A writer can have the best idea in the world for a story and then just ruin it with bland and forgettable characters — don’t be that writer! Your characters are keystone parts of your fiction and should be well-rounded, believable, and relatable. By following the four tips in this post, you’ll be well on your way to creating characters your readers will fall in love with!
Your characters need goals!
Ask yourself what motivates them. Are they driven by a pursuit for power or the desire to protect the ones they love? Almost everyone in the world today has some sort of driving force inside them; whether it is to take care of their family, to advance in their career, or to perfect their Monster Hunter techniques. This is something that can make your character unique and relatable to your readers. Giving your character a goal can also help define their personality — will they do anything to achieve their goal or are they willing to postpone or give it up to help someone else?
What is your character’s dynamic between other characters and their environment?
This is also something that can be unique depending on each character. This can be something as simple as placing someone from India or Japan in San Francisco or Los Angeles — how would they stand out, how would they adapt? Mix extrovert characters with introverts to create conflict and to help highlight their differences. How would your character react to a mugging or a date gone wrong? Is it different from their friends? A very important note is that you shouldn’t be afraid to make your main character flawed. Real life people are perfect so your characters shouldn’t be either.
Stay away from stereotypes!
Also, on that note, don’t fill your writing with Mary Sues or a Gary Stu (whatever the male version would be.) It’s not realistic to have a character that is loved by everyone or who is perfect in every way, and not only is it not realistic but it’s annoying to read. Same with stereotypes. No one wants to read about those kinds of characters. Just don’t.
Show, don’t tell.
When it comes to your character’s motivations, this is important. Don’t just tell us Bobby hates his step-mother, show us by having him put a tack in her shoe. This really applies to all writing, whereas you should illustrate by showing the reader through actions and scenes rather than just telling them what they should now know.
What does your character think of the others?
One man’s treasure is another man’s annoying cousin who he can’t stand but seems to always show up at the family reunions. By allowing us entry into your character’s inner dialogue, you can show us how they feel about other characters, which can be an insight into the protagonist’s personality. Your main character may hate a certain person and think them a coward but through another character’s eyes, the person may just be timid or shy. This is great way to compare and contract characters by showing how they act towards someone else.