Friday, May 20, 2011


Speaking of character... how do you write a good one?

We know that a fictional character should be more than just a stereotype. Right? I came across an interesting table in the newspaper a few days ago titled "Hidden Rules Among Classes." It compares how one's social class (poverty, middle class, and upper class) influences attitudes and values towards different aspects of life. Some examples:

Time - (P)- present is most important; (MC) - future most important; (UC) - traditions and history most important

Food - (P) - quantity important; (MC) - quality important; (UC) - presentation important

World View - (P) - local view; (MC) - national view; (UC) - international view

Humor - (P) - about people & sex; (MC) - about situations; (UC) - about social faux pas

For the complete table, go here.

I thought this might be a useful tool for us writers - aspiring or otherwise. I think when we can get a sense of the generalizations of a group of people, we can better find interesting ways for a character to diverge from the stereotypes. Kind of a lame example, but think about Remy from Ratatouille. He's a rat - definitely at the bottom of the social ladder. But he's obsessed with gourmet food - something usually valued by society's upper crust. The way his individual values conflict with those of his social group create tension - and, in essence, the story.

Think about your favorite fictional characters. Or real life characters, for that matter. Probably the most interesting thing about them are their little (or major) divergences from the norm.


  1. I LOVE this!
    I tried to comment on this the day that it posted but something was buggy with my internet. After two tries, I gave up. Forgive me?

    I think that Scrooge is a good example of sitting in a social class but living life like another. An anti-Remy if you will.

    I loved the chart as well. Definitely going to be using that as I look as people and characters.

  2. Great table--very useful blog post.