Brilliant Friend

Lesson 63 Chapter 5 Module 6

It’s easy to write about characters you love.

It’s even easy to write about characters you hate.

But those characters that are a bit...controversial?

The ones that you aren’t sure how you feel...can’t tell if they are the hero or the villian in their own story?

Today’s lesson is from a series of books, translated from Italian, about the friendship (and frenemieship) of two women, Elena and Lila, called The Neapolitan Novels.

This first book, My Brilliant Friend, goes back to where their relationship started, as young women in post-WW2 Italy, and their lives in the dangerous and crime-riddled village they are growing up in.

Elena is...perplexed by this girl Lila.

They are constantly competing with each other, for grades and for love and for toys...everything that is important to kids and teens.

But she also holds a strange admiration for Lila, and they create a complicated and multi-layered sisterhood.

Similar to how we talked about writing yourself into a corner earlier this week in The Rosie Project by clinging too tightly to how you think a character “should be”, you can also write yourself into a corner by writing people who are have no definition.

Of course we know that heroes are not always heroes, and villains tend to have backstories or take actions that might actually leave you feeling a little sympathetic.

To do that, you have to consider the flip side of your character descriptions.

Sure, you write all the things that are great about a hero or ideal customer avatar, and all the things that are bad about a villain or an anti-customer avatar--but what have you considered are the bad things about your hero? And the good things about your bad guy (or girl...or competitor?)

Take the time to write your characters with more than just a shallow understanding.

Write about them in more than a bullet-list of characteristics; full-out describe them in the good, the bad, and the downright ugly.

When you understand your characters and customers that well, starting to give them stories becomes that much easier.

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