How To Create an Anti-Hero: NaNoWriMo Tip #26

By Maryann Yin 

Is your National Novel Writing Month plot stuck? Maybe you need to add an anti-hero.

V from V for Vendetta, Lisbeth Salander from The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, Severus Snape from the Harry Potter series, Guy Montag from  Fahrenheit 451 and The Punisher. What do all these characters have in common? They aren’t villains; they’re anti-heroes.

Above, we’ve embedded a TED-Ed video about anti-heroes, narrated by educator Tim Adams. Below, we’ve rounded up tips for creating an anti-hero.

Three Tips for Creating an Anti-Hero

1. In an interview with shelfari, novelist Paul S. Kemp offers this definition for an anti-hero: “Broadly speaking anti-heroes are nothing more than protagonists who have some characteristics traditionally deemed heroic, and some that stand in opposition to those traditionally deemed heroic.”

2. In a past article, Writer’s Digest advises that an anti-hero must exhibit “easily identified imperfections.”

3. J.K. Rowling has described her anti-hero, Severus Snape, as “rather cruel, a bully, riddled with bitterness and insecurity.” This suggests that anti-heroes are not necessarily likable characters.

This is our 26th NaNoWriMo Tip of the Day. As writers around the country join the writing marathon this month, we will share one piece of advice or writing tool to help you cope with this daunting project.