Have you ever met someone who seemed…well…cardboardish? You know what I’m talking about, stiff, boring and if they weren’t standing upright you would swear they might not have a pulse. What do you usually do when these folks are around? You leave right? You need to think about that when you are creating your characters.
Despite what non-writers will tell you our characters are real people. They have to be or the whole story isn’t believable. You characters have to ring true and the only way for that to happen is to make them as “real” as possible and to do that you have to give your characters some character.
People are not one-dimensional. In fact most of us have some sort of split personality. I know that I am different with my peers than I am my spouse and my children know an entirely different side of me. This is not to say that all of these personalities don’t bleed together; they do but if I am honest I have many, many sides. People are complicated because there are so many sides to each of us. Your characters have to have this aspect of being as well. Your main character, for instance, has to have “things” that make him/her your main character. They have to be strong and resourceful. They also have to be interesting.
So what can you do to give your characters more character? You can….
- · Give him/her a backstory – Everyone needs history to work off of. Our history is what shapes us.
- · Make sure the personality fits the name – Bob will never be a super hero but Mika will. Think about what you name your characters; it’s important.
- · Give him/her issues – We all have them…those things that we drag around with us. Emotional baggage is very helpful when defining your characters. There has to be a reason why they do what they do.
- · Give him/her a physical trait – When describing folks to other folks we often hear things like, ‘she has a limp’ or ‘he has sleepy looking eyes’. “Real” people often have something that makes them stand out from others. Make your characters memorable by giving them a physical trait that makes them unique.
These are just a few things that you can do to give your characters character. Remember that you want readers to like your characters, relate to them or downright hate them…strong emotional reaction is a good thing. So write a more memorable story by making sure that your characters are as real as it gets.
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