About Writing

25 Reasons I Hate You!

No that isn’t you my readers and subscribers, I am forever grateful for your input here and will continue to be so. No, this is an amusing and informative polemic against poorly written or developing primary characters. See the link here.

I really like this list, it is an honest article from the position of a reader. Looking through, it is remarkable how often even the biggest selling books are guilty of making these mistakes, sometimes many in the same character. I need to be conscious of avoiding these in my own writing. So far I haven’t been great at creating heroes. Anti-heroes yes; villains, yes; incidental characters of dubious intent, yes. One of the issues I have come to realise is wrong in my own novel is that my primary character is a little too passive. I identified this before and I wanted it to be a deliberate fault that forces his hand later on.

Anyway, back to the list, I would like to add two more.

The Mary Sue. More of a feature of fan fiction, it has become a disturbing trend in commercial ficton, most in the YA genre aimed at females. You’re putting yourself in there. The character looks like the author, sounds like the author, is from a place similar to where the author is from and inevitably shares her qualities. She also manages to end up with number 8 in the above list. He doesn’t ever put a foot wrong and she does nothing but simper over him. They’re just too darn perfect together and right for each other.

The Blank Slate. The opposite of The Mary Sue and also a feature of YA fiction aimed at girls. This character has little personality like number 25 but rather than having no spark by design or accident, the writer has deliberately created a clone onto which the reader can impose themselves. Yes Bella Swan, I’m looking at you. With no physical description, a paper-thin personality and little in the way of defining characteristics Meyer wants the reader to superimpose themselves onto her.

Right then, over to you guys. Can you think of any more?


2 thoughts on “25 Reasons I Hate You!

  1. TM does post some great articles, eh?

    I’m afraid my main characters exhibit all of those qualities! I wonder if they are a bit of everything they shouldn’t be, that’s good? Somehow, I doubt it.


    What makes a terrible character? For me, a conceited person. I couldn’t finished The Name of the Wind by Rothfuss because the protag seemed conceited to me.

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