Readers have favorite types of characters. They could be characters opposite our own personalities allowing us to live vicariously through them. They could be like ourselves, but do and say things we wish we could do and go on adventures we dream of. Favorite types of characters can be found in genre fiction as each genre has tropes readers expect. Other times favorite authors have their own character tropes readers love.
As a reader, I gravitate toward strong female characters. They don’t have to be physically strong; I’d prefer if they weren’t because I don’t lift, bro. Rather females who are smart, resourceful, and flawed. Humor is also a plus, but it depends upon the appropriateness of the story. I also prefer them to not fit into societal expectations, who stand out, and either are equal to men or fight to be an equal.
In some ways, my favorite female characters are like me; usually the intelligence, humor, and being deeply flawed. Overall, though, they differ greatly from me. They are bold and brave where I feel weak. Adventurous whereas I’m a homebody. Speak up where I’m too scared. Or if they are a villain, they tap into my dark side.
There is also a certain type of male character I enjoy. Like the women, I prefer the men to be smart, funny (without being childish), flawed, but also kind without being boring. Likewise, it’s great when they buck expectations, be it society’s or the reader’s. I appreciate it when a male isn’t just a warrior or a brute and I certainly don’t understand the “bad boy” trope. A level of vulnerability is great as well though I don’t see that as often as I’d like to.
Having favorite types of characters is true for authors as well. As a writer, I try to write characters I myself enjoy. Sometimes upon first glance they fit a standard trope, but through the story I try to reveal they don’t fit. Other times from the start I make it clear this person isn’t like everyone else and this difference is one of the struggles they will deal with.
For some reason, I frequently feel more comfortable writing male characters. Perhaps it’s because I like it when men are portrayed differently and want readers, especially female readers, to see men in a different light.
I struggle writing females. Since I’ve always felt as if I don’t fit in with my own gender, I worry my women won’t connect with female readers. It’s a contradictory philosophy, especially when compared to my philosophy of writing male characters. But a lifetime of blank stares and mouths agape expressing views and opinions counter to what many females feel and think has had an impact on my writing. That being said, I am working on when I do write women, to keep in mind there are plenty of examples of “different” women who connect with readers.
While we all have our favorite character tropes, it’s import for both readers and writers to explore outside your comfort zone. Within those characters something special can be discovered. You can also safely tap into other parts of yourself you are afraid of. Similarly, it’s a great way to delve into diversity on multiple levels.