Tips on Writing for the Anti Hero

Hello Writer bees!

Happy New Year everyone!

We’re starting off 2023 with some writing tips. And funny enough, this topic was inspired by my non-writer boyfriend. For weeks, he has been singing – loudly and off-key, mind you – that Taylor Swift song, ‘Anti Hero’. So much so, I told him “Maybe I should write a post about Anti-Heroes.” To which he replied, “I would love that!”

So today, we are rooting – I mean writing – for the Anti-Hero.

What is an Anti-Hero?

Yes, we all love a knight in shining armor. We all love a Superman. But not every protagonist is a golden hero with a pure heart. In simple terms, an Anti-Hero is a type of protagonist character in a story. However, they don’t look like your traditional hero. Lacking the traits typically associated with heroes, an anti-hero is complex and flawed. Their actions are morally ambiguous.

Non-So-Heroic Traits

It’s all in the characterization of the anti-hero, what traits you give them. Consider this, if a conventional hero is selfless and a team player, the anti-hero would be more self-interested and an outcast. While their intentions may be noble, their morals and actions may not be. Ends justify the means, right? They will do whatever is needed to reach a goal, including making a few “bad” decisions. Also to note, when building characters, really dig into their backstory and their internal conflicts. What do they struggle with? How has their personal history impacted their personality?

Anti-Heroes and Antagonists

Keep in mind, there’s a fine line between the anti-hero and the antagonist. Yes, the anti-hero will engage in actions that may seem villainous and corrupt. However, they cannot cross into villain territory. They can toe the line of evil, but never be as evil is the antagonist. If it’s for the greater good, this morally misguided protagonist will take whatever action they deem necessary to accomplish their mission. For the anti-hero, being a bad guy doesn’t make them the bad guy. Did I get that Wreck-It Ralph quote right?

Foils

Think of it like this, every Batman needs a Robin. A good anti-hero needs a good foil, someone who breaks down the hero’s tough exterior and shows another side of them. The foil – whether that be a sidekick or love interest or family member- shines light on the anti-hero’s redeeming qualities. Supporting characters can be an asset to an anti-hero’s characterization.

All in all, you should create a hero that the audience will want to root for.


Who are some of your favorite anti-heroes? Lemme know in the comments!

Write with heart.

Love,

Lady Jabberwocky

4 thoughts on “Tips on Writing for the Anti Hero

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