We are looking for a white male, 6 ft. 4 in., about 340 lbs. who walks with a limp and has one blue eye. Now let’s be honest, there are probably NOT a lot of 340 lb. one blue-eyed people on the planet. White males – yes, 6 ft. 4 in. males – yes, even those who walk with a limp may number more than a few but when you put the entire description together….well there is probably only one guy like that. And do you know why….because that is how the world works.
I have read many a book where the characters are like cardboard cutouts, one dimensional pretend people. The writer tells you nothing about the character, no description, no past, no reason why he/she likes to eat Twinkies in the shower or feels the need to hide when a sales person comes to the front door. You, the reader, get no insight to who the character is. It takes away from the story.
So how do you give your character…well…character? The answers lay in the condition we refer to as human nature. If you want your readers to connect with your characters you have to make those characters real and by real I mean:
- Give them a description – Weight, height, eye color, skin tone…breathe life into your character.
- Make him/her stand out – Does your character have a scar, a tattoo? Something that makes them different from every other person with their general description? Make them special in some way because, truth be told, we are all special in some way.
- Mannerisms – I act differently than my brother and sister. In fact my mom talks a lot these days about the differences between is because it is part of what makes each of her kids different.
These are just a few of the ways that you can give your character, character. Part of what makes a good story is those people who populate it and make it some place your reader either wants to go or introduces them to people they want to meet. Your characters like it or not, are “the” story. Make em memorable and your reader will not only enjoy your story but will demand you tell them another story and that’s what being a writer is all about.
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