Continuing this week’s trend of tips for Camp NaNoWriMo, we’re exploring characters and how to craft them. In our last post, 9 Tips to Help You Develop a Believable Female Villain, we looked at how to create the perfect female villain. Today we’re exploring protagonists and supporting character tropes that have become a little stale:
The Brooding/Mysterious Hunk
He’s interesting, he’s troubled, and he’s so cool. He hates camaraderie and capitalist establishments. The appeal of this character makes sense, but mystery doesn’t always mean substance.
Remedy: Give him some character beyond interesting phrases and insights.
The Ideal “Girl Next Door”
Also referred to as the “Manic Pixie Dream Girl,” she’s the perfect protagonist who always has the best intentions in mind. She’s perfect and everyone can see it, but her. This type of protagonist is troublesome for readers because there’s no big struggle and she’s difficult to relate to.
Remedy: Give her relatable qualities and something that’s a challenge to overcome.
The Popular Girl
She’s beautiful, she’s mean, and she hates the protagonist — often for no reason. Usually described by other characters as vapid and shallow.
Remedy: This character needs: 1) a reason to hate the main character, and 2) to make sense in your story (she shouldn’t be the only obstacle your protagonist faces).
The Nerdy Sidekick
Glasses, books, etc. (insert other objects commonly found in bookstagram posts). The “nerd” is a booooring cliche that only takes momentum away from your story. Sure, they can be nerdy but they need other qualities or they run the risk of being flat.
Remedy: Make sure their existence means something. Maybe give them a moment of bravery or another opportunity to show that they are a fully developed character.
It’s okay for your character to have qualities that are similar with those from these tropes but they need to have more substance. These are overused character clichés because the characters usually aren’t defined anymore beyond these singular qualities.
Are you working on a new story for Camp or continuing a new one? How’s it going?