36

The trait that makes Dolores Umbridge, and other characters, repulsive, is sadism. Enjoying the suffering of others, enjoying causing pain - we find that unforgivable. A villain who hurts others due to some twisted perception of it being right and necessary - they can (theoretically) come to understand that their motivation was wrong. But for Umbridge, who ...


25

The protagonist is the person whose story you tell. The protagonist can be a witness to important events that he doesn't have a hand in, or she can be the sidekick to a hero, but the story must focus on how the protagonist experiences these events. The protagonist might not be the most important person from the perspective of a historian evaluating an ...


19

By inviting the relevant people (or their families) to your creative team. Many books and movies are made "with the cooperation of" so and so. This can mean a single interview, or just permission to to use certain materials, or it can involve multiple interviews or bringing in the person to the set (if filmed). In other cases, the relevant person, or a ...


19

IN GENERAL for the modern novel, the MC is the one with a problem to solve, the MC has to take the risks, and the MC has to solve the problem. One exception to this rule I can think of is Dr. Watson in the Sherlock Holmes series, he is the "MC" that tells the story. Most analysts believe Doyle did this specifically to hide the thoughts and feelings of ...


15

In my opinion: you should let the condition speak for itself. I agree with Alexander when he says that people who hold authors' feet to the fire are overblowing things, as a lot of these people would probably feel safer about themselves if whatever condition they have could easily be tied to a character who was diagnosed with the same thing. If you want one ...


13

It can work sometimes, especially if your main character is a pinball protagonist who is simply caught up in events happening around them or to them. For instance Arthur Dent is very clearly the main character of Hitch Hiker's Guide to the Galaxy, but for a large portion of the book series he instigates almost nothing and does almost nothing on his own. ...


12

You don't have to diagnose it as "PTSD" or whatever name WE use for it, but you can have a character call it out as a real thing: They are an expert, they have seen many soldiers with a similar collection of symptoms, perhaps as a comfort to the person suffering this (i.e. you are not alone, you are not imagining it, you are not weak or defective for ...


10

Welcome to the SE. What is the story? The gayest drag queen in the world would probably watch a story about the Vietnam War as long as it was done well. I'm certain there's at least one or two LGBTQ folks out there who enjoyed Good Morning Vietnam. Everyone was straight in that movie. You make your cast what it needs to be to support the story. Find ...


7

There are pitfalls into which you are more likely to fall if you base your protagonists on yourself and/or people you care about. These pitfalls can trouble you regardless, but if you're basing a character on yourself, you need to be particularly aware of them. Here are some, in no particular order: Mary-Sue characters: how self-critical are you? Are you ...


6

Let the Reader Diagnose (But that means you need to give them symptoms) You don't need to tell the reader "Eris has PTSD." You do need to give them enough info to get there themselves. Harry doesn't need a diagnosis for you to intuitively understand why his heart is pounding out of his chest every time he sees someone wearing a cloak that looks like "You-...


6

I think there are two dimensions to this. The first is: what makes a real-world person irredeemable? A fictional character with the same traits will then, presumably, also be irredeemable. I think the already-provided answers by Galastel, Amadeus and Francine DeGrood Taylor do a great job of discussing this idea. The second is: how does a character ...


5

Don't introduce them all at once --that's not a story, that's a cast list. Bring them in one at a time, or in small groups, when needed by the storyline, and describe them in ways that illuminate their importance to the protagonist and the narrative: There, standing outside the door was Rachel. Her once flame-red hair was now tinged with gray. As I saw ...


5

In ordinary life, what makes a person "irredeemable" is a theological/philosophical question, to which people have many different and variant answers. But in fiction, what makes a character irredeemable is simply that the reader doesn't want to see them redeemed. The reader reaches a breaking point with the character, and is no longer interested in any ...


5

This is perfectly fine as long as your protagonist's character arc is satisfying and complete. If someone else is stealing the show at the end, there may be good reason for that, and lessons to learn for everybody. If your characters are part of one team (even a dysfunctional one), your task is even easier. The reader would be rooting for the team success, ...


5

Yes, I believe you will have to change your character's name. I'm not a lawyer, but I believe if the name is trademarked, you can't use it, and you probably can't use anything like it for such a similar character. The idea of combining these two species is not copyrighted; but a trademark is different than a copyright: A jury can decide anything similar ...


4

Establish their winglessness before you establish their method of gestating children. You're absolutely right that this is an easier task when you have a character who is from the culture of the reader. It's also fairly easy if the narrator takes the reader's perceptive when describing the aliens. You don't want to use your narrator in that way (nor ...


4

Make them all participate in a game. This can be any kind of a game - a recreational sports game (but no face masks please), a card game or a funny game at a party. Every participant should get in a spotlight, the spotlight can be moved quickly, and the gameplay hopefully should make the whole scene interesting rather than boring. As the game progresses, ...


4

Additional Reading, not worth retyping fully here: What if neither the protagonist nor antagonist wins? I feel my protagonist is too "detached" from the main plot. What should I do? Protagonist - Character who is working towards one or many goals. They are pro-active. They do things. Main characters are not necessarily protagonists. ...


3

@CrisSunami is spot-on: don't introduce all your characters at once. Don't start with a scene where they are all present - start with a few characters, then bring in more. Having a great many unfamiliar characters all at once is extremely confusing to the reader: imagine walking into a room with 12 people you've never met before, and you're expected to ...


3

Interesting points. I tend to disagree that readers lose interest in antiheros. The main character in Dexter comes to mind (along with most teenagers I know, hehe). I think it’s not just a character’s striving for self improvement that hooks the audience, altho most people can relate to that concept, but equally compelling is to get into the mind of the ...


3

Short answer: maybe nothing. Just because you "hate" two different characters doesn't mean you hate them for the same reason. Empathizing with a character, or considering them nonredeemable, is an extremely personal decision. Many times it will have more to do with a reader's experiences and values than with the character's actions. For most, rape is ...


3

We tend to assume whatever we're reading about is humanoid, unless we're told otherwise. (In fact, multiple stories exploit this trope to reveal later in the story, or in the very end, that the character wasn't in fact human.) Which is to say, your readers are going to start with the assumption that the characters are humanoid. You fear that once your ...


2

You can create a character that is a fraud, and seems to have inherent weaknesses, but once in a while they act out of character and against their supposed weakness, in some situation that is critical. The reader will suspect the weakness is not really a weakness, and thus the character is a fraud, but nobody in-universe (unless you want them to) notices ...


2

There's an ambiguity in the OP's question which we need to consider first. When we say a character is irredeemable, do we mean in and of themselves (without external reference), or to a neutral third party (such as a reader?), or to someone affected by their actions (another character)? What does it mean, to describe someone as "redeemed"? This is a truly ...


2

The real question is, at the end of the book is the reader going to wonder "But what about …?"? If the character wasn't especially interesting and didn't leave loose ends, then there is no need for a reappearance. But too often, that isn't the case. The film "Vertigo", suffers from this problem with the character Midge Wood, who simply disappears from the ...


2

The issue is how "trauma aware" you are to trauma as a writer rather than calling it out as PTSD or labelling it as "trauma" explicitly. The frustration resulting in the "call-out" is the anger at the lack of trauma awareness in writing. This unfortunately triggers the reader, especially if there is the denigration of the trauma experience and its impact ...


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