How to Write a Character Article (a "Be Like" Article) on wikiHow

wikiHow is a how-to Manual. How-to articles provide guides on how to do, fix, mend, try, make, or achieve something practical or real. How-to articles are therefore not lengthy narratives, biographies or exercises in pure creative writing. When you write a how-to article, it is important to ask yourself if you are writing something that the average person can realistically do or achieve, with clear and factually based action steps.

When you write about copying the way another person or a fictional character looks, the instructions that you give must be clear, achievable by any reader wanting to try to copy this person or character and they must not be based on your guesses as to anything that this celebrity or character might think or do - you must know for sure when you suggest that the celebrity or character would think or do the things you write.

This article sets out some details to help you write a celebrity or character article on wikiHow with the intention of writing an effective how-to and avoiding a nomination for deletion.

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  1. Image titled Write a Character Article (a "Be Like" Article) on wikiHow Step 1
    Get the title right by not using "be like". It is not possible to 'be' anybody except for yourself. Nor is it possible to fairly portray how somebody you don't know personally acts - you are not inside their head space. In most cases, wikiHow editors do not live next door to celebrities and nobody on Earth lives next to cartoon, TV or movie characters, so we risk getting very creative when we think we know how a celebrity or character acts. Any articles that are titled "How to Be X or How to Be Like X" will have the title changed, and may even be nominated for deletion if they are suggesting in any way that the reader will become another person. If they are lists of generalized features and actions of the celebrity or character, they will also be considered incomplete because they lack sufficient information to convey anything to a reader on how to copy the look of the celebrity or character. Titles likely to be more acceptable are those that suggest copying/ imitating/ mimicking as opposed to being. List of better titles:
    • Look Like Y
    • Cosplay X
    • Wear Your Hair Like AA
    • Have Lips Like BB
    • Sew A Dress Like CNC's In Her ZZ Concert
    • Do the Makeup of DD in the Film "Troppo Mime Artist"
    • Dress Like EE on the TV show "Flying Elephants"/ Dress Up As EE
    • Be inspired by FF's Style
    • Other reasonable, effective and achievable title wording
  2. Image titled Write a Character Article (a "Be Like" Article) on wikiHow Step 2
    Use "Act Like" only for articles about acting. Such articles should be suitable to sit under the Acting and Theater categories. In other words, the articles should be about teaching a reader how to portray a character. It is not possible to objectively explain how a character thinks, behaves etc. in an instructional how-to fashion. As soon as you begin writing in this fashion, you enter the realm of creative writing and start imposing your subjective notions on a character rather than reflecting real, do-able and actionable elements of copying or imitating a person's style, appearance or look.
  3. Image titled Write a Character Article (a "Be Like" Article) on wikiHow Step 3
    Focus on the achievable. You have the title right but things get trickier now. Telling someone how to look like somebody else does not consist of telling them to shampoo their hair every day, to wear contact lenses in a different color or to spray on perfume or a tan. These are the sort of generic statements that make the article apply to everybody and nobody. They do not help a reader to understand how they can copy a look. You need concrete examples and actions that a reader can realistically copy and that will achieve the features or characteristics of that celebrity or character. Everybody with hair washes it, so remember this as a rule of thumb when you add your information - if it is so generic as to be applicable to everybody, it will not help the reader.
  4. Image titled Write a Character Article (a "Be Like" Article) on wikiHow Step 4
    Consider how good magazine writing tells its readers how to copy star looks. If you are having a hard time coming to grips with this, consider how good magazine writing portrays articles on how to capture the style or essence of a celebrity or character. Magazine articles focus on what a reader can realistically achieve and in general, such articles are aimed at readers just like us, people on a budget that falls well below that of the stars! Therefore, they show how we can substitute items for what a celebrity or character is wearing or presents as an overall style. Rarely will it be possible for the average reader to be able to afford the Dior gown or mimic precisely the clothing penned by the cartoonist's hand. Realistically, few people would ever have the ability to purchase the exact items you see being worn on another person from head to toe and so magazines provide suggestions for copying the style. Your writing skill, therefore, comes from clearly explaining to a reader what they can use at home, at an affordable price, to mimic the clothing, accessories, hairstyles, makeup etc. of the celebrity or character. Write about such elements as:
    • Lips - lipstick, shades of lipstick/lip liner/lip pencil. For example, "To have lips like Princess M's, use a dark matte shade of lipstick that is finished off by a lighter shade of lipliner. Add gloss over the top to perfect the look."
    • Clothes - style of clothing to copy, particular clothing elements or decorations to look for, jewelry additions etc.; focus on specificities, such as style about town of a Hollywood star or a particular set of clothes worn by an actor or character in a movie or cartoon. Say things like "X wears flared jeans and red t-shirts in her weekly show; look for gowns flared jeans and a red t-shirt like the ones in this photo.", or "J wore an elegant long gown to the Oscars; you could copy the style of this gown by adding an insert to a long gold skirt and sewing a baby doll top onto the skirt" etc.
    • Hair - a special type of hairstyle, such as a bob (Paris Hilton), long hair (Jennifer Anniston), wavy hair (Andy McDowell), neat hair (Reese Witherspoon) etc. or pick a specific look of a celebrity or character in a film and focus on recreating that style, with step-by-step instructions.
    • Figure - this one is hard to write about given all the plastic surgery, airbrushing and unrealistic cartoon/comic book sizing but a magazine spread might discuss a general body shape and then talk about the diet that the celebrity or character follows. Beware though! This element veers dangerously close to supposition - unless you have a one-to-one interview with Keira Knightley about what diet she follows each day, you're just guessing and editors will be deleting. You can mention body shape but don't suppose how the celebrity got that shape without references to back it up.
  5. Image titled Write a Character Article (a "Be Like" Article) on wikiHow Step 5
    Avoid creative writing traps. It is easy to identify with a celebrity or character that we read about or watch a lot. For instance, we might watch a cartoon daily and like a softly spoken character with a great hair-do that we just wish we had too. Then we start imagining how that hair-do could be recreated and how to copy the soft speech style. The result can be a blend of characteristics we like and characteristics we'd like to cultivate in ourselves, with an enthusiasm to share these things with other people. When we try to transfer our visualization to the written word, we are already carrying a lot of subjective baggage about how we would personally copy this character or celebrity. The fine line between this being creative writing and a how-to therefore, is whether you can actually demonstrate that there are practical things another reader could do and still resemble the character or celebrity. And there are creative writing traps to avoid, such as:
    • Avoid making assumptions about people and characters. How do you know that Jennifer Aniston likes doing X, Y, Z during leisure time? Most likely you don't know and neither does anybody likely to be writing about her on wikiHow. However, you do know that Jennifer has long hair in a certain style. Add a photo using our photo search tool to back up your description of her hair and clearly describe the manner in which this has been achieved. If you don't know, don't write it.
    • Avoid the product endorsement assumption. Just because a model wears Victoria's Secret or Chanel in advertisements does not mean that the model wears these items in real life. Models and celebrities are paid to wear these things. Few of us go home from a uniformed job and leave the uniform on during leisure time. We cannot assume that these people do so either. And this is a subtle form of advertising on wikiHow, which is unacceptable.
    • Avoid generalizations. When we make a comment such as "B always wears earrings and G loves jeans", unless B or G are our best friends (in which case they cannot be the subject of an article on wikiHow!), you don't really know that they always do these things. You are generalizing and making an assumption. Be very careful to relate to the context. For example, "B is often seen in Hollywood photos wearing flowing dresses because she is pregnant, as shown in this photo." Or, "In the XYZ cartoon series, V wears green pyjamas in every episode, so you might consider wearing green pyjamas to copy this look." And most importantly, don't tell your readers to always dress or look a certain way; nobody is a static being and readers do not appreciate being told that they should always look only one way.
    • Avoid the "acts like", "behaves like" assumptions. When you start writing about how to sing, dance, talk or walk like a certain celebrity or character, you begin getting pretty close to making things up. Unless you really know your details, (or the person!), it will be very hard to write a good, solid article on any of these things. Simply stating "sing high notes because she does" or "walk like a pigeon, only with your toes turned across one another", then you are really telling us nothing achievable, comprehensible or reliable. In fact, to truly write an article of this magnitude and do it justice, you'd need to do a way lot more research than simply watching videos or TV shows and surmising that that must be how they do it... which brings us to the next step.
    • Use references as your friends. If you say that "BB has a love of animals and volunteers at an animal welfare shelter in her spare time.", back it up. Add a reference to where you got that piece of information from. Just like this.<ref>Stars in the Sky, Issue No 5, March 2008, ''BB Volunteers at Local Animal Shelter'', p 6</ref> or <ref></ref> See how to use reference sources on wikiHow, for detailed referencing instructions. This is the one time when you can get away with saying how an actor thinks, because you can reference comments.
    • Use videos. There are a number of YouTube videos that have some great examples of people imitating a celebrity or character. Alternatively, you can use music, catwalk, fashion show, movie excerpts etc. to demonstrate and back up the points made in an article about a celebrity using a video. You can embed a YouTube video in wikiHow, or add your own - why not film your costume party next time?!
  6. Image titled Write a Character Article (a "Be Like" Article) on wikiHow Step 6
    Think cosplay or costume as one solution. Cosplay (costume play) articles are about a real pastime that can be reflected accurately in instruction form in an article. In addition, costume articles are a really good method for adding information about a celebrity or character because they focus the writer on the practicalities of achieving the look through step-by-step instructions, rather than risking guesses about what a celebrity or character thinks or does.
  7. Image titled Write a Character Article (a "Be Like" Article) on wikiHow Step 7
    Add celebrity or character information once. Add your information to an existing article; don't presume that your take on the celebrity or character is so unique that it has to have its own article. That is just asking for it to be deleted. Add the new information to the existing article on that celebrity or character. If there is already an article on How to Sing Like Miley Cyrus, don't add another one. Creative slants on titles to slip in duplicate information will be noticed and removed. The only acceptable variants will be where a particular feature of a celebrity is worth an article in its own right, for example, where hair, lips, gait etc. are distinctive enough to warrant a step-by-step explanation on achieving such features.
  8. Image titled Write a Character Article (a "Be Like" Article) on wikiHow Step 8
    Be considerate. These guidelines are here for a reason. We want wikiHow to work, to be a respected and useful source of information. Your freedom to write how-to's comes with the responsibility to know wikiHow's few rules and its general guidelines and to respect these. Editors have seen a lot over the years and know what works on wikiHow and what does not and they are mindful of the overall reputation of wikiHow as a whole. The celebrity and character articles must be of the same high standard expected of every other article on wikiHow and if they cannot meet this standard, they will risk being shifted out by community consensus. If this happens to a celebrity or character article written by you or beloved by you, remember that it is not a personal attack; it is a quality assurance issue for the site as a whole.
  9. Image titled Write a Character Article (a "Be Like" Article) on wikiHow Step 9
    Read our "perfect" celebrity/character articles. To help you get a visual, quick guide overview of how a "perfect" celebrity character article should turn out for wikiHow, see here. Existing articles on wikiHow to help you include:
    • Dress Up As Santa Claus - uses photos and clear instructions
    • Create the Paris Hilton Bob Hairstyle - clear, step-by-step recreation of a particular hairstyle for which this celebrity socialite was famous in 2008
    • Make Big Anime Cat Girl Feet for a Cosplay - great use of photos, explanatory steps focused on the achievable
    • Look Like Hannah Montana - demonstrates how video import and a range of photos can really assist the reader to "get the picture"
    • Dress Like Angelina Ballerina - example of a character with photos
    • Look Like Emma Watson - example with photos & inclusion of referenced statements (please do reference to avoid making assumptions)
    • Look Like Adriana Lima - photos help to make points clearer
    • Be Inspired by the Style of Ami or Amy Mizuno from Sailor Moon - example of how copying clothing and hair can be achieved; shows how looking for a costume photo can really assist such an article
    • Get Angelina Jolie's Lips - example of a focus on one body part alone that someone may think is worth imitating because it is a distinctive feature of the celebrity in question
    • Dance Like Madonna - example of how to explain the "eras" of dance styles to assist a reader, inclusion of video to assist
    • Be Raggedy Ann for Halloween - a costume article featuring an animated/cartoon character
    • Dress Up as Mario from Super Mario Bros - photos depict each stage; simple instructions minus assumptions about how character thinks or acts - people can work that out for themselves


  • A pointer - unlike commercially produced magazines, wikiHow does not exist to promote some products over others. Basically, this means that you cannot include your favorite brands of clothing, makeup, other cosmetics, fashion boutiques, etc. It is easy to substitute these things with generic terms, such as "red lipstick", "matte lipstick", "a good quality red t-shirt", "a strong floral scent", etc. Not only does wikiHow not promote one product over another, wikiHow reaches all English-speaking corners of the world; shockingly but true, Abercrombie or Banana Republic cannot make the same claim. If you don't substitute a product name, an editor will either remove the product names completely, or if they have time and feel inclined, will use substitute terms.
  • Try to avoid arguing subjectively or sentimentally about the deletion of celebrity and character style articles. Complaining that "I worked really hard on this and you're censoring my right to write" doesn't carry any weight and makes it clear that you don't understand the wikiHow community process and writing guidelines. The community is very divided on the existence of celebrity and character articles and this article is an attempt to ensure that the articles able to meet its guidelines have a place on wikiHow. This isn't about ruining your ambitions to write on wikiHow. It's about ensuring a robust website that is looked at by readers and outsiders alike and considered with respect. How-to articles that merely consist of one person's subjective and incomplete run-down of a celebrity or character that is popular today and gone tomorrow is not what wikiHow is about; we are about a site capable of giving people actionable information that makes a real difference in a reader's ability to achieve something by using the article. Always keep this in mind when a celebrity or character article is being considered for removal from wikiHow. And there are always blogs if you feel incredibly passionate about keeping your creative writing.


  • Never write "be yourself" as if the reader is unable to tell the difference between their own self and the character whose looks or style they are copying. This phrase carries an unfavorable assumption that the reader is not clever enough to know who they are. In reality, that makes an assumption that the author is the authority on the knowing how not to succumb to becoming the character, whereas the reader possibly will... now really, that just isn't realistic, let alone polite!
  • Avoid saying "don't tell other people you are trying to be this person." That just reads like impoverished advice from an inexperienced author with no knowledge about how people behave in the real world. Saying this provides the article with a touch of arrogance wikiHow readers don't want to read and makes readers dismiss the article as teaching them to "suck eggs".

Things You'll Need

  • A willingness to read wikiHow's policies, to respect them and to understand that this is something the community values highly as a means for maintaining the quality of wikiHow as a site directed at a wide range of readers who are looking for high quality, instructional articles. Normally we don't add such fluffy and intangible "Things You'll Need" either, but in this special article, it's here to reinforce the point.

Sources and Citations

  • Forum discussion describing quality approach for character articles.
  • Forum discussion on deleting articles that fall well below character article guidelines.
  • Instructions for patrollers and boosters

Article Info

Categories: Writing and Editing