Definition: inclined to criticize severely; to evaluate judiciously
Characters in Literature: Headmistress Trunchbull (Matilda); Professor Snape (Harry Potter); Norma Bates ‘Mother’ (Psycho)
Common Portrayals: Unyielding coaches, professors and teachers; nuns who run orphanages & schools; pressuring parents living their dreams through their children via sports/activities; Army boot camp trainers
Clichés to Avoid: The overbearing parent or grandparent; a sadistic principal or teacher who enjoys brow-beating students; the older sister who is over critical of her younger siblings; the boss for whom nothing is ever good enough
Twists on the Traditional Critic:
- Critics are often portrayed as negative within a storyline, or even as villains. Try creating a critical character as a positive force, rather than a ‘necessary evil’ device for another character to succeed (like your typical coach/star athlete duo).
- Most critics are seen as hardened individuals made that way by circumstances & the environment. Try to infuse soft-hardheartedness in your critic, or give us a critical character who is emotional &/ encouraging.
- The critical character’s biggest target is often themselves. They can drive themselves with high expectations and then hold others to the same standards. What happens when a critical, driven character is placed in a situation where the goal is to ensure a defeat of some kind, not success?
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