7 Tips for Writing "Good" Anti-Heroes

Here are seven tips for writing good anti-heroes:

7 Tips for Writing Anti-Heroes

  • Pay attention to the character's contradictions

Making your anti-heroine character multidimensional is the first step in this process. Provide her with an external conflict to complement her internal conflicts. Give her distinct characteristics, a distinct voice, and a very unique moral code.

Perhaps it develops a selfish and stubborn person while being charitable and understanding. She must demonstrate who she is through her actions, making decisions that advance the plot while revealing aspects of her personality.

  • Don't overdo the "difficult" qualities

"Difficult" is intriguing but can also be a big shot in the foot.

Anti-heroes can do terrible things, but they must be likable enough for viewers to want to accompany them on their journey. So we must counteract it with more positive characteristics to keep us on their side.

Consider Fleabag: she is a person who judges others while being amusing and critical of herself. Everyone has been self-critical, so we have a possible point of identification. What part of us, even unconsciously, will identify with your character?

  • Create an irresistible goal

If we were part of the Roy family, we would almost certainly act heinously to protect our thriving power and heritage at all costs.

This has a lot to do with the characters' shared goal: something that, for the most part, we, as real people, could also wish for. Bet on that goal's universal identification (money, acceptance, vengeance, unconditional love), but also on consistency with the character you created. Is that even a goal for someone like her?

  • Know the character's universe well

You already have an idea of how that person would look and act. What's up? How will she accomplish her objectives? Who will she be dealing with? As with any story, it is critical to use universe research to enrich your reactions and circumstances.

Jack Sparrow lives in a very different universe than Selina Meyer, but both are anti-heroes with eccentric personalities. This wealth of specificity will pique the public's interest in your character.

  • Bet on surprise

Surprise is a fantastic element in any story. However, we want this character to surprise us with her creative abilities or out-of-the-box ideas when it comes to antiheroes.

This fosters loyalty and provides the audience with a sense of "security" that the character will always be able to get out of the situation or else surprise us with a reaction that differs from those we have already seen - precisely because the character is complex. She always seems to be one (or several) steps ahead of us. That is why tip number one is so crucial!

  • Don't make easy decisions

This is true for any type of protagonist, but it is especially effective in anti-heroism. We want to identify with the character's flaws and dramas without turning them into a Disney film. Kill the protagonist's best friend and drag her to the bottom of the well if you think it's necessary! This is also a good way to distinguish what kind of reaction you, as a person, believe is "correct" and what you do not, within the context of the theme.

For example, the character suffers a significant loss due to Character X's actions. So far, so good - it makes sense to us. But maybe she'll go even further and murder the entire family of Character X, the one who killed her friend—even if it means killing a popular character or herself.

This "extra" step distinguishes her as an anti-hero because it is part of her journey but not necessarily something a hero would do. Consider all the difficult decisions Tony Soprano had to make throughout the series.

  • Understand the narrative format of your story well

We have a different vision of an anti-hero in a feature film than in a series. The choices, payoffs, and subtexts vary according to the pace, format, and narrative time. " Joker " needed to sow some pain and reap the consequences quickly.

Selina Meyer has enough space and multiple situations in the differences between hero, anti-hero, and villain in the narrative" “Veep " to show the difficulties of being a woman in politics - even more so when surrounded by other people with "dubious aptitudes," according to her. In "The Americans," we get to know the entire lives of agents Elizabeth and Phillip Jennings, including the reasons for their decisions. Consider this when deciding on a format for your story.

Here are resources I recommend to get more in-depth knowledge

Storytelling 101 teaches you how to write compelling stories worthy of commercial success. This is best for screenwriters, novelists, filmmakers, videogame writers and storytellers.

Children’s Books 101 teaches you how to write stories that children will love. This is best for aspiring children’s book authors and storytellers.

Owl AI is the revolutionary AI-powered content production platform that helps storytellers, writers, and bloggers of all subject matter easily create highly-polished content.

Success, Money & Mindset Subliminal is a self-hypnosis recording that we recommend to new writers to help with focus, concentration, creativity, and motivation.

Shadow Work Journal: 240 Daily Prompts contains inner work exercises related to relationships, anger, anxiety, self-love, healing trauma, abandonment issues, depression, forgiveness, etc.


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