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How to write an anti-hero

Writing an anti-hero can be a complex task, but creating a compelling and nuanced character can add depth and complexity to your story. Here are some detailed steps on how to write an anti-hero:

Develop the anti-hero’s backstory

An anti-hero’s past can shape their present behaviour and motivations. Consider what events led them to become the person they are now. Did they experience trauma or hardship that caused them to become jaded or cynical? Did they grow up in a difficult environment? Knowing your character’s backstory will help you develop their personality and create a more realistic portrayal.

Identify the anti-hero’s flaws

One of the defining characteristics of an anti-hero is that they are not perfect. They may have flaws that are different from those of a traditional villain, but they should still be significant enough to make the character interesting and complex. Consider giving your anti-hero flaws such as arrogance, selfishness, or a tendency to resort to violence.

Determine the anti-hero’s goals and motivations

What drives your anti-hero? What are they trying to accomplish? It’s essential to create a clear motivation for your character, as it will dictate their actions throughout the story. Consider making their goals somewhat selfish or self-serving, as this will differentiate them from a traditional hero.

Add moral ambiguity

Anti-heroes are not always good or bad; they often exist in a moral grey area. They may have their own code of ethics or a unique sense of justice that does not align with society’s norms. Explore this moral ambiguity in your character and show how it affects their decisions and behaviour.

Give the anti-hero likable qualities

While anti-heroes are often flawed, they should still have some redeeming qualities that make them likable or relatable. These could be traits such as bravery, loyalty, or a good sense of humour. These qualities can help readers connect with the character and understand their motivations.

Create conflicting motivations

Anti-heroes often have conflicting motivations that drive their actions. They may be seeking revenge, but also have a desire to do good or protect someone they care about. This conflict can create tension and make the character more interesting.

Consider the anti-hero’s relationships

How does your anti-hero interact with others? Do they have close relationships, or are they a loner? Do they form alliances or prefer to work alone? Examining the anti-hero’s relationships can help you create a more well-rounded character.

Show the anti-hero’s transformation

Finally, consider giving your anti-hero the opportunity to grow and change throughout the story. This could involve them confronting their flaws, making difficult decisions, or learning to trust others. Showing the character’s transformation can add depth to their development and make the story more engaging.

Overall, creating an anti-hero requires careful consideration of the character’s flaws, motivations, and relationships. By creating a well-rounded and nuanced character, you can add depth and complexity to your story and engage readers on a deeper level.

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Published inWritingWriting tips

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