Character creation is one of the hardest things about fiction writing. It’s not so much the creating of a character that’s hard, it’s making them interesting. Anyone can come up with a name and physical details. But it takes a good writer to make a character the readers care about, loathe, love, are disgusted by, or feel any other emotion towards the fictional person.
While there are many ways one can go about creating a compelling character, you don’t really need to over-complicate the process. Some writers will tell you how you must become the character to understand them. That might work for some, but it isn’t necessary. When it comes down to it, all you really need is to follow a good formula. And lucky for you, we have 6 easy tips that’ll have you creating compelling characters in no time.
6. Add Different Dimensions To Your Characters
If your characters are one-dimensional they’ll most likely be very boring to readers. Very few characters can work if they don’t have different facets of who they are. Just like people in real life, your characters should be diverse in their moods, motivations, goals, and desires. In essence, you want your characters to be fascinating.
Fascinating doesn’t necessarily mean unusual, though. Regular people can be just as fascinating as over-the-top weirdos. There have been plenty of examples of this throughout literature. Just look at any story that implements the everyman character. They might seem boring or average at first, but they have enough dimensions to them that readers get sucked into their world. Remember, not everyone is completely good or completely bad. Characters who are 100% one thing are boring. Just look at Superman.
5. Develop A Solid History For Your Characters
You need to fully develop the history of your characters if you want them to have a certain realness to them. You should know just about everything about their backstory before you start writing. Just make sure you leave yourself a little bit of wiggle room in case you come up with different ideas for them after you start.
You don’t always need to create a complete history and bio for your characters, but you should have an idea of their lives and who they are—what they’ve been through. Some writers go as far as to creating a character’s favorite color and band. This might be overkill, but only if it doesn’t help. We all have different styles of writing. So, just do what works for you. Even if that means creating way too much backstory that won’t ultimately make it into the book.
4. Go Beyond The Basic Facts
Developing the characters’ attitude goes a long way in making them compelling. Just like knowing their history, knowing the way they’ll act and respond to things before you start writing will really help the story. Especially when it comes to character growth.
When you create a character’s personal ticks and mannerisms, the readers are better able to relate to them. And the more fleshed out a character is, the easier it will be to show how their personalities might change after you put them through trauma. Always treat each character as an individual. Do not put your own distinct voice and manner of speaking onto every character. They are all different and their own people. Which means they shouldn’t all sound, act, or look like the author. Unless your John Malkovich.
3. Put The Characters In Danger
It’s important to put your characters in situations that’ll make them act and think in ways the readers can relate or sympathize with. The way a character acts in a tough situation says a lot about the kind of person they are. Are they a quick thinker? Do they panic? Are they the type to run and leave their friends behind?
These types of actions will influence how the readers see and think about your characters. You can manipulate them into following the story the way you want them to through this method. For instance, if a hero hesitates slightly before saving someone, that small action speaks volumes to the readers. Is the hero really trustworthy? Are they as heroic as we were led to believe? One thing you should avoid, though, is drastic changes in personality. Like having the hero suddenly turn into a bad guy without warning. That’s just lazy writing.
2. Uncover A Character’s Deeper Motives
How does your main character see the world and what’s their outlook on it? What makes them do the things that they do? Are their reactions to different situations good or bad? These are important questions you need to think about when creating a character and introducing them into your story.
An example of a poorly written character would be the senselessly evil bad guy trope. You know, the bad guy who wants to destroy the world for no reason. No revenge plot, no monetary gain, not even an alien or demonic force taking over their mind. They just want to kill, because. Never create a character like that unless you’re doing satire. Your characters need motivations for their actions. They should be acting and reacting to the story for a reason—a reason that holds great meaning and importance to them. Even if that meaning is something as simple as revenge.
1. Plan Ahead
There are some things that may never make it into your story. But if you plan enough ahead, these elements can help you create more well-rounded characters. This goes back to creating a character’s history, their motivations, and their personality traits. Even if you don’t ever use some of the things you created for them, planning ahead will help keep your characters flowing naturally with the story.
And if you do ever find yourself needing that unused information, you already have it as backup. Which will make it a lot easier than trying to make things up on the fly. There’s nothing worse than forgetting a character’s eye color or nickname and accidentally changing it halfway though the story. Planning ahead and keeping detailed notes on your characters will keep these errors from occurring. And even though you might not want to hear it, creating a basic outline for your story and how your characters fit into it will save you a huge headache during the editing stage. And as writers, we already create enough headaches for ourselves. So, follow these tips to avoid anymore.
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