Tag Archives: character

How to Not Write a Total Jerk Character In Fiction.

Mayday! Mayday!

You’re writing a story. When suddenly, a character you’re creating is taking a nose dive right into unlikable jerk territory.

Have no fear, Lady Jabberwocky is here! Let me try and help save your character from being total terror.

Whether they be hot tempered, or rude, or just have a nasty attitude,  you have created a character who is nothing but bad qualities. Yes, there are antagonists and villains and personified rain clouds, however, is that all they are? Just… the bad guy?

Here are some tips for creating a character we love to hate (and not hate to hate).

Changing Point of View

If your story involves multiple perspective and narratives, perhaps consider having your jerk character try on the narrator hat for a bit. How do they see the world? Are they really as nasty as they seem? What are their home lives like? Is there a reason for their rudeness? Take a walk in their shoes. By doing this, it can give the reader insight to that characters backstory and perspective.

Create Obstacles

Let there a be a struggle that shows another side of their character. The reader will gain a level of empathy for this character if they see them face some kind of hardship. Maybe the character learns from their past mistakes? Or feels guilt about something? Or has to face a real, serious conflict, either internal or external. Give the character a hill to climb.

Give Them a Redeemable Trait

Anything. There has to be something good. No matter how horrible and cruel someone is, there must be some redeemable quality. Are they charming? Quick witted? Hard working? Show some level of respect or affection towards another? Like animals? (Who doesn’t like puppies?) You catch my drift. Any sort of positive trait to balance out the not so positive traits.


Don’t just have a character who is only recognized by the reader as being a terrible person. Real characters, like real people, need a balance in order to be complex.

Hope this helps some writer out there. In the comments, let me know who your favorite jerk character you love to hate.

Write with Heart,

Lady Jabberwocky.

Writing Prompt Weekend #14

How does your character pass the time when they are alone?


It’s one thing to see how a character interacts with others, in public. It’s another to to see what a character does when they are by themselves, when no one else is around.

Write your response in the comments below, best entry gets a shout out next week!

Write with Heart,

Lady Jabberwocky

Writing Prompt Weekend #13

Suddenly, the power goes out! Your character(s) are stuck with no electricity, no internet. Just darkness. What happens now? What caused the lights to go out? How does your character  handle the situation?

Can be any genre, any time period.


Unlucky #13, lovelies! So, yesterday, a big storm hit New York, and we lost power for a couple hours. That’s what inspired this weekend’s prompt. Makes you take for granted the little things, y’know? Like electricity and internet. Anyways, write your response in the comments, best one gets a shout out next week!

Write with Heart,

Lady Jabberwocky.

5 Tips for Naming Characters

indecisive-novelist

Comic by Tom Gauld

 

I don’t know about you guys, but for me, naming a character is like naming a child. When creating a character, the name you choose for them is incredible significant. It ties them to the setting, to their roots, even to a greater symbolic meaning. I can’t start writing about a character until they are given their name, the name that just fits. Here are my tips on naming fictional characters.

Baby Naming Website 

Okay, this may sound weird, right off the bat, but trust me on this one. Those baby naming websites for overly pregnant ladies are actually really helpful. If you are looking for a name with a certain letter, number of syllables, or cultural origin, there’s information on those kind of sites. Just be careful if someone sees you looking at baby names, they may be concerned.

Historical Context 

If your story takes place in another time period, keep in mind the historical context. Find out what names were common at the time. If you google something like ‘names from 1920s’, a list of popular names from the 1920s will probably pop up. Also the Social Security Administration website will appear with a ranked list of common names of the decade. It’s pretty useful, and it’ll give you a feel for the time.

Sound it out. 

Out loud. If it doesn’t sound right, or its difficult to pronounce, or just sounds like a mouthful, something’s off. Keep trying. Once you’ve found a name that suits your character, it should just click.

((Pet Peeve Break))

((I have this pet peeve of names that sound completely made up. Like Chloe Stormgrave or or Jace Winterfang. When would you ever meet someone with a name like that in real life? Other than in a game of Dungeons and Dragons? Choosing a name just because it sounds cool is just unrealistic. Yes, I know, somewhere out there may be a Stormgrave family or whatever, but you gotta admit, it is an unlikely name. So please, for me, choose a name that sounds realistic and not like a character for an RPG game. Seriously, it just bothers me. ))

Named After Someone

Occasionally, I’ll name a character after someone in my life, whether they are still alive or deceased. Not their full name, of course, usually just their first name. Another option is naming them after an author, or an actor, or some lady on the news, anyone really. Names are all over the place, you just have to keep your eyes open. My character Oscar, his last name, Fitzgerald, came from F Scott Fitzgerald.

Be Careful of Similar names.

Try not to have two characters’ names sound similar. Stuff like that can really confuse readers. One time, in fiction writing class, a classmate had two characters named Flip and Clip whom, if I remember correctly, were involved in gang related activities or hunted by police. One of them, we’re not sure who, got shot by an undercover cop and died. The whole class had no idea which one died nor what was happening. Just be aware of that and distinguish your characters from one another.

Hope these tips were helpful for the next time your stuck on a nameless character. Tell me in the comments below how you go about naming the characters in your stories.

Write with Heart,

Lady Jabberwocky

The Brawn Man of Brooklyn (A Short Story)

They called it an extraordinary phenomenon.

A regular Hercules, Dr.Robinowitz on 3rd street claimed. Their son, Frank, was born with the capabilities of lifting objects 100 times heavier than his body weight. Super strength, the kids would say. His mother said Hail Mary in Italian ten times a day and cried, as if he son was some kind of devil. She constantly scolded him out of fear of his destructiveness. “Don’t touch that!” and “Don’t touch anything!” or “Don’t you dare touch the baby!”

He was a toddler. And his strength was something unexplainable, something that should remain a secret. If he pressed his hand into wall too hard, the wall would crack. Toys, if not handled gently, would be crushed or broken into pieces. Even the metal handle of his bicycle would be indented by his fingertips. He couldn’t control this, even as he got older, his power grew more dangerous. On the kindergarten playground, he pushed a kid out of the sandbox and cracked his rib. When he was seven years old, he threw a baseball and it landed three blocks away and through a car windshield.

He couldn’t touch anything. He wasn’t safe.

Frank would hold his small hands and peek into his sister Camilla’s crib when she was an infant. He was afraid of breaking her too.

His father owned a deli under the train tracks, Berardi’s Deli. Behind it was a dead patch of grass they called a backyard. And above it was a shoe box apartment they called a home. His father wore a filthy apron as he sat on the sidewalk’s edge, smelling like fennel seed and sweat. He smoked a cigarette and watched the kids in the street play. Frank, a small boy with small hands, sat beside him.

“Pops, why can’t I play with them?” The boy said “I promise I’ll be good. I won’t hit so hard. Honest.” He watched as the kids played stick ball.
His father gave him a side glance, taking a long drag and rubbing his stubbled chin. “Last time, you knocked a kid out.”

He looked down at his hands, discouraged “I-I didn’t mean to, Pops, he was….”

“Your mother with have a heart attack if she finds out you hurt someone else with your…” Trailing off, he stood up and stomped his cigarette out. The few remaining embers in the curb fizzled into the cement. “Don’t let nobody see you doing that. You hear me?” He warned. Frank’s eyes wandered to the window to the apartment above the deli, where his mother, with tired eyes, looked out.


“I don’t know if it’s a good idea, Camilla.” He said, looking down at his feet as they walked home from high school one crisp autumn afternoon. His black hair fell into a perfect greased curl.

“Sure it is,” His sister grinned, holding her biology textbook in her arms. “You love baseball.”

“Watchin’ baseball, sure. Not playin’ it,” He shrugged, still unsure “Pop’s will be mad. And Ma’s gonna be in hysterics if she finds out.”

She nudged him with her elbow. Her long wool skirt matched her mint green sweater. “Come on, don’t worry about that stuff, Frankie, you’d be amazing and you know it.”

Frank sighed, shoving his hands in his Letterman jacket. A chill blew between them. A police siren blared in the distance. The sun was setting, burning orange and gold.

“What if I hurt someone?”

“What if you only hit home runs?”

“I’m serious, Camilla,” He grabbed her arm lightly, as if he was holding a feather. They stood on the street corner across from their family’s deli. “I can’t control this. Someone’s gonna get hurt.”

“You can control it. You don’t have to be scared. You’re strong… super strong, but it doesn’t have to be a bad thing. You can do something good with it.” The sirens grew louder.

As they crossed the street, a car screeched around the corner, being tailed by red and blue flashing lights. A police chase. Frank was in the middle of the street, frozen for a moment. Camilla screamed, pulling at his hand. “Frankie, move!” He wouldn’t budge. He didn’t want to be scared anymore. The car was barreling towards him. He pushed his sister out of the way, and braced for impact, with an arched back and outstretched arms.

The car slammed into Frank, metal crushed against his chest, pushing him back a couple of feet. His sneakers skid against the pavement. The vehicle was stopped completely, with three bewildered robbers wearing ski masks sitting inside. The headline in the newspaper the next day dubbed him “The Brawn Man of Brooklyn”.

Writing The Hero and The Villain

As I am writing this post, I am watching my boyfriend, Michael, play a tabletop game called Warhammer. From my understanding, it’s like Dungeons and Dragons.
Watching this miniature war unfold, It’s got me thinking about heroes and villains and the importance of a good conflict. I have this pet peeve of protagonist being perfect and over powered and overcoming obstacles with little effort, very convenient. Then you’ve got villains who are evil for no reason other than the fact that they are completely rotten to the core. Literally cringing while writing these pet peeves right now.
Real characters, like actual human beings, aren’t so black and white.
Let’s start with protagonists. Here are some key things to keep in mind when constructing a hero.

  • Goal: What is the hero’s motivation? Why are they doing what they are doing? Having a purpose gives your character, and the over all plot, a direction. Also it throws fuel onto the conflict fire (if that makes sense).
  • Be Real: Being realistic means having flaws. Don’t make your character too cookie cutter perfect. Readers relate to imperfections. We want to read stories with characters who have positive and negative traits, who face obstacles with some struggle.
  • Growth: Over the course of a story arch, the character at the beginning of the must be different in some way to the same character at the end. Think of us, as people. We grow, we evolve, we change, and we learn things. Fictional characters must do the same.

There’s been a “tragic” dice roll.
I suppose that’s a good enough transition to writing antagonists.

 

  • Goal: Like your protagonist, the antagonist needs solid motivation. Have them act with purpose, not just because their evil. If your villain wants to destroy a city, it shouldn’t be because they just want to ruin someone’s day.
  • Be Real: Even an antagonist can have positive traits. No one can be completely bad. As I said before, things aren’t simply black and white. However, your antagonist should have an intimidating presence, to the hero and the audience. There are some villains we just love to hate.
  • Integrity: Put up a worthy adversary against your hero. The villain should put up a fight and carry out every threat made. When Darth Vader said he was going to blow up a planet, he blew up a planet. If at the end of the story, the antagonist loses and cries “Curses! Foiled again!” then just melts into a wimpy puddle, you may want to reevaluate things.

And here’s a question; does the hero have to win every battle?
Take note of some of your favorite hero and villain characters and really think about what makes them great.
Write with heart,
Lady Jabberwocky.

hemingway quote

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