• Jessica Sherry

15+ Writing Ideas on Contradictory Characters

The best characters are usually odd ducks--people with strange eccentricities and ironic contradictions. My Delilah Duffy mystery series features a young woman who loves the beach but is scared to death of water. She knows how to swim, but a near-drowning as a child incites panic whenever she gets too close to the shore. The irony that she's a beach girl with a water phobia is one of my favorite weird things about her, and it's fueled many aspects of her books.

Happy Duck

To develop characters, it's useful to think in odd combinations. People often start things, like career paths, with the best intentions only to undergo life changes that upset their plans. Or maybe your character has a love/hate relationship with something, like Delilah. Here's a list of ironic characters to inspire your writing:

  • A diabetic candy maker or candy store owner

  • An alcoholic bartender

  • A fire fighter who's an arsonist

  • A germaphobic sanitation engineer

  • A librarian who hates reading

  • An atheist preacher

  • A teacher who dislikes kids

  • A dirty cop (Though arguably overdone, it still makes the list.)

  • A surgeon with an aversion to blood (I stole this idea from Doc Martin)

  • A vampire with an aversion to blood (Did I make that up or is that a thing already?)

  • A giant afraid of bugs

  • An agoraphobic freedom fighter

  • A feminist homemaker

  • An actor or supermodel who fears attention

  • An accountant who's terrible with her own money

  • A rich miser

  • A poor philanthropist

  • A writer without readers *tear*... a writer without story ideas (that's crazy!)... a writer who writes romances/adventures/thrillers/mysteries but fears having any of these himself... Ironic writer ideas flow pretty easily around here. :)

What odd combinations set your characters apart? Start or join the conversation by sharing below.

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