My Reflections on Writing Excuses 13.08 – Making Characters Distinctive

Flaws, quirks, attitudes, and attributes – what makes a character distinctive?

Episode Rating: 🌟 🌟 🌟

Humor: 🌟

Usefulness to me right now: 🌟 🌟 🌟


The podcasters started right off the bat talking about the thing I personally thought was the least useful for promoting character distinctiveness – flaws.

And again, I think this is because of personal preference.

When I think of my family members or friends, and I think about what makes one distinct from another, I don’t think about what I don’t like about them, or what I think they fail at doing. To me and the way I was raised, that feels overly and uselessly judgmental.

But the more the conversation on the cast went, the more I could see how flaws and associated quirks do make my characters distinct.

There was one particular comment that changed my thinking and that was where the podcasters noted the difference between a handicap and a flaw. Characters can have handicaps, and those handicaps can impact the story and cause obstacles, but the character needs to have more defining them beyond that handicap. Flaws, quirks, personalities, and attitudes are all things that extend that definition out.

This will be a good podcast to stew about as I prepare to start my next story pre-writing exercises in a couple of weeks.

Today’s reaction feels a little muted to me – maybe it’s rustiness from not doing them for a couple of weeks.

How do you make your characters distinct?

One thought on “My Reflections on Writing Excuses 13.08 – Making Characters Distinctive

  1. As a personal rule I usually define my characters by the core values of my narrative, which is also why I’m a very poor storyteller. My β€œshort stories” are built exactly like debates in which characters are actually multiples facets and points of views around the issue I’d like to highlight. Very often, the real issue at stake is not solved in the end, that’s also why I stopped writing altogether, unable to find the peace of mind I crave for.

    While defining the profiles of my characters, I take extreme care about the naming part because they can have massive consequences on both the plot and the reader. Do you remember that “Blade and Soul” game I told you about a few weeks ago? Well just try it for about 15min and you’ll get completely disoriented by all the names that just sound the same in no time.

    One thing I’m having trouble with is dead-set flat characters, because they really bring upon the reader that terrible idea the characters are acting in a closed environment. It can be good in some very specific cases like Huxley’s “Brave New World” or Hugo’s “The Last Day of a Condemned Man”, but more often than not, I’m not willing to give the story that bubble wrap packaging.

    So… Yeah, it’s not really an answer but defining your characters is to me rather superfluous because of my thought process. Sorry Grant >_<‘ .

    Liked by 1 person

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