When we choose a book most times we come for the plot and stay for the characters (or at least that’s my opinion). Recently I downloaded a free ebook on amazon because I read the plot summary and I thought it would be a good read…but a few pages later I realized the main character was annoying and I immediately deleted it.
Well developed characters are just as important as a good plot. The plot keeps the story moving but the characters keep the reader interested. Your job as the writer is to create characters who are independent human beings and not simply people who exist to fill a role in your novel. So it’s important to spend time creating compelling and 3-dimensional major characters; your minor characters can be cliche and 2-dimensional. So how do you as a beginner create such characters (or confirm that you’ve created such characters? Here are some ways to create compelling characters:
Give your characters a strong desire. A desire, a want, a need; they all create conflict. Don’t just make the character move along in the story just because. Give him/her/it some drive and motivation. The characters needs/wants something and now must go out to get that thing. The stronger the desire, the more conflict and drama that comes from it. And as you know conflict is a major key
Give your character a secret. A secret personality or a secret past that slowly reveals over time will keep everyone interested in your character and will make for an interesting plot twist along the way. Once revealed that secret may change how that character is viewed forever. Also it gives the character yet another source of motivation
Make them vulnerable. People are drawn to vulnerability and it’s a very human trait. Make your characters vulnerable either because of their desire or their secret and it will draw in the readers
Make them contradicting. Some people are contradicting in their behavior e.g someone who is shy but still rude. It gives the element of surprise because you never know how they will react in a situation and thus keeps the reader interested
Allow readers to feel empathy for your characters. Make them suffer (cue evil laugh), don’t make the villain bad just because and don’t make your good guys perfect. Readers need to be able to relate your characters even if they don’t like them
Draw from real life. We know so many people in real life that can act as inspiration for a realistic character; a best friend, a neighbor or a favorite teacher. Watch these people see how they react in situations and how they express emotions and you’ll get a sense of real people act in different situations
To conclude characters are as important to your story as plot. Compelling characters keep the readers interested and help propel the story (sometimes in ways you didn’t even see when crafting the plot). I intend to use the tips I’ve outlined when creating my characters.
Most times when I searched for how to create a character all I got were worksheets that made me feel like I was just answering a form as best as I could instead of actually getting to know my characters. This website had the best way to help get to know your characters.
Until next time, remember to work on that book!