The thing I usually focus on in my story are the characters. They are the ones I can do, but at the same time not. I had a concept of a character but I sometimes think that they are too generic. Sometimes I think they are great and just need some execution to make it even better; however that goes on my mind in a loop. I doubt myself and the character's concept so much so that I sometimes shelved them since I didn't know what to do and I have to do something else to make progress at.

I sometimes think that the concepts are cliché. To get the idea, I had a character who is sheltered at home for being simply too dangerous for the world. And if not taken care of correctly they'll get on their dangerous side, but it feels not good. It's like a generic trope or character.

2 Answers 2


The Straight Man:

No, not a heterosexual male. In comedy, a straight man is someone who behaves in the most boring way possible, not responding comedically to comedic situations. They act like the outrageously weird thing happening is perfectly serious, and their serious responses to outrageous situations is what makes it so funny.

A similar situation is embodied by Tucker's Kobolds in gaming. The tiny, weak kobold, with the application of clever dungeon design, is allowed to endlessly trap, snipe, and torment vastly more powerful characters with impunity. Take big, massively overpowered characters and place them in a situation where their massive powers are worthless — tiny corridors, traps, etc.

If you find your characters are a bit boring, then put them in situations where their boring nature is exciting! The pacifist in a war zone, the lesbian sales person at a lounge lizard convention, or your action hero having to negotiate a peace treaty. Their boring, predictable role is challenged by the situation, and they must rise to the occasion or risk failing spectacularly (which can be fun to write as well).

You'll also find that this is great for character DEVELOPMENT. Your characters evolve as the story goes, but they can't evolve if they do the same things over and over. Your superhero can teleport instantly like light, but now needs to negotiate with the mole people underground where the hero's power is worthless. They learn to be humble, respect other cultures, and possibly fail in a comedic way trying to use their powers in a way they should never have needed to. But perhaps someday the ability to teleport through a tiny crack from deep underground will save the world. Who knows? It's your story.


Give your characters "conflicting" traits. All my heroes have something they are great at, which is how they make their "living" so to speak, and something they are not very good at and tend to avoid if possible. Then the story revolves around them having a problem that appears to require the skill they are not very good at, with little opportunity to use the skill they ARE good at.

But all characters can have some sort of conflicting traits, even psychologically. Mary is very attractive, but doesn't like the kind of men she attracts, and the men she does find attractive are shy. If she wants to find somebody, she has to act against her natural inclinations and take the lead.

Just stuff like that. The only one-dimensional characters you should have are "walk-ons", those like waiters or mail men or clerks or cab drivers that make only one appearance in the story. You can make them vanilla, or "one-dimensional" with a single unusual trait; e.g. your cab driver makes constant dad-jokes, or can't stop talking about his three year old son and everything reminds him of a story about his son, something he said or did. Stuff like that.

Any reoccurring character, including a villain, should have more than one trait, and for story purposes, these traits should not be all-good or all-bad, but a mixture of pluses and minuses.

That is what makes them "people", even in their own mind they should have obstacles to overcome.

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