All the Beautiful People

Encouragement Writing

I was just musing about something—a tendency I have. (You’ll have to let me know if I’m the only one.)

When I was younger, every protagonist I wrote was me. In some (okay, most) ways, it was a version of me or how I wished I was. The girls were always short with dark hair and brown eyes. They had all the qualities I hoped and wished I had, they had the same tastes and ideas, not to mention the same speech patterns, I’m sure.

These days, I try not to write a polished-up clone of myself into every story. First, it’s cheesy; second, it gets boring; and third… I have a new vice. (Cue villain laugh.)

I’ve never written a character with a chocolate habit…
Or who never gets around to brushing her hair until some time after breakfast…
Or who talks too much…
Or whose face always looks a bit oily no matter what she does with it…
Or who’s just intensely ordinary-looking.

(Wow, that makes it sound like I’ve never written a realistic character.)

I definitely have a tendency to mainly write beautiful people. Do you? Do you find yourself writing people who could be models or actors—who never seem to have a hair out of place?

Or do you let your characters have chocolate-eating, oily-faced moments? (Everyone has those, you know. Even the never-a-hair-out-of-place types. I’m pretty certain of it.)

Oh, sure, we’re comfortable writing an ugly villain (so I challenge you to write a terrifyingly beautiful one—ha!) or a realistically flawed comic character. But our protagonists? The ones we take seriously? Nope. Not gonna happen.

Unless we make it happen.

Let’s write some amazingly ordinary people. Let’s write some characters who don’t have it all together—and in ways that matter and can’t just be laughed at. Let’s create protagonists who are weak in ways we are strong and vice versa.

Let’s let our characters be real enough to be un-beautiful at least part of the time. Don’t you think they might like a break?

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Let's write some amazingly ordinary people. Let's write some characters who don't have it all together—and in ways that matter and can't just be laughed at.


(Originally published by Perry Elisabeth on

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