Content Editing and Character Development: Part 1

So, you’ve created a kick-butt hero who can slay the dragon while climbing a mountain with one hand tied behind his back while he rescues a kitten from dear old Mrs. Wilson’s tree. Your heroine’s a single mom who lands the biggest contract of her career, changes her flat tire, and still makes it home for dinner with the kids and a late-night group chat with fifteen of her closest friends. He’s rip-roaring with muscles while all of her curves are in the right places despite having two sets of twins under the age of 3. She makes home-made organic food. He’s a steak and potatoes kinda guy. All of the boxes are ticked. Perfect, right? So what’s next?

Everyone is gorgeous, professional, and good at everything they do. WRONG!

It’s natural to stereotype characters based on societal expectations. However, it’s the characters’ quirks and unexpected behaviors and circumstances that endear them to readers. Let Mark be a single father who lives paycheck-to-paycheck. You’re probably thinking he’s a widower or his selfish ex-wife who walked out on him and their kid will pop up later in the story wanting to reconcile, thereby creating conflict between him and the hot, loyal neighbor he’s been flirting with for 6 months but refuses to make his move because his five-year-old daughter Kenzie comes first.

And you’re probably thinking single-mom Sara and her adorable kids Tommie and Lizzy were abandoned by her wealthy husband so he could start a new life with his blond, barely-legal secretary who always wears 8-inch heels, right?

Although the combination of these characteristics can work, you should try to put a fresh spin on them; or better yet, think outside the box and completely change them up. Choose a rarely used occupation, or even invent one. Make Sara taller than Mark. Give the thirty-year-old Mark a receding hairline. Don’t misunderstand me, there’s nothing wrong with sticking to stereotypes when it comes to character traits, but it’s even better to sprinkle some gold dust on your stories and give your readers something new, perhaps even magical.


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