Strong, well-rounded and believable characters lie at the very heart of all good fiction. A writer who has mastered the skill of creating convincing characters will not fail to pen a strong novel.
To help you on your way to developing convincing and compelling characters, we’ve created a quick how–to guide. Follow our top tips below to form the characters that will bring your narrative to life.
Where to start:
1) Look to yourself
With first-hand experience of the human condition, you are a great source of inspiration. Use your experiences, self-awareness, empathy and intuition to help guide you with characterisation. If you want to know how a character would act or feel in particular situations, consider how you would yourself. Changing, removing or adding qualities to your character will create a unique character for your novel.
2) Look to others
Take inspiration from family members, friends or anyone else you’ve met to create a diverse cast of characters with different opinions, personalities and behaviours. Take qualities you’ve observed, develop them and mix them up to create a character that works for your narrative. If you are looking to create a character based on someone you know then change names, physical appearance or even where they live to transform them into a whole new character. Again, you can look at adapting, developing or removing qualities entirely to create a diverse cast of characters.
3) Let literature influence you
Read, research and learn how characters can be successfully created and then presented through action, dialogue, internal monologue and physical appearance. Looking at which characters you like, or dislike, in other pieces of fiction can help you develop your own method of making readers empathise with the characters you want them to.
4) Use your imagination
Sometimes the best characters are created from pure imagination. Allow yourself to invent a character and see what they become as you write them into your novel. You may already have an idea, or it may emerge over time, but you’ll find that this is one of the best ways of creating really fascinating characters.
Develop your characters:
5) Create a driving need
Every character, even if they don’t know it, wants something. In giving your character a need, desire, goal or ambition you will create a person who has something to achieve. This drive will create a future for your character and move your narrative along as they attempt to reach it. Along the way they’re likely to come into conflict with other characters with other goals, and this is an excellent way to create tension and generating interest. Exploring why they have these goals is a great way of developing and expanding on your character.
6) Introduce a contradiction
People can be both shy and rude, depressed yet strong, or kind but short-tempered. Humans are deep and complex, so your characters should be too. Contradictions in your characters make them authentic and interesting. Add qualities to make us dislike your characters, as well as like them.
7) Show vulnerability
Nothing connects a reader more with a character than vulnerability. A perfect character is boring so adding flaws and weaknesses allow the reader to connect deeply with the character. We can immediately emotionally connect and sympathise with characters who reveal their vulnerability and it makes us want them to overcome it.
8) Have a secret
By giving characters secrets, you will immediately draw in your reader by offering them your confidence. Creating a character your readers feel intimately connected with allows you to keep them interested in the character’s future. Secrets are also great at driving the narrative forward and allow an insight into why the character is like they are and what they have to lose.
In creating a great character with needs, strengths, weaknesses, contradictions and secrets, you can make your readers genuinely interested in your characters and their future. By creating strong and compelling characters you can seize your reader’s interest and bring your fiction to life.
For further advice, or to find out about our editing, writing and self-publishing services please don’t hesitate to get in touch. Click here to contact us at Memoirs Publishing now.
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