Character Development with Aristotle

Aristotle taught that the Golden Mean balances features of human behavior.


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Aristotle – the golden mean. Moral behavior is the mean between two extremes – at one end is excess, at the other deficiency. Find a moderate position between those two extremes, and you will be acting morally.


When developing realistic characters in your writing, consider extreme behaviors which lead in either direction.

Since human nature is imperfect, people often exhibit actions of excess or deficiency.

Writing your character’s behavior to include the good and the bad makes them seem real.

The best villains often also show the reader an honorable side of their nature.


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Look at the chart below to help you decide how your character will behave.


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Aristotle also taught about peripeteia — a change in fortune:

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A change in fortune or a change in the action from positive to negative OR from negative to positive makes your plot dynamic and engages the reader.

Today’s Assignment:

1. Write a character sketch.

2. Show how this character is good in some ways and bad in some ways. (In other words, show how your character’s behavior falls on the side of excess or deficiency in Aristotle’s chart.)

3. Watch this video.