The Lebel Model 1886 M93 model was the main French sniper rifle used during WW1. Pictured is the rifle fited with an original A.P.X. 1916 scope, as used by Maréchal Beachêne in The Witch’s March.
The elfish have evolved with the times, no longer just legendary for their skill with bow and arrow, but also the rifle. His rivals have claimed it’s due to his enhanced sight, but that doesn’t mean they can’t argue the simple fact: Beachêne is the best of the best.
So often, stories follow a simple formula: good versus evil, us versus them, heroes versus villains. It follows the same rule that most author choices do: it doesn’t matter what you write, but how you write it. Quality writing comes from bold writing, but everything has to be written with an air of caution. If you’re going to give a character a noble trait, make sure to note it as noble. Likewise, if you’re going to give a character an evil trait, make sure to note it as evil.
With that said, most people in the world aren‘t a 0 or a 10, or even a 1 or 9. Writing gray characters are what make shows like Game of Thrones (except Season 8, but I don’t want to go down that road right now) and Umbrella Academy so successful.
A common route to take with gray characters is their confliction when making decisions. That doesn’t have to be true. They can just as easily be an antagonist who feel justified in their actions for sympathetic reasons. Or a hero who will sacrifice the few to save the many. To get to know the character better, think of those gut-wrenching questions like the trolley dilemma. Don’t be afraid to pull from their backstory (and they really should have one if your thought there was “what backstory?” to waver their decision in a different direction than the rest of their personality my convey.
There are generally two main categories of gray area characters. The lovable villain and the anti-hero. The lovable villain: who we know is bad but forgive them do to a few redeemable qualities. Think of characters like Loki or Darth Vader. Then, the anti-hero: who has no intention of being good but has some moralistic code that makes him/her rise to the occasion. Captain Jack Sparrow or Dexter Morgan.
I’ve always noticed two particular patterns when writing gray: characters that start together in the middle of the spectrum commonly end up in 2 opposing sides by the end; and, if characters seemingly start out one side of the spectrum at the beginning, they are pulled to the center by the thought.
If I had to sum up out to create the perfect gray area character, I would ask yourself these six questions:
What is their overall goal?
If higher on the scale, what is one thing that would make them cross the line?
If lower on the scale, where do they draw the line?
What is one thing unexpected about them?
What is their background?
Do they have any emotional wounds?
When I first started writing this blog, I did it to document my story as an author. As my journey continued, I also became filled with the desire to help other writers. Once I made the decision to become an indie author and self publish, I had to do research on the business end of things. With my degree in Finance and background in the business world, I kind of thought I even had a head start. Other authors also have valuable insights to give, and I want to make sure you all know where to go. Other than my own (yes, this is also shameless plug), here are my ## best websites made by authors for authors:
https://www.thecreativepenn.com/ by Joanna Penn / J.F. Penn
Penn’s website includes over 1,000 articles and over 230 hours of free audio and video. I found her website through her podcast, The Creative Penn (once you’re done with the website, I highlight recommend it.
https://writershelpingwriters.net/ by Writers Helping Writers
This website comes with a myriad of talented and experiences writers. One of which, Becca Puglisi, who is the author of books I’ve suggested in the past such as The Emotional Wound Thesaurus: A Writer’s Guide to Psychological Trauma and The Emotion Thesaurus: A Writer’s Guide to Character Expression.
https://goinswriter.com/blog/ by Jeff Goins
Goins has a website that’s primarily focused on writing tips themselves rather than the publishing side of things.
https://www.makealivingwriting.com/ by Carol Tice
Tice is a free-lance writer writing for free-lance writers. She even has a free customized report that she can email you based on your writing “tenure”.
http://laurensapala.com/ by Lauren Sapala
Sapala’s blog also likes to focus on the creative side of writing. Her website is best for new writers.
https://www.thebookdesigner.com/ by Joel Friedlander
Friedlander has articles about book design, book reviews, podcasts, publishing timeline, self-publishing, social media, and more.
http://avajae.blogspot.com/ by Ava Jae
Jae is author of the Beyond the Red trilogy and also has a vlog.