Without characters you don’t have a story. So how do authors develop them? There are many different methods. For this blog, I’m sharing some tips from writing experts.
Novel Writing Help cautions against creating characters that are “dislikeable or, worse, deadly dull.” To prevent this, the website recommends:
- Characters don’t need to be beautiful, eloquent and witty, but they do need to be charismatic.
- Make characters likeable by giving them traits readers love such as kindness, generosity, a sense of humor, willingness to help others and goal setting.
- Characters should be relatable but do extraordinary things.
- Characters can’t sit around feeling sorry for themselves.
- Characters must be great at whatever they do.
- Characters should be slightly unhappy.
- Pretend you’re a journalist and find out various facts about characters such as sexuality, education, and profession.
- Characters that don’t fit into stereotypes are more interesting.
- Give your characters a purpose.
- Create a list of your characters’ likes and dislikes.
- Give characters traits that say something about their personality.
- Characters homes say something about their history.
A blog writer called The Critic on writing.com says s/he assigns characters birthdates and then using the characters’ zodiac signs to determine their personality.
Author Jerry Jenkins offers maybe the best tip of all – make characters flawed and vulnerable. He says, “A lead character without human qualities is impossible to identify with. But make sure his flaws aren’t deal breakers. They should be forgivable, understandable, identifiable.”
How I Create Fictional Characters
When I’m in the planning phase, I write character biographies. These biographies include place and date of birth, family, genealogy, education, friends, and notable event in their lives prior to the start of the novel.
However, true character development occurs while writing the story. In the process of bringing the plot to life, my characters deepen. They transform from ideas into real people.
Some authors will “interview” their characters. I have never done this, but it might be an idea for a future blog post. What do you think?
Anything in my process surprise you?