Making characters is something that I enjoy to do. I love making character designs and drawing them. I feel that when I make a character, I’m making a person. I feel that mindset is a necessity to make realistic and relatable characters. When I look at people, especially people who are less than pleasant, I’m hard- pressed to say that they are completely bad or evil. I feel that there is good in everyone, with very few exceptions. As such, when I write a character who is an antagonist, I like for them to not be inherently evil. I feel that this has helped me in making well- rounded villains in my stories. However, this can be a double-edged sword. I sometimes worry that when I write “good” characters, they have the capacity to be too soft or tender. This leads to a very flat, boring and un- relatable character. Having a villain that is too evil is jarring, but having a character that is flat and too soft can have the same effect. There are things that I have learned to combat this issue.
Naïve or Bland
In real life, you meet people who tend to have this overly positive personality and outlook. However, this normally due to that person being naïve. I am someone who tends to fall into this category as well. Naïve characters are nothing new, and they most certainly not a bad thing. However, the flat aspect of a character comes from the blandness of said character. No one is one note. It’s very unlikely to see someone who is in a state of perpetual positivity. There are plenty of well written positive or nice characters that are multi faceted.
As the title suggests, I worry about characters being too soft. This is normally seen in characters that aren’t active in their own decisions. This is seen in characters where tings simply happen to them. It is never their own actions that push the story and what reactions they have tends to lean toward the “nice guy”. This is also seen in the fact that the character’s problems are solved without them having to make a definitive choice.
Do they Change Over Time?
The most jarring thing to watch with a character is to see a lack of change or evolution in the character over the course of the story. This lack of change is indicative of the issues mentioned above. A bland character that isn’t obligated to make a definitive choice is highly unlikely to develop and change along with the story.
There is one character that I feel embodies doing all of the things that I mentioned above amazingly. That character is Aang from Avatar: The Last Airbender. This character embodied being naïve but interesting, kind but active and changing over the course of the plot. This character clearly lacked knowledge on the war and was very naïve on the dangers of the antagonist. Yet he was extremely interesting. His nativity played into his growth from what he experienced. In regards to being “too soft” he was a pacifist. This could have made it possible for him to be they type of inactive character that is indeed too soft. However, he was a decision maker and impacted the flow of the plot. He would make choices that, though leaned more toward a peaceful solution, still showed that he was active participant in his life. It can also be noted that though he was a pacifist, it didn’t mean that he was unwilling to both defend himself and his friends. Aang is one of many kind and even tender characters that are still dynamic, interesting and relatable.