There are countless books on this planet. But we remember few stories and fewer characters linger in our minds even when we have moved to another book, started delving into another world woven by someone. Bringing characters to life through words is as difficult as finishing the story and as essential as the plot. Therefore, while you should have a neat and solid plot and subplots, you must also create realistic, believable characters. Here are some useful tips that you might find handy while creating a character.
As a writer, you need to observe. The more you observe, the better you have an understanding of the ongoings of contemporary society. Observe places, and especially the people there. Let your gaze wander and take in as much as you can. This will come in handy at some point in your writing because it will help you to make your characters relatable. Try to create a character whom some, if not all readers can relate to at some level.
Make A Character Sketch
While straight-up describing a character’s physical appearance in the story might be too cliché, it is important for you as a writer to jot down their physical appearance(scribbled somewhere in a notebook or maybe a single page in Google docs). Make a character sketch and note down everything. You can use these points:
Physical appearance (hair colour, eye colour, height, age, etc.)
Their present (their current social standing)
Likes and dislikes
Nightmares or traumas (if any)
What makes them happy?
What makes them sad?
Determine which point-of-view you wish to write from. The first-person point of view will make the readers feel more involved with a character’s thought process. However, that can also be achieved by a third person deep point-of-view. Here’s an example:
First-person point of view:
What will I do now? Where will I go? I cannot even ask help from him. I need to think of something and fast.
Third-person deep point of view:
What will she do now? Where will she go? She couldn’t even ask for help from him. She needed to think of something and fast.
You can also use stream-of-consciousness if you want to show the thought process of more than one character.
No two people are the same. Keep that in mind and create nuances for your characters. Analyse the profile you have made and then add small nuances to them like pet peeves, nervous ticks among others. The more you explore and harness this in your writing, the more the characters will become alive. Describe their voices as in whether it’s deep or nasally, or quiet and submissive so that one differs from the other.
Give ‘Em Some Flaws
While we love male protagonists to be hot and handsome, saving the damsel or the female protagonist to be strong and badass, but in real life, even these types of people will have flaws. Therefore, don’t go for the Adonis and Diana on earth kind of description. Give them flaws, physical or emotional, your choice. It can be something that hinders their daily life or maybe brings failure to something they are trying to achieve.
Show Us Their Positive Side
Every good has a speck of evil in them and vice versa. Therefore, you must show the positive side of a character. Make the readers care for that particular character even if he/she is bound to become an antagonist.
Use Active Voice
Allow the readers to delve into the character’s mind, and for this, you should use active voice more than passive. Allow the reader to get an insight of what the character is thinking, what he/she is going through. Active voice helps in achieving that.
Goals And Crisis
As mentioned in the second point under character sketch, it’s important for your characters to have a goal. Even the side characters. But it’s also okay to show them going through a crisis because not everyone knows what they are doing. Some just go with the flow, still meandering through life and going through inner turmoil as to what they should do. A crisis is not unimportant. It can be a building block for the plot or the sub-plot.
Who were the characters before the story began? How did lead his/her life? Did he/she suffer any trauma? The past is always like a lesson for a person, so build a solid backstory that will support the character’s behaviours and deeds in the story.
Appearance Is Deceptive
Don’t go for cliches where a bad guy has to look menacing and the hero has to look dashing. No, go offbeat. Surprise the readers. For instance, did anybody expect Professor Quirrel to be the villain in Harry Potter and The Philosopher’s Stone?
Can You Picture Them?
In order for your readers to have a clear picture of the character in their minds, you need to have a vivid image of that character first. You don’t need to draw for that. But after jotting down their physical features, try to create a visual in your mind and try to imagine if he/she might be the one you will have in mind while writing down your chapters. You can take some extra help for creating portraits of your characters by using an online website named Artbreeder.
I hope this will help you to make your characters breathe on the pages and etch them in the minds and hearts of your readers. Happy Writing!