The Elusive or Mysterious Character


After writing poems, ranting and banging my head against my desk as I finish Fallen book 2, I am getting back to writing topics. (Collective sigh here!)

Today, I thought we would talk about the mysterious character This is one area would like to get better at, and through research I think (we) can do it! 

First off, I find mysterious people very intriguing, so reading about one only titillates me! Creating one, well that is a challenge. How can you create interesting, frustrating and elusive creatures?

The one thing you have to remember is this type of character is almost always hard to figure out, (thing hard to understand or read), and very secretive.

Some examples of these characters, ranging anywhere from “kind of mysterious” to “hot damn mysterious.”

  1. The Cullens-Twilight
  2. Jason Bourne-Jason Bourne Series
  3. Matthew Clairmount-Discovery of Witches
  4. James Bond-James Bond Series
  5. The Joker-Batman comics

Mysterious characters often have a few similar characteristics, ones that could be used and others that could be forgotten. No tall dark and handsome here! Try to avoid the stranger with a mysterious past! Though it can be done really well if you are going to do it. For instance he could be a “half” stranger. Meaning he used to live in a small town, moved away and then suddenly came back decades later. Why? Smell the possibilities!!!!

He was tall with striking features. His jaw was square and strong. His voice smooth as silk, but his words stung like a wasp..jpg

True most of my examples, OK all of them, are male. So you could twist things up a bit and create a mysterious female character. Though I think a few female characters from Steampunk books could easily fit this description! In Jane Eyre-Jane is mysterious to anyone who meets her. Mainly because she doesn’t really talk to anyone and she seems to watch everything. I may be reaching here but I loved that book and I had to mention it! 🙂

You could also add mystery by creating a character who goes on a hunting trip or camping trip and when he comes back he is different some how. Why? What happened? Did he come back alone? If not is he still friends with the person who went with him?



I typically think that mysterious or elusive characters are secretive, or a bit of a wall flower. Though having watched Penny Dreadful and watching how they created Dorian Grey makes me think there could be a different approach. In Penny Dreadful, Dorian is very outgoing, needs to be entertained, gets bored easy and is very passionate. But who is?

Sounds easy doesn’t it? Then why is it that so many other books seem to fail when creating a character that is mysterious or evasive or elusive. Let’s challenge ourselves and create a character that is mysterious and interesting!  Along with this post I also want to include a writing prompt. I am curious to know how you guys come up with a mysterious character.

Writing prompt/Challenge:

So here you go! This comes from something that I am working on called “The Lost One.”

Who is Jeremy-.jpg

I looked at the ruins that once was Jeremy’s truck. Memories began to flood my mind of us driving in the the thing going to Crater Lake or up to Seattle to Pike’s Market. I felt the blush creep up my neck as I thought about tall the pre-marital make out sessions we used to have in the back. Where was he? Why had he had been in Washington.

I had told the police Jeremy had changed, almost like his personality just flipped a switch. This part of Jeremy, the man who would have a mistress and get her pregnant, that was not the man I knew.

Writing prompt: Who is Jeremy? How has he changed from a caring man to someone who acts out of character. What happened that made him want to change. Or has he always been that way?

If necessary here is another post of Part Two and  Part Three to help you in your research. Of course I can answer any questions you may have. Love to read what everyone comes up with!

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4 thoughts on “The Elusive or Mysterious Character

  1. This post really captures where I’ve been for the last while. I’m trying to make my MC the mysterious character. From what I’ve been told I think I’ve managed the mysterious part, the only tricky bit is keeping him relatable when writing in his POV, without giving anything away.


    1. Aw this is a creative challenge! I think as long as your MC has flaws that make him “human”, and problems like the rest of us, he can still be relatable. In Discovery of Witches, the story is told in Diana’s POV. She has a past and some scars that make her a mystery not only to the reader but to Matthew as well. Through subtle hints and incidents throughout the book we learn more about her background. I think this keeps her relatable and keeps her a bit more mysterious. I found myself feeling sorry for her alot of the times and even related to her. Sadly, I will use Twilight here. For educational purposes! But she also has a bit of mysterious undertone to her. The way she has to take care of her parents, or the way she is overly responsible, or how she channels her mother’s fears and dislikes as her own. See relatable… I would love to read anything you have to give you my impression. IE let you know if I find your character relatble. Let me know if I can help!


      1. Thanks for the offer. Oddly enough through the help of critique partners I’ve stumbled on exactly the solution you suggested. I think I’m managing it, but I’ll let you know if I need any advice after this round of rewrites.


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