from the Raiders (a nomadic group that left the Settlement decades ago), and a trap and then the story ends with victory and the successful establishment of Klasis, the new settlement.

    What do you think?

  266. Vixis Shiar'Deluson 16 Mar 2016 at 4:39 pm

    Opinions on characters motive and flaw are welcomed and hoped for:

    Due to some of the tragedies and general loss that Alexander Winslow saw growing up coupled with his fairly empathetic personality, Alex had always felt the urge to try and help people. He wanted to try and make the world a bit better of a place, but never really put much thought into how his actions could impact others. He wanted to help, and refused people who’d asked him not to, forcing himself into their lives if he needed to. However, he is also unwilling to sacrifice himself or others that are close to him to help others. He is empathetic to others, and very much wants to help…but he can’t bring himself to make certain sacrifices that may be necessary.

  267. Grinny faceon 24 Mar 2016 at 9:48 am

    Question : which character sounds more interesting and has more potential for humour? A character who from scene one is shown as a cool headed clever schemer, or a character who initially gets shown as a shy awkward introvert, and maybe actually is to some extent, but later can get cool headed and pretty diabolical in a pinch?

  268. Dream Catcheron 24 Mar 2016 at 10:45 am


    Those all seem to be a pretty good mixture of traits. My two questionables would be Iziko and Saila.

    If Iziko is a jack of all trades, it’s hard for me to imagine him as clueless. That’s the only thing I saw as a possible problem in his traits, but I also don’t know how clueless manifests itself in his personality, so it may be just fine.

    As far as Saila, is she a child? She’s obviously childlike. I’m not sure how her personality will necessarily go with crafting either. Is she anything like Luna Lovegood?

    Grinny Face-

    It’s hard to say for your question what’s better. From the information you gave, the second character is far more interesting because he/she has flaws that could be obstacles in the story. However, I would like the “cool headed clever schemer” from page one, as long as page 2 or 3 starts to show some chinks in the armor.

    In some ways, I think it’s good to begin your story showcasing all the strengths and none of the weaknesses of the protagonist. It lets you come in on the best current version of themselves before slowly chipping in the flaws you didn’t see, which tend to reveal themselves as things get tougher.

    But as the flaws pop up, the hero finds a way around them until he grows enough to win the conflict and emerge at the end of the story a much better version of the character than he was at the beginning.

  269. William Keatingon 26 Sep 2016 at 12:35 pm

    Can I ask.

    In the case of a villian character, would you choose two negative traits? Or to make them more interesting have the same thing as the other characters, two positive and one negative?

    Because an obversation I found is that in many cases real life villians are not really evil, just misguided Hitler believe what he was doing was for the good of the German/ Aryan people, and Pol Pot never consider what he did a crime.

    Of course there’s the theory saying it’s better to make a character interesting than likeable. It explains why we like Edmund Blackadder or Franis Urquhart/ Frank Underwood.

  270. young grasshopperon 26 Sep 2016 at 4:14 pm

    Hey William, I think that for villains, you either want to make the audience love to hate them or hate to love him. A brilliant example is Harry Potter: everyone hates Dolores Umbridge, and we love how much we get to hate her, whereas Draco Malfoy is somewhat lovable, but that fact that he’s evil (for most of the story) makes some people uncomfortable at the fact that they like him. If you think your character is better for the story if their easier to hate (but not one-dimensionally evil), then go with that. As for my own story, I’ve been developing one of my main protagonists, and I’ve recently come to the conclusion that he has megalomania. Could it be interesting to see a hero slowly succumb to power hunger and and an intense desire for control?

  271. (o_n')on 27 Sep 2016 at 5:24 am

    I think it would be hard to making an interesting villain with only one good trait. There should be a balance.

    -My main character is bit of Kantian Sherlock Holmes, to soften her a bit I made her a family person by heart, but not always by choice. She has stormy relationship with her dad and don’t see her mother often, because her mother lives in another part of the country.

  272. Skyon 23 Apr 2018 at 9:41 am

    I know the ‘adopted-orphan-who’s-secretly-not-completely-human’ is kinda overdone these days, especially when said orphan doesn’t even know they’re special, but is it more excusable if she isn’t super angsty about dead-or-missing parents, actively loves as appreciates her fosters, and finds out who her one of her parents is?

    (Yes, it is the nonhuman. However here’s been with her most of the book and he’s her guardian angel, so it’s not like some weirdly protective stranger that keeps showing up to save her.)

  273. Kendalon 21 May 2018 at 7:53 pm

    I’m trying to develop one of my characters. His name is Zechariah and he’s a bit mysterious. He’s been interrogated by the government (they discovered his abilities) and he’s also been bullied. After all of this, Zech wants to blend in. I’m trying to make him more interesting. Any thoughts?

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