Before I start with writing my story, I would of course like to have some OC's (original characters --ones not taken from an existing work). I am struggling to make OC's that I don't hate. I somehow end up always making them similar to each other, a way too perfect person or just a better version of myself.

How do I create a good OC that I don't hate? I would like some advice.


2 Answers 2


In general, when you find something hard to write, it's because you're not in the habit of observing it in real life. For instance, I struggle with writing visual detail, because I'm not naturally visually observant. To help that, I try to practice visual mindfulness as much as possible. If you're not a very social person, or even if you are, but you don't pay a lot of attention to interpersonal dynamics, you might struggle to create original characters.

Try going some place where you'll interact with a lot of people --ask them about themselves and their lives. Maybe read a couple of pop-psychology books and see if you can analyze the personalities of people you meet (not out loud, of course!). Start paying more attention to the interpersonal dynamics in your friend group, or in your family. Who is confident? Who is insecure? Which people are competitive of each other? Who has a crush on someone? Which two people can't stand each other? Who is secretive, and who is an open book? The best source for characters is life.

For your main character in particular, you'll want to START their bio with a flaw or deep seated need, because you'll build your story around them overcoming the flaw and fulfilling the need --or at least trying to. In fact, the other characters, the storyline, and even the setting can all grow out of initial flaw --they can be designed to intensify it, mitigate it or fix it.

  • "Try going some place where you'll interact with a lot of people --ask them about themselves and their lives." Given that this site, and this answer, will be here for a long time, this is a great idea. Right now though, my default reaction is nope no thanks not today no people please... :P Jul 14, 2021 at 20:36
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    It doesn't necessarily have to be in person, although online, of course, gives you a very different experience of people. But there's really no substitute for building characters than getting to know people. You could base it on well-written characters in other people's work, but that tends to be derivative. Jul 15, 2021 at 3:09
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    Completely agree - the current situation is just doing a number on me! Jul 15, 2021 at 9:19

Perfection is flawed:

There was a study done of the traits that people found attractive, even subtle differences. But when they took all the most attractive features and placed them on one person's image, it was the most non-descript person you've ever seen.

The same thing is true of character development. A strong and true character with flawless skills, body, and impeccable performance is about as inspired as wet cardboard. You could have a character like that, but then it won't be the main character, because no one wants to read that. Cindy Crawford would be dull without the mole. She'd be pretty, but not notable. It's the distinguishing imperfections that make people stand out from others.

Now, those imperfections can be in a variety of forms. Your character could be virtuous but impetuous. Strong of character but trapped in the body of a 6-year-old. An avenging angel who's lost their ability to judge right from wrong. Out to save the world, but unwilling to accept help in an impossible task. The forms are infinite.

So rather than make an idealized version of yourself, create a character that takes one of your flaws and exemplifies it - takes it to a ridiculous level. If you're shy, they're a masked superhero because they can't stand anyone seeing them, or knowing who they are. Yet they have all this power and are forced to increasing levels of exposure to accomplish their goals. And therein lies drama.

Make life REALLY hard on your hero. They don't have a perfect family, but instead their kin are monsters (literal or metaphorical). Dealing with people who are really terrible, yet close and intimate family, means they must try to reconcile very different elements into a seemingly impossible paradox - the moral criminal, or the virtuous fiend. Or else they must renounce and betray everything they were raised to follow and believe in.

Place your hero in situations (or with backgrounds) where they must make impossible moral decisions. Fight injustice and risk killing innocents as collateral damage. Are the police corrupt? Are you sure they're ALL corrupt, or does your vigilante kill the poor rookie who's first day on the job is his last?

The more perfect your character, the worse the abuses you need to drop on them. Give them a haunted past, a terrible fate, a deadly weakness, or a tragic flaw. Then see what happens.

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