I have been falling in love with characters for as long as I can remember. While there are many that I fantasize about meeting, there are a few that I absolutely hate. This doesn’t mean they aren’t well-developed characters. I believe it’s those characters that we take no interest in that authors should worry about. In my opinion, if I don’t care about a certain character, they haven’t been developed enough for me to get to know them. It’s for this reason that I decided to write this article. I want to help authors/writers create characters that people care about.
Characters are a huge part of your story. They need to be relatable and realistic. This means that you’re going to have to do some research into your characters so that you can make sure you write them as accurately as possible. I know this sounds so blatantly obvious and it really is, but sometimes people don’t realize just how difficult it is to create well-rounded characters. So, here’s how I go about it.
- Basic Information
This one is pretty obvious. You’re going to need to know the character’s basic info. This means knowing their name, date of birth, height, weight, eye color, skin color, hair color, occupation, parents, siblings, and heritage. These are all very basic things that a writer needs to know about the person they are writing about. Otherwise, how could you possibly give a physical description of them? Or really even begin to get to know them?
Once you’ve got your basic info written down, it’s time to dig a little deeper. This is the part of the process where we figure out the character’s hobbies, religion, likes and dislikes, strengths and weaknesses, wants, issues/problems, hopes and dreams, goals for the near or distant future or both, and any personality flaws/quirks/mannerisms. These things are what is going to really bring the character to life. Just make sure that your character does have flaws. No one is perfect and those who are aren’t believable.
Now that you’ve done some digging on your character, sit down and interview them. There are a couple different ways you can do this. The first way is to quiz them about all their basic info as well as information you may have figured out during your research. This doesn’t necessarily give you new information, but it does help you solidify the information you already have and see if it all fits together. The second way is to interview them with get-to-know-you or ice-breaker questions. I LOVE doing this. It’s the best way to get to know how my character interacts in a social setting and give me great insight into how they speak (This is useful when creating dialogue and character actions). I like to use a couple of different interview questions, so I will post links to those here and here. Though don’t feel like you have to use these. Find or create your own and just have fun!
- Get Perspective
Last, but certainly not least, you need to get perspective. Find out what the story is from this character’s point of view. Even if you aren’t writing from their POV, it can still be helpful in being able to truly grasp what their motivation is in all this. Why are they doing what they’re doing? This is huge. People don’t just do things. In fact, everyone I know has a purpose for making the decisions they’ve made about their education, career, car they bought, lipstick they wore, person they’re dating, etc. The list goes on. So, if you want realistic, relatable characters, make sure they know why they’re there. If they don’t know, neither will your readers.
I personally like to do this for each of my characters so that I can get to know them all, but I know some people who choose to only do this for characters who may play a little larger role in the story. Totally up to you. You never know when the most random tidbit of information will become useful within your story.
If you have any more questions about creating characters that people care about or have any suggestions to add, please comment below! I’m not perfect and could always use some great advice from other writers!
Thanks for reading.