Shy characters don’t have to be passive

Nathan Bransford, one of TVWriter™’s favorite writers and writing consultants is here to talk about how you can – and should – create characters who are shy but not passive…because just between us, in TV (although not necessarily in novels, short stories, et al) the fact that a character can control their situation is what makes them a hero, don’tcha know?

by Nathan Bransford

Every protagonist in a novel should start in one place and end up in another irrevocably changed. Character arcs are crucial building blocks of novels.

One very common arc involves a character who starts off shy or timid and has to become brave or find their voice.

But here’s the problem that I often see when I’m editing novels with these storylines: protagonists need to be active. Even (or especially) characters who aren’t yet brave.

The problem with wholly passive characters is that they are very difficult to invest in. When characters don’t try to shape their destiny and don’t try to change their circumstances, they appear to lack any convictions whatsoever.

It’s tough to connect with characters who appear to have just thrown up their hands in the face of their problems. If they’re not trying they can’t care that much.

But this raises a conundrum: how do you make a timid character active?…

Read it all at

Need help with your book? Nathan is available for manuscript edits, query critiques, and coaching!

For my best advice, check out Nathan’s guide to writing a novel (now available in audio) and his guide to publishing a book.

And if you like this post: subscribe to Nathan’s newsletter!