Thursday, September 1, 2011

Bad Attributes by Guest Poster Aubrie Dionne

I'd like to welcome author of Paradise 21, Aubrie Dionne to the blog.

She's stopped by to talk a little about characters and some of their bad attributes. Before I hand the floor over, here's a little about our guest.

Aubrie is an author and flutist in New England. Her stories have appeared in Mindflights, Niteblade, Silver Blade, A Fly in Amber, and several print anthologies including Skulls and Crossbones by Minddancer Press, Rise of the Necromancers, by Pill Hill Press, Nightbird Singing in the Dead of Night by Nightbird Publishing, Dragontales and Mertales by Wyvern Publications, A Yuletide Wish by Nightwolf Publications, and Aurora Rising by Aurora Wolf Publications. Her epic fantasy is published with Wyvern Publications, and several of her ebooks are published with Lyrical Press and Gypsy Shadow Publishing. When she’s not writing, she plays in orchestras and teaches flute at Plymouth State University and a community music school.

Please welcome, Aubrie Dionne (applause)

Bad Attributes for Heroines and Heroes

I thought for fun today, I’d make up some of the worst attributes you could ever give your heroine or hero. I try to stay away from these character traits at all costs, and make sure my characters are one hundred percent the opposite!

1. Boring- Characters have to have a personality. They have to have their own motivations, and things they like and dislike. They have to yearn, to fear, to love. They have to have a past that’s shaped who they are today. They can’t be one dimensional line shouters based on common archetypes that only move the plot forward.

2. Inactive- Characters have to do something. They have to be “make it happen” type people. They can’t wait around and let life breeze by. Or at least, not for the whole book! They have to make conscious decisions, to get up off their feet and change their world in some way.

3. Mean- I’d leave this trait for the bad guys. Your main character has to be likeable. They can’t go around picking on those weaker than them, or talking behind their friend’s backs and calling people names. It just doesn’t work. Unless, they start this way and change very fast, before you lose your reader for good!

4. Ineffectual- Main heroes and heroines have to make a difference. Their actions have to have consequences. They have to strive to better their situation, to save the one they love, or make the world a better place. They can’t continue to fail to the very end in everything they do. What a downer that would be, heh?

5. Self loathing- Too much whininess can drive a reader crazy. Sure, your characters have to have modesty and fear. They have to question their actions at times, and experience remorse and regret. But not on every page. A main character has to develop confidence, and they have to begin to believe in themselves.

6. Arrogance- There’s a fine line between a confident hero/heroine, and an arrogant one. Sure, they can believe in themselves and their cause, but they also have to have faults. They have to be human, and they have to wrestle with their own flaws. Or else, they have nothing to overcome. They can’t have an arc, they can’t develop.

7. Whishy washy/Ambivalent- Characters can’t keep going back and forth and changing their minds. They have to act definitively. They have to make choices and either stand by them, or regret them later on. You have to explain why they change their minds (if they do) and have a good reason for it. Or else, why fight for something you don’t care strongly about?

What do you think some bad character traits are?


Michael Offutt, Phantom Reader said...

Nice comprehensive list of the "ick" factors that drive readers away from certain personalities in books.

Aubrie said...

Thanks for having me on your blog, (again!), Cher!

Anonymous said...


Thanks for commenting. Lists are always good. :)

Anonymous said...


Always a pleasure.

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