No one is perfect. When establishing characters, they must be believable, captivating, unique, vivid, lovable or hateful. In fiction – as in life – you want the readers’ experience to go beyond the obvious.
One dimensional characters are flat and boring making for a boring story.
Give your characters meaty biceps or thin shanks. Toss in hemophilia, courage, neuroses, penchants for vegetarianism or anorexia. And play on old grudges. That is how your reader will know who they are. Hurt and disappointments colour what the character thinks and feels. Remember that an abused person will probably react differently in certain situations than someone who had a happy, loving childhood. Your character might have a hidden trauma, a fabulous skill or a deadly secret – something that will make the character come alive. Make your characters diverse and cloaked in shadows of mystery.
The goal is to make your readers feel for your character. The more they care about them, the more emotion they’ll invest in your story. OR the more they hate them the more they will become involved in what they are doing. That is the secret.
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- Introduce him/her early, by name.
- Give readers a look at him/her.
- Give him/her a backstory.
- Make sure he’s/she is human, vulnerable, and flawed.
- But also give him/her classic, potentially heroic qualities.
- Emphasize his/her inner life as well as his/her surface problems.
- Draw upon your own experience in Character Development.
- Basics: name, age, nationality, occupation, social status, income level, family members, skills
- Intellect: mental and personality attitude
- Physical Characteristics: height, weight, race, eye & hair colour, glasses, distinguishing features, mannerisms, habits: (smoking, drinking etc.), style (Elegant, shabby etc.)
- Emotional Characteristics: strengths & weaknesses, introvert or extrovert. How does the character deal with emotions: anger, sadness, conflict, change, loss, death. What motivates, frightens or enlightens the character? Is the character generally polite or rude? Kind or gentle?
“Linda has published sixteen books. She blogs about the publishing world, posts useful tips on the challenges a writer faces, including marketing and promoting your work, how to build your online platform, how to get reviews and how to self-publish.”