"Does My Character Work Okay?" - How To Tell For Yourself!


The matter of whether our characters are believable and likeable is possibly one of the biggest anxieties we have as writers. After all, so much hinges on the audience finding them interesting enough to want to know what happens to them next. What we can and should do to ensure that our characters work as intended isn't always clear to us. This article is intended to help you figure it out for yourself with eleven simple questions.

This article is also intended to serve as a replacement for the Universal Mary Sue Test. Although the test will stay up in case you want to view it for any reason, it is now considered a finished (if imperfect) product and a relic of the past. Although many writers have found such tests to be useful, they have always been fraught with problems - as is the very term "Mary Sue" itself.

So why is the concept of a Mary Sue so unhelpful? What can you do instead? Read on and find out!

Last updated: May 4, 2021

Table of Contents



Why we should move on from using the term "Mary Sue."

Yes, badly-constructed and badly-written characters are a thing. Many new writers don't realize that what's fun for them to write isn't always fun for someone else to read. This often results in stories featuring over-idealized protagonists who fall into the center of things and get everything they want way too easily. Back in the early days of the Star Trek fandom, these stories were so numerous that a writer named Paula Smith wrote a single-page story titled A Trekkie's Tale to poke fun at them. The protagonist's name was Mary Sue, and her name became a label for any character perceived as being like this.

In the 90s and 2000s, writers began making Mary Sue tests to help writers (mainly fanfiction writers) gauge whether their characters were Mary Sues. These test were (at least usually) made in good faith to help new writers improve the quality of their work, but they weren't perfect. The message that many writers took from them is that certain character traits and plot elements are always bad no matter what, when the reality is that whether something is "bad" or not depends heavily on context and framing. Additionally, the term "Mary Sue" became a snarl word to describe almost any character, especially female, that somebody just didn't like for some reason. Both of these are still major problems today.

So what we need to do is stop thinking in terms of whether a character is a "Mary Sue" or not. Instead, we should ask ourselves whether the character is someone we're actually interested in, whether everything about and around the character makes sense in context, and whether it's all done in a tasteful and entertaining way. This article is intended to help you do that.


1. Is this what resonates with your target audience right now? Are they interested in this kind of character?

People's tastes and preferences shift over time, so it's important to take a look at what they are and aren't into right now. For example, traits that might have made for an iconic "strong female character" fifteen years ago might be so normalized by now that you'll be seen as positively regressive if that's all you go with. Or people might prefer a different kind of strong these days. People might have also realized that there are certain flaws with one particular model of a "strong" female character - perhaps it's over-idealized or ignores a few important realities in some way.

A character who was seen as a heartthrob in the 2000s might be seen as laughably pathetic now, while someone who was seen as laughably pathetic back then might be considered very attractive today. A character considered admirable or sympathetic in the 1990's might be seen as obnoxious, boorish, or even entitled now. On the other hand, a trait seen as ridiculous or obnoxious a few years might be seen as relatable and sympathetic. So, you've got to regularly read your target audience and to keep in mind that a character formula or style that worked out for you before is not going to work out for you forever.

So how can you read your target audience? It's simple. Pay attention to them, whether their members are on Twitter, in Discord servers you visit, message boards you frequent, etc. Notice what they ask for, whether they say they wish there were more characters who had certain traits or that it would be awesome if a well-known character had certain traits. Take a look at who they're drawing or praising. Pay attention to which characters they say they relate to. Take down notes. Likewise, take note of which traits and characteristics they don't like, both in fictional and real people. For example, if you see people say that they hate it when their dates do certain things, you can assume they probably won't enjoy a story where these behaviors are framed as ideal traits in a love interest.

Obviously, you don't want to outright copy or clone the specific characters they like. Instead, take note of the various personality traits, backstory elements, life situations, etc. that resonate with them right now, and draw from them to build up your own original protagonists with while adding your own personal touch. As for the traits they find obnoxious and bothersome, you can potentially use them as character flaws for your protagonists, or even core traits for your antagonists.

Finally, it's perfectly valid to decide that you are your target audience, and do literally whatever the heck you want. When you are your own target audience, there are no rules aside from do whatever you darn well please.


2. Does everything about your character feel organic and natural within the context of the setting?

It's definitely preferable for your character's traits and personal details to make sense within the context of the setting. If something comes off as forced, contrived, or just downright impossible, it can undermine the integrity of its worldbuilding and/or feel like you're playing favorites with your character. This is why naming a medieval English princess "Sakura Ravynne" in what's supposed to be historical fiction is a problem. No human being would have been given a name like that in the real Middle Ages, and it comes off like you're trying too hard to make your protagonist seem special. This is also why giving your characters way more skills than they actually have time to exercise and develop can be a problem. It can be extremely jarring to see a character master something in two weeks that it takes the rest of us years to learn, and it can even come off as disrespectful to those who worked long and hard to learn it in real life.

You have similar problems when the author gives the character tastes and hobbies based solely on what they find personally appealing, rather than what would likely be available and interesting to the character. It undermines the integrity of the worldbuilding by showing that none of it really matters because it can and will be ignored at the drop of a hat.

Sometimes you can create a reasonable in-universe explanation for seemingly off-key elements; EG, maybe characters gain skills fast through magic or nanites, or something. But even, your explanation still needs to fit within the larger narrative framework. Maybe your main character gained skills through magic - which means that magic is a thing that exists, and that it's extremely unlikely they're the only one using it. If you don't account for the implications your explanations create, you run into the problem of undermining the worldbuilding and making it look like you're playing favorites.

And it is very important to make sure your explanations fit your overall story. Some explanations just end up being too convoluted or unlikely to really feel natural. For example, the writer who really wants a character named Sakura Ravynne in their "historical" novel might claim, "Well, her parents met some wandering traveler named Sakura and they decided to name their baby after her." Problem is, this doesn't account for the fact that medieval English people were a highly xenophobic bunch.

This overall problem is also why so many fandom OCs don't really work for a lot of people. Something about them just doesn't mesh with the established lore or worldbuilding, or the explanation feels really contrived, or involves additional worldbuilding that just doesn't mesh with the setting's tone.

And on the topic of fandom OCs, one other reason they often feel contrived is that they come off as unnaturally or improbably similar to a canon character. Real people always have many substantial differences from each other, even when they're closely related or grow up in the same environment. Not to mention, children (especially adolescents) tend to resent it when others perceive them as being "just like" a parent or a sibling, and they will often deliberately try to something to set themselves apart from their relatives, such as adopting different hobbies, fashion styles, or even career choices. And sometimes, certain traits or backstory elements are set up as so rare or unlikely that it doesn't feel natural for someone else to just drop by with them.

So you should spend some time thinking about how things are established to work in this setting. If you're designing your own universe or creating an AU world, you can decide it for yourself, but you do need to stay consistent with whatever you decide later on. If the character is made for a real world setting or for someone else's world, then you want to try and make sure you understand how that world works, and make your character fit into it in a way that feels organic and natural. Any additional worldbuilding you do in order to justify your character also needs to make sense in the context of the setting. You also need to ask yourself how people really work, and take into accountthings like their environments, age groups, etc.


3. Is your character humanized enough to feel like a real person?

When a character has a relatively bland for flat personality, or lacks the same kind of humanizing quirks and moments that make other characters interesting and endearing, any time the story spends focusing on them can feel like wasted potential. Whether it's because people know that this character could and should have been so much more, or because they really wish the narrative would pay more attention to a character they like more, it's a pretty frustrating experience all around.

Sometimes it seems like the writers are afraid of their characters looking undignified, shallow, or silly, as if they're worried that they have to be "respectable" at all times or else the audience won't like them. Sometimes it seems like they just got lazy and expected us to like these characters simply because they exist and do things that we, the audience, should presumably want to do. Whatever the reason, they often end up being rather bland compared to the rest of the cast.

If your character is the least-humanized one in the story, then they're most likely the least-interesting one in the story. This isn't a bad thing if you intend for your character to be boring, but if you're reading this page I'm assuming that's probably not the case here.

One thing I've noticed is that the people who hate on characters for failing to look or act "respectable" all the time are pretty much always elitist snobs and fun-hating dillweeds. If your work alienates people like this, that's the opposite of a problem.

So if your character is relatively bland, ask yourself: What would happen if they had the comic relief's sense of humor? What if they had the quirky uncle's eccentric hobby? What if they nibbled paper when anxious, or really really cared a lot about sea turtles? Does this character suddenly feel more vibrant and real? If so, it's time for a character makeover!

Take some time to stop and think about the traits and characteristics that made both real people and fictional characters interesting and memorable. Think about the people you had crushes on, or the ones that you really wished were your best friends. Think about the ones who made life feel better and brighter. Think about the ones whose quirks and habits you could never forget. Think about how complex they actually were - think about all the emotions they had, both positive and negative, and how they expressed them. Now think about how they were flawed or annoying sometimes. Try to add some of this stuff to your own character, per what makes sense for your character's age, social environment, upbringing, etc., and what jives best with your plot and the overall personality you're trying to build.

When you write your story, make sure all of this stuff you've chosen is visible for people to see. Too many authors make the mistake of ascribing all these great traits to their characters, but never really let them appear in the story. If you're not sure how you can get it all out there, you can take a look at Dropping In Characterization Without Dragging The Story for ideas.

Another way to humanize your character is to show the character doing human things. This involves things like waking up with bedhead, fidgeting in a waiting room while waiting on an appointment, geeking out over something, and things like that. For more ideas, take a look at Simple Ways To Fill Out & Humanize Your Character.


4. Do you avoid using your character's traits in an ostentatious or shallow way?

Even if a trait technically makes sense in context, it can still feel jarring or obnoxious if the author plays it up as more important or remarkable than it really is. Let's take color-changing eyes, for example. People might be surprised and curious at first, but the novelty is going to wear off sooner or later. Acting like this is something that should hold people's attention indefinitely, especially in a setting where weird and unexpected things are the norm, can feel like a really superficial way of trying to make your character seem attractive or interesting.

A character's skills can also be used in a shallow and ostentatious way when the author frames them as a reason to like or admire the character as a person. Just because somebody can perform a lot of work doesn't mean they'd be fun to talk to, take on a road trip, and whatnot. Skillful people can be boring, condescending, and even abusive, and just because they're good at doing things doesn't excuse any harm they perpetrate.

Another example of this is when an author gives a character a horrifically traumatic backstory just to shock the audience or make them feel like they have to pay attention and care about them. A traumatic backstory can also be used in a shallow way by framing it as a reason the character can't be held accountable for acting like a bully in the present, because it demeans and dismisses the harm and suffering they're inflicting on their victims. Survivors absolutely do deserve help and compassion no matter what, but everyone's problems matter and no one has to put up with someone who refuses to take responsibility for their behavior.

So try and be careful you're not using your character's traits in a way that superficial or shallow, and avoid adding any traits with shallow or superficial purposes in mind. This isn't to say you can't have characters with rainbow hair, but rather that you need to remember that rainbow hair is actually a neutral trait and not a reason to admire or be interested in this character as a person. For that, you should focus on your character's personality, ideals, sympathetic and relatable qualities, etc.


5. Is your character given a balanced set of skills and weaknesses? Is your character be genuinely challenged and thrown for a loop by the problems that arise in the story, while still able to do something to move the plot forward?

When a character can easily solve every problem and win every fight with little to no effort, you end up with a narrative that feels predictable and monotonous. To keep people curious, you need uncertainty. Plus, watching narratives where overpowered/overskilled characters easily solve problems and pat themselves on the back and/or wallow in the praise of the masses feels like you're getting smacked in the brainpan by the author's ego. It's honestly pretty gross.

This is why it's important to give a character a set of skills that make sense within the context of the story, and to not allow the character to effortlessly overcome every challenge. It's okay to make them extraordinarily skillful or powerful so long as they still face meaningful challenges, whether it's because they're just that big or simply outside of their own experience.

As you design your character, think about where they might have limitations. In the real world, no single person can be good at everything because there are only so many hours in a day to learn and practice, plus our own mental and physical limitations will get in the way somewhere. These limitations may not apply to your character for one reason or another, but it's important to come up with something to make sure your character can still be challenged.

Basically, you should generally aim to make a character who can move the plot forward and make interesting things happen, but also won't be able to do everything all the time and will find genuine challenge in whatever conflict is going on. It also usually helps to make sure your character is subject to a reasonable number of personal limitations (which is usually enough to make the character feel real and/or relatable).

If you want to have a character who is unskilled or underpowered compared to everyone else, you want to make sure there's more to them than getting in trouble and being put in danger all the time. You don't necessarily need to make them a Batman-level badass, but the character needs to have something going on. (One example of this is Stu from What We Do In The Shadows. He introduces the vampires to the Internet, and hilarity ensues.)


6. Does your character gain or accomplish things in a way that makes sense and feels natural in context?

Whatever your character gains and does, it should happen in a way that makes sense within the context of the story. One way this often goes wrong is with the protagonists' friends and lovers. You might have a main character who constantly dismisses their friends' pain and violates their boundaries, yet they never complain or distance themselves from the main character because they feel belittled and unsafe. You might have a romance story where the love interest is genuinely willing to give up all of their prior ambitions and dreams for the sake of the main character, and this never causes them any grief or distress.

Sometimes, the story grants the main character victory way too easily. Others might be portrayed as far less competent than their position or level of experience suggests they should be, or the character might be extremely competent despite a lack of education, practice, and experience. The author might claim that the character is some sort of prodigy; however, the problem here is that prodigy doesn't really exist.

Sometimes characters will be granted a huge amount of trust that doesn't really make sense in context. For example, the king might grant the main character a sword with the power to level armies, even though the main character is a peasant they've only met just five minutes ago. Or someone might be willing to share their most intimate secrets five minutes after knowing them for ten minutes. I'm not saying that this kind of thing could absolutely never work, but it needs to be thought through.

Sometimes they're given ridiculously extravagant gifts and freebies. For example, the local tailor might give the main character a lavish wardrobe for free, even though each outfit would be incredibly expensive to produce. Again, I'm not saying that there are no circumstances in which extravagant gifts or freebies make sense, but you need to think it through. And let's be real, when somebody hands out expensive gifts in the real world, they're usually doing it for the publicity, for a tax write-off, or to love bomb/groom a victim.

Sometimes characters are given jobs despite being ludicrously unqualified for them (EG, doesn't have the actual necessary skills, is more of a liability than an asset, doesn't meet certain legal requirements etc.) in a context where someone should care enough to make sure that doesn't happen.

This is why it's important to frequently put yourself into other characters' shoes and look at everything through their perspectives. Consider everything they've had to deal with in the past and what they'd have learned from those experiences, and consider everything they have to deal with right now and where they might want to be cautious. Consider what their own goals and concerns are, and whether giving something to your character actually dovetails with that.

It's also vital to understand how much study and practice goes into becoming good at something, let alone mastering it. A genius who's always slacking off is going to fall behind an average person who actually puts in regular effort.

If you're writing a fanfiction, it's also important to remember that most people will be using what they observed in the original story as a yardstick to gauge how hard/easy, common/rare, etc. something is. If the story frames what the canon characters did or got as a big deal and/or they only see it happen once, they'll usually assume it's difficult or rare. If it's not framed as a big deal, or if they see it happen more than once, they'll be more likely to assume it's relatively easy or common. Thus, having your own character imitate a canon character in something perceived as difficult or rare can come off as contrived if you're not careful, which is why it's usually advisable to go with something different for your character.

And finally, don't make everyone else helpless or inept when they really shouldn't be. Give them something meaningful to contribute when it makes sense for them to do something, in a way that fits with their own skillsets and personalities. This is especially important if everyone is supposed to be on a team or working together somehow - no one character should be hogging the spotlight and glory.


7. Are other sympathetic characters allowed to have wants, needs, feelings, and opinions that matter, even when they conflict with what this character wants, needs, feels, and thinks?

Generally speaking, your character shouldn't always be the most important, deserving, or justified person in the room. In real life, everyone has needs and wants that matter, and there's nothing wrong with having different thoughts and opinions unless those thoughts and opinions call somebody's civil rights and personhood into question.

It's one thing to intentionally write a main character who happens to be an awful, selfish person, but when the very narrative acts like the character is perfectly justified in consistently treating everyone else's wants, needs, feelings, and opinions as less important or valid than their own (or worse, act like they don't matter at all), it can be easy to resent them for being so self-centered and treating everyone else so disrespectfully.

You can avoid this by aiming to make everyone who isn't supposed to be an irredeemable villain sympathetic and deserving in their own way. Give them dreams and ambitions that matter. Give them all valid viewpoints, even if they contradict and conflict with each other. Take some time to put yourself into their shoes, look at the world through their perspectives, and immerse yourself in their thoughts and feelings. In the story, let their ideas and desires sometimes take precedence over your character's own without it being framed as a bad thing. Let your character have to make compromises sometimes, and don't frame your character as a selfless martyr or shining exemplar for it. Additionally, if your character is genuinely at fault for harming someone, then it should be framed that way.

Also, keep in mind that nobody is morally required to let the main character hurt them or push them around. You might also ask yourself how you'd feel if some random person treated you or people you care about the way your protagonist treats others. If you'd be upset, then the characters in your story are fully justified in getting upset, and it's quite possible that your character is a lot less sympathetic than you intended.


8. Are others allowed to dislike and disagree with your character without being framed as ignorant, incompetent, or villainous?

In real life, nobody's right all the time - and that includes extremely competent and skillful people. People can also dislike each other simply because they have incompatible personalities, rather than any specific moral failing on either of their parts.

If every supposedly good, competent, and smart character always likes and agrees with your character, while those who don't are constantly shown to be ignorant, inept, or morally bankrupt, the whole setup feels contrived and unnatural. Additionally, real people who always decide whether people are good or bad based on whether they agree with them, personally, are always incredibly arrogant and usually pretty evil themselves, so if you have this kind of attitude pouring out of your story it can be pretty gross.

What you can do is spend some time thinking of some legitimate reasons for your protagonists to dislike and disagree with each other. It could be as heavy and complicated as their fundamental philosophies on life and ethics, or it could be as simple and trivial as their tastes in music or movies. Let their disagreements come out in the story without it reflecting badly on the other characters. Even better, your character could even turn out to be in the wrong now and then, whether because your character's opinion is objectively incorrect or because your character was kind of a jackass over the whole thing.

This isn't to say that your character can't ever be right in conflicts and disagreements, of course. Your character totally can. It just shouldn't always be the case, and the simple act of disliking or disagreeing with your character should not be used to frame someone as morally, professionally, or intellectually deficient in some way.


9. Do you avoid pitting your character against contrived antagonists?

Your antagonists should make just as much sense as your protagonists. They should have reasonably coherent motives similar to those you might find in real people, and their traits, actions, and accomplishments should make sense in light of the kind of people they're supposed to be. All of the stuff in the second and fifth sections apply to antagonists just as much as protagonists.

When antagonists are contrived, it's usually in different ways from protagonists. For example, an antagonist might be depicted as a successful leader of a powerful organization despite showing no real skill at leadership or strategy at all. (Yelling and beating people into submission doesn't count - even if they can bully people into following orders, bad plans are still bad plans.)

They might have gone from being relatively good people to full-blown villains over one incident of humiliation or disappointment. In reality, one bad incident doesn't turn a good person into a villain overnight. Some people might claim that one bad incident set them off, but they're most likely just using it as an excuse to act on impulses they already had.

Some antagonists obsess over the protagonists when they should honestly have other priorities. For example, an antagonist who's supposed to be a competent leader would have to spend time actually focusing on their job, not just fretting over all the revenge they're not getting.

Sometimes, it's assumed that antagonists have access to endless resources, such as an effectively infinite number of spies to monitor the protagonists. I'm not saying there are no situations in which this could be justified, but it does need to be thought out. Not to mention, limiting your villain's resources can force them to take some pretty desperate measures, which can make for some fun and interesting stories.

All too often, antagonists' methods don't actually line up with their motives. This happens when the writer decides to have the villain take a specific action, then invents a motive for without examining whether it really lines up with the method. For example, the writer might decide to have the villain steal a diamond necklace from a museum, then justify it by having the villain need the diamonds for a new invention. Then they fail to ask themselves whether this would actually be a good way to get diamonds, or whether they should maybe consider a different route.

Antagonists don't always need to take the most logical or reasonable route, but it's always a good idea to put yourself in their shoes and ask yourself if this choice of action actually makes all that much sense from their own point of view, or whether they'd more likely find an alternate route. And please do not try to justify nonsensical actions by claiming your antagonist is mentally ill, as that's not how mental illness works.

Sometimes fanfiction writers will project antagonistic behaviors onto canon characters they personally don't like, whether or not these behaviors are consistent with established characterization. Sometimes they'll fixate on character traits they perceive as evil and exaggerate them so much that their versions of these characters will bear little, if any resemblance to the originals. It's important to remember that even if you don't like a character, you should still try to stay true to the character's original personality. You can reframe the character's behaviors or attitudes if you like, but it's still important that you don't erase the complexity and nuance of the character's actual personality.


10. Do you avoid trying to prove your character's skill or value through competition or comparison against others?

Some authors try to make their characters look better by comparing them against somebody else, whether a real person or another character. This can take the form of having somebody say "she's even smarter than Albert Einstein!" or by having the character easily beat somebody else who's been established as smart, strong, or skilled. The thing is, people who think they can't prove themselves without putting themselves above someone else are usually very unpleasant people, and often very toxic. Because of this, it's only natural to feel put off when we see this kind of attitude seeping out of the story.

There are plenty of other ways to establish that your character is good at things. You can just show your character accomplishing something noteworthy and let the act speak for itself. If you really want to have your character beat someone else, don't frame it as a reason that people should like or admire your character as a person or as a reason to think less of the character who got beaten. And don't have your character act patronizing or smug over it unless you're trying to show that your character is arrogant or a "sore winner," IE, someone who can't win gracefully and has to gloat and rub it in everyone's faces. (About the only time it's really appropriate to get smug over a victory is when you've beaten someone who has genuinely been an awful person, EG, an actual bully. And even then, there's such a thing as going too far.)


11. Do you have healthy and appropriate emotional boundaries between yourself and your character?

Getting too emotionally entangled with your character is unhealthy for you and bad for your story. Inappropriate emotional entanglement happens when we idealize or identify ourselves with our characters too much. We take it personally when people don't like them, and we often start writing the narrative to revolve around them. This is why it's recommended that you don't name your character after yourself (or vice versa), or put too much of your character into yourself, and so on. Avoiding these things helps you maintain these important boundaries.

Although many people insist that you should never, ever write a self-insert, in reality it can be done in a way that doesn't harm the story. But it requires a lot of skill that new writers often don't have. Self-inserts need to be written from a place of humility and self-awareness, and plenty of compassion toward the other characters. Nobody should even think about seriously writing a self-insert until they've developed the ability to put themselves into everyone else's shoes, and are able to appreciate and value their needs and perspectives. Nor should anyone consider writing a self-insert if they are easily distressed by personal criticism, because any criticism of the main character's actions will hurt that much more.

It's important to always remember that the primary purpose of your character is to be part of a story meant to entertain and/or convey a message to others, and should not be idealized or favored to the point your story can no longer do this effectively. You should examine how you feel about your character and determine if you've developed feelings that might create a conflict of interest, so to speak, that might inappropriately influence how you write the character and the story. Remember, not only is this necessary for being able to write a good story, but it's also necessary for maintaining your own emotional health.


What to do if you're still stuck.

Sometimes it's not always clear on what you should do to fix any potential issues you might have - let alone what might be an issue you need to fix. Here's what you can do:

Think. Ask yourself questions like, "Is this how things really work? Do I know of anyone who ever acted like this, and if so, under what conditions and in which contexts?" (For an example of how context is important, the way teenagers will usually approach and handle relationships isn't the same as how thirty-somethings will usually approach and handle relationship.) You probably have a lot more information stored in your mind than you realize, so go through it and see what you can find in there.

Observe. Pay more attention to people and events, whether online or offline. Notice how different people behave and under which exact circumstances they behave this way. Notice how certain environmental factors, hardships (or lack of hardships) cultural anxieties, etc. tend to impact what people do and how they think. Notice how different types of people will usually respond in different ways.

Study. Find materials that cover the real life counterparts of the people and scenarios you're trying to write. (Try to find sources that remain fairly neutral on them, rather than try to outright romanticize or demonize them. If you can't, remain conscious of the fact that someone is framing it a certain way to try and shape your perceptions.) Additionally, many questions that you may have are probably covered in one or more articles on this site, and the link section below will direct you to some that address a few common issues.

Practice. The ability to empathize and put yourself into other people's shoes is something you can develop with practice, even if you're bad at it right now. You can read How To Exercise & Strengthen Your Empathy for more information. Likewise, you can learn how to exercise and strengthen your self-awareness over at How To Increase Your Self-Awareness & Grow As A Person.


In summary!


Also take a look at:

Reasons Your Character Might Be Boring
How To Avoid Making Your Story And Characters Feel Contrived
How Good Story & Character Ideas Can Go Bad
Setting Rules & Limitations In Your World: Why & How You Need To Do This
Telling Story Canon From Personal Bias, Erroneous Memories, & Fanwank
Canon Character Analysis Questions
Framing: What It Is And How To Use It

Character Infatuation & Over-Identification - Do You Have These Problems?
"Is This A Good Idea For My Story/Setting/Character?" - How To Answer This For Yourself!
"Help! I Need Ideas For My Story/Setting/Character!" - How To Get Ideas For Yourself!
Simple Tips To Put Yourself In The Shoes Of Characters Who Aren't You
How To Write & Roleplay Characters Who Are Different From You (Or, How To Stop Writing Self-Inserts!)
The Problem With Making The Universe Revolve Around The Main Characters
Protagonist-Centered Morality: What It Is, And How You Can Avoid It
How To Build Up A Believable Romance

Things About Skills, Talents, & Knowledge Writers Need To Know
On Writing & Roleplaying Older Characters
On Writing & Roleplaying Smart Characters
A Few Things Writers Need To Know About Maturity & Mental Development
On Giving Your Characters Flaws & Weaknesses

Villain Motives Made Easy
How To Create And Write An Arch-Nemesis
What Writers Need To Know About Predatory People



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