Creating Characters: The Basics

Characters are an important aspect to your novel or short story. Characters are the people that keep the plot going, keeps things interesting and they could also be your reader’s best friends as well. You would want your characters to be as detailed as you can so they seem realistic to your readers.

1.  Creating the Skeleton 

This where you create what your characters’ want in the story and how he/she are going to get it. You also need to figure out why does your character(s) want this particular thing(s). This is going to make the readers feel for them. Don’t make the journey easy for your character, put down a few obstacles. This prevents the plot from becoming predictable which makes the story more realistic.

2.  Personality 

Every character in your story should have different personalities from each other if not similar. You don’t want the personalities to be completely the same. They should have a balance of good qualities about them with their bad qualities as well. You don’t want too much of the good qualities and too much of the bad. Treat your characters like human beings as if they are your children. Give them real life problems or issues that stick with them throughout the story such as; anger management, family issues, self-doubt and etc.  Your characters need to have some sort of a struggle in your story. If you have trouble creating personalities and mannerisms, take a look at how your family or friends interact with each other. Personally, I just sit in a public place ( like Starbucks) and watch how people interact with each other while taking some notes. It helps me visualize everything more efficiently in order for my writing to be vivid.

3.  Physical Features 

Here is where you would like to be as descriptive as you can so your character can be memorable to your readers. Your readers may not remember every little aspect of your character’s features, so just focus on a couple of features that will make them seem interesting such as; a deformity, hair color, skin tone, eye color or how tall he/she is.  Don’t overwhelm your reader with twenty features all at once (No one is going to remember all of it). Just give your readers a few physical features at a time. Don’t forget they have other characters to remember too. Give each character a couple of features that makes them stand out and different from each other. For example, your protagonist could have raven black hair and he/she could be as tall as a giant. While your antagonist could have fiery red hair with jade green eyes. Now those examples are quite memorable. The rest of the body features will come soon after that a little bit at a time.

4. Picking a Name 

This should be the last step because picking a simple name that is memorable can be frustrating. You have to find a name that fits nicely with your character. I go though a list of names from my Google searches before I actually pick one for my character. I like to pick names that are easy to pronounce and have a nice meaning behind it that fits my character’s personality such as; strong, beauty, ready for battle or king. Google has plenty of sources for names, so use it to your advantage.

I hope this helps my future writers! Good luck!

-Nansi

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