Characters are one of the most important aspects of a novel. You can’t have a great story without a great cast of characters.
But what does a character entail? A personality, physical description, motive, likeness, relatability, and so much more.
A lot goes into being a character, but how do you make the type of character that readers wish were real? That readers want to know about, want to be their friends, that never want to forget them?
Think of your character as your best friend.
No, I’m not saying you should base your protagonist off of your real life best friend. Our books are our babies, which means our characters are just one personality trait our books have. We want to make it a good one. And, as our book grows and matures, we want our characters to make a good first impression on our readers.
(That analogy escalated quickly…)
Anyway, when creating a character, you should ask yourself certain questions:
- What qualities would I look for in a friend?
- What kind of personality would I want to hang around with all the time?
- Is this the type of person I would love to be friends with? Or I would love to hate?
Our main goal is to create a likeable protagonist, right? So, I said again, think of your character as your best friend.
You want to go on a journey with this person, you want to hear about their day, know about every detail of their life. Well, maybe not every detail.
Getting to know your character.
There are two ways to get to know your characters: speed dating–plan them out–or take it slow–let them take their life into their own hands.
You can give your character full life and breath before you even begin writing. This is done through interviews and character charts.
Become one with your character and interview them. Ask them about their home life, ask them what they would do in certain situations, ask them what they want to accomplish.
Or, you can fill out a character chart, which is a bit more in-depth. Ask yourself, what’s their hair and eye color? What are their favorite things? Who are they related to? Do they have a job? What about hobbies?
Then, when all that is said and done, ask yourself one more question: Is any of this information needed for the story?
Take it slow
Whether you outline your novels or not, you always have some sort of basic idea of what you want to accomplish in the story, the plot.
Often times, your characters take things a different way. You may begin writing with a certain idea of how you want your character to act and behave, but then they do something out of left field and surprise you.
So, you don’t have to map our your characters. Not completely, anyway. They know what they want.
But what does this mean for your novel, for your readers? You have your character flushed out, sure, but why would your character’s favorite color matter to your readers?
Make the character believable
It seems easy, but it’s actually pretty easy to create flat, bland characters. So, how do you achieve this?
Make them stand out from the crowd.
Give them a unique voice. Give them some special traits and tasks from the rest of the characters. Allow the readers to point the protagonist out and understand that the story is about them.
Give them flaws.
No one is perfect in real life and neither are fictional characters. If you had a protagonist with no weaknesses, then there would be a short, boring story. The conflict would be resolved before it even began.
Give them inner conflict.
The external conflict is the plot, everyone is freaking out about that issue. But, your character has something else going on, inner demons that are bothering him. Show that, let your readers feel that inner conflict. Let your readers understand how your character feels.
Give them realistic emotions.
Show how your character feels. We’ve all experienced life and death, the first day of school and work, opening birthday presents, our car breaking down, love and heartbreak, and everything else in between. Let your readers feel their frustration, their happiness, their sadness.
Allow your characters to have some secrets.
Let your readers try to figure out your characters. Let them wonder what makes them tick. We don’t always know why we do what we do. Maybe your characters know why, maybe they don’t, but let your readers ponder on that.
Allow your characters to grow and develop.
Use your character as a lesson for your readers. What did your character learn through their journey? What’s the moral of the story?
Give your characters room to grow with your readers and allow your readers to really care and enjoy following your characters on their journey.
If your readers love and care about the characters, they’ll keep reading the story.
Who are some of your favorite characters? What do you have in mind when you create characters? Let me know in the comments below!