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Characters — Not All the Same

March 1, 2013

Not long ago, I read a suspense novel in which almost every character was the same. They were wealthy, above average intelligence and “portly.” The word “portly” must have appeared at least 5 times in regards to a character’s description. It sort of vexed me.

Take a gander around at the park, on the sidewalk, at the supermarket. There are similarities, sure, but everyone is not the same. You may see a black woman, Asian man, a teenage girl with pigtails, a skinny person, an overweight person. This is the reality of the world we live in, so when writing your story give your characters different appearances and idiosyncrasies, especially when it comes to personality.

A few questions to ask yourself:
What are your character’s strengths and weaknesses?
Does your character have vices?
How do they deal under pressure?
Does your character walk with a limp?
Is he/she graceful or awkward?

Build your other characters around your main character. Create a contrasting character that the main may or may not be allied with. Also, a similar character that the main may or may not be friends with. For example, if you create a character that speaks in “perfect” English, his/her best friend might have very bad grammar. Think about it…

Not everyone in life is the same, and the characters in your story should not be clones.


Sean would like very much to correspond with others about writing and life in general. If you are interested, send a short note about yourself and why you would like to write to Sean to He will answer you by regular mail if you include your address.

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