A Young Writer’s Guide to Creating Characters
Uninteresting or two-dimensional characters are a make or break issue for me when reading a novel. If I can’t relate to the characters, can I care enough to read the remainder of their story? How about you?
As a writer, it’s really important for you to like your character too and want to get to know them. Face it you will be investing a great deal of your time with them over the length of writing the story it’s important that you want to tell their story.
My advice is simple, try to infuse your characters with a little bit of yourself, your interests, hopes, dreams, fears…, an old saying is “write what you know” which can be expressed through your characters. Here are some other simple steps to help make your characters come to life.
Motivate your character to move through your plot, you must give your character a goal or mission and one that is important enough to drive them through the story. What is it they want? What do they need? What do they fear, or hope will happen to them? Make sure to also give them obstacles to overcome.
Make them real, humans are inherently flawed beings; we aren’t perfect each of us has both positive and negative traits. Create “real” characters, fill them with insecurities, make them get angry, give them quirks and opinions, let them cry. The trick is to remember to balance both the good and the bad.
Give them consequences if they don’t reach their goal. What will happen if they don’t meet their goal or mission? Will someone else suffer? Will they suffer? How will they feel? Make sure they care about what happens if they can’t fulfil their mission add a sense of urgency.
Make each character unique both in personality, voice and physical description. By creating details about their style of dress, gait (the way they walk), physical mannerisms, emotions as well as their story backgrounds. Too many similar characters will be confusing for both you, as the writer and for the reader.
Your characters shouldn’t know everything about what is happening. As is true with real life, not everyone has all the answers, keep your characters guessing as well as the reader. The reader will have to find out alongside the characters.
Avoid falling into lazy stereotypes when writing a character i.e dumb jock etc. Most of the time stereotypes such as my example are completely inaccurate and even worse, they are incredibly offensive.
Show don’t tell applies to your characters as well don’t say they were angry or sad, show it through their actions and interactions with others.
These are a few ideas that I have found work for me. Hope they help! What are some of your go to character development tips? Feel free to drop them in the comments section below.