I am currently writing a story that alternates perspectives between the hero and heroine every other chapter. I have gotten a lot of work done with the heroine's chapters, but I have been trouble writing for the hero's perspective. The hero is a young, wealthy business owner who has had his fair share of women and comes off as arrogant and over confident, but is actually a good guy.

It's been hard for me to look inside the mind of a player. I don't want to make him seem like an antagonist but I still want to keep his cockiness there as I'm writing his thoughts.

What are some ways to convey his personality through his thoughts?

Thank you!

2 Answers 2


I think the best way to write from his perspective would be to emphasize the way what he means is quite different from the way people perceive him, so as to show that his 'bad boy' nature is, in fact, a misconception of his character.

There are a few ways of doing this:

Implied through action:

Confident people tend to take the lead without really thinking.

For example: say he's part of a group eating dinner and he instantly sits at the head of the table. This could be totally subconscious, but others see it as him being 'full of himself' because 'he didn't even ask!'

Another example might be him deciding which restaurant to go to by himself because he feels like Chinese food, without realizing that one of the people in the group is allergic/doesn't like Chinese, making him seem inconsiderate.

Part of the way confidence can be misconstrued as arrogance is due to the way confident people are used to taking the lead and doing what they want - the assumption being, that if someone else wanted it, they'd have done it first or speak up - without realizing that introverts/timid people would have a very hard time doing it, and might just label the confident person as selfish for not asking.

Then there's option two:

Implied through dialogue:

Confident people tend to speak in a manner that leaves less room for being contradicted or denied.

Asking leading questions that imply you've already said yes to a different topic is a very confident manner of speaking - it makes it seem like the speaker doesn't believe for a second there was a chance of the word 'no' (and maybe he really does believe that!)

Note that this is a common pickup artist tactic, which I think is an excellent topic of research when trying to write confident characters - their mannerisms might be especially helpful with writing a convincing playboy.

Example: "Hey, Jessica, what's better for you - Saturday or Sunday?" Will asked, tapping her on the shoulder to get her attention.

Jessica turned around. "Saturday... um, for what?"

"Our date." Will grinned.

Another way of showing this is saying questions as statements, like flipping money at someone and saying 'get me a mocha latte.' - this could be a carried over from being a business man used to ordering around his secretary.

Even more ideas - apologizing can be seen as weak, especially if done too often, and so your character subconsciously avoids it by opting for other phrases - instead of "Sorry I'm late." he might say "Thanks for waiting."

and lastly:

Implied through thought:

Confident people tend to think in a way where failure isn't an option.

Instead of thinking Will Jessica say yes if I ask her out? he might think I should take Jessica to [insert restaurant here] on our date. as though she already said yes.

Or if there's rumors of a promotion in his company, he might think I hope my new office has windows. because he just assumes he'll be chosen due to being more competent than his co-workers.

That being said, having him be utterly unshakable would get boring quick - you should still have a couple moments/things in the story which make him crumple - lets say he can't stand up to his mother for the life of him, and docilely does everything she says even if he hates it, or say, he gets really shaken when he discovers that one of his girlfriends cheated on him for once, or the promotion went to someone who he thought he was better than in every way, ect. ect.

Moments of weakness is what makes even the strongest characters seem human!

One last additional thought - confidence is a virtue people love, and a over-confidence (and womanizing) is a pretty likable flaw in fiction - it seems unlikely to me that the readers might see him as an antagonist.

  • 1
    Now that's one great answer!
    – user5645
    Commented Feb 4, 2017 at 8:14
  • 3
    This an excellent answer, but I just want to add another thought to your last one, which is that I think - because a lot of people like these qualities in a character - the real danger here is actually that the character comes off as someone the reader is expected to admire ("He seems like a bad boy, but - oh - he's just misunderstood!"). Now, the writer may or may not intend this, of course, but I always think it's more interesting when negative traits (even if the character is essentially well meaning) are shown as actually negative, with real consequences. Commented Feb 4, 2017 at 13:09
  • What an incredible answer! This really helped me to improve the thoughts of my over-confident and stubborn hero. Thank you so much!
    – T. Afrin
    Commented Feb 4, 2017 at 23:53
  • @TheTermiteSociety Having the typical "misunderstood bad boy" is another problem that I am afraid I may face. Of course since he is the hero of the story, I want him to be likable, but I do not want this story to end up like every other "the bad boy gets the good girl." The heroine is a "goody-two-shoes" but she also has her own flaws. Would you have any advice to make this story seem less cliche?
    – T. Afrin
    Commented Feb 4, 2017 at 23:57
  • 1
    @T.Afrin I think one of the things cliche characters have in common is that they seem to not quite fit the world they're in (like they've just been pasted in). So, let him brush against your world, make sure his flaws are real flaws, and actually do make people's lives difficult, and do backfire on him from time to time, and I think you'll be alright. The fact that he isn't just misunderstood by others, but actually doesn't understand them either, is a real flaw, but it's also a relatable one, and I think if he really does mean well, this will show through, and he'll still be likeable. Commented Feb 5, 2017 at 17:06

I just heard a Fresh Air podcast yesterday about this. (I'm a bit behind in my listening.)

In 'You're The Worst,' Even The Most Flawed Characters Find Love

The writer talks about using side characters to criticize the self-centeredness of their friends, the protagonists. I recommend listening to the podcast rather than reading the transcript.

(You might or might not also like to watch the program itself. I haven't. Also I'm not sure if that would limit your thinking.)

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