Tag Archives: character

Character Study: Zuko

I’ve started watching Avatar: The Last Airbender again. It’s one of my favourite TV series of all time. I think this is watch through number six. I have long thought that Zuko’s arc through the three seasons of the show is one of the best arcs ever written, and one of the (many) things that makes the series so great.

If you’ve not seen the series, I heartily recommend it. This article is of course going to contain huge spoilers, so if you don’t want the series spoiled, stop reading now.


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My NaNoWriMo: the protagonist

In the run-up to NaNoWriMo I’m exploring the world and characters I’ll be writing about. This time it’s my protagonist.

Fiarra is the daughter of convicts; her father returned “back home” across the sea after completing his sentence – right before it was decided that the island was too profitable to risk harming those profits by bringing convicts back. She was brought up on the island in an odd social position – neither convict nor quite free, she had more rights than her mother but fewer than the servants and soldiers who had come to the island to work for the governor. Her mother died in the plague, and with the cemetery full she buried her just inside the wall encircling the island’s main settlement.

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The Passive Protagonist

Be active, we are told as writers; don’t say “he was walking”, say, “he walked”. Active language is more engaging, and often better paced. It enables stronger prose. It lifts your writing. By contrast, passive language slows the pace and saps excitement by using two words when one will do or placing the character in the position of the object, the thing to whom actions are done. Any writer who’s spent much time on the internet or reading writing advice books knows that (and in fact my friend Brian recently posted on this subject).

On the micro level – on the level of individual sentences and phrases – this advice is followed. On the macro level – with characters over the course of a novel – often it is not.

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Review: The Mythic Guide to Characters by Antonio del Drago

The Mythic Guide to Characters is a book which looks at character creation with a different perspective to a lot of writing advice. It looks at various different ways that personality types have been categorised in the context of real people, and examines how this can be applied to fictional characters. In each case, examples from well-known fictional creations, including Lord of the Rings and Harry Potter, are used to illustrate how personality types can be applied to fictional characters.

Different facets of character design are examined, from the most internal to the way characters approach challenges and interact with others. The book is well structured and well paced, with the ideas presented logically and fully explained using clear, concise language.

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The Dreaded Mary Sue

The topic of the Mary Sue comes up occasionally in writing forums. Everyone agrees: you don’t want your character to be a Mary Sue. She’s the worst of the worst, beloved only by the author and despised by the reader. She is the undeniable sign of the bad writer, the demoness, and once part of a story she cannot be expunged; the whole story is doomed to the deepest pit of hell.

But what is a Mary Sue? Now there’s a question.

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On Freewriting and pulling a story together

I have only recently learned of the freewriting technique, from an article called Freewriting: Writing for Crappy Writers. I decided to try it out. In the last few months, I have not been actively working on a project (except Ailith’s Gift, but that’s only ~3000 words so doesn’t count). I decided to give freewriting a go, see if I could shake out the cobwebs and get my brain moving again.

I set myself a topic: “a settlement”, and I feel it went quite well. A few typos, a spelling error or two, some awkward grammar and quite a lot of rambling nonsense as I tried to keep my fingers moving even though I had nothing to say. But it came out alright. I created a settlement, a small town with a bridge, on the main road between a city and a place of pilgrimage, the main economy of which is to sell objects to pilgrims which they can dedicate to the sacred shrine the other side of the river.

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