Writing Excuses 10.8: Q&A on Character

It’s time for a Q&A on characters! The questions for this episode were provided by the attendees at the 2014 Out of Excuses Workshop and Retreat:

  • How do you have a character grow in power and/or expertise without needing to ridiculously overpower the villains?
  • How do you give a flawed character a growth arc without changing what originally made that character likable?
  • When you have a 1st person POV, how do you convey the emotional complexity of the non-POV characters?
  • How do you create an interesting an engaging story with a main character who is not the protagonist or hero of the story?
  • Is there an easy way to tell when the plot is driving the character instead of the other way around?
  • How do you write a character with egregiously offensive views without you, as the author, appearing to espouse or condone those views?
  • How do you write a character who has a belief that is different from your own?
  • What are some tips for writing a sympathetic antagonist?


Liner Note: The Tumbler to which Mary referred is Diversity Cross-Check.

Note: We offered to take questions on Story Structure during March, but we’ll be recording that episode two days from right now. Send us your story structure questions now! Do not delay! If you tweet them to @WritingExcuses they’ll pile up in a space where we can quickly find them.


Sketch out the events before and after your dead-drop scene from last week and three weeks ago.

Furies of Calderon, by Jim Butcher, narrated by Kate Reading.

5 thoughts on “Writing Excuses 10.8: Q&A on Character”

  1. What do you wish someone would have told you about story structure when you started writing stories that had more than one book?

    What bad habits in story structure should we be watching out for?

  2. I don’t have twitter, so I hope you guys get to see this before you record. My questions is : How many chapters do you need to dedicate to secondary characters or do you need to dedicate chapters to them and instead is it possible to have them grow only in relation to one or more of the of the main characters?



  3. Oops. Missed the question deadline. I was going through the archives and hit the Lou Anders Hollywood Formula podcast in season 6. In those comments, Lou mentioned that one can do a dual-protagonist structure where each protagonist is the relationship character to the other. This is, in fact, what I’m doing with my current project. Although I certainly would not have described it as Hollywood before hearing that ‘cast, now I’m totally interested in seeing how that formula can benefit my story.

    So my question was, what does that look like? How can each protagonist be the relationship character to each other? And do they need to share one antagonist?

Comments are closed.