A lot has been written about how to create good characters for a story. So, I’m going to make this guide more of a character creator checklist.
The aim of all best-selling writers is to build characters who are believable. That’s the same whether you want to create characters for a novel, a short story, a screenplay, a TV drama or a movie script. If you include the following elements, you will create strong characters who come alive on the page – even just using a few words!
1. Appearance - their face and features, head shape, hair, build, clothes and style, stance and gait (how they walk).
2. Communication - how they speak, tone of voice, how they use their hands, or greet someone.
3. Loves and hates – do they love tea but hate Coke? Love rain but hate the sun? Do they fear crowds? Why is that?
4. Relationships – who are their friends, who do they love, and who can’t they stand?
5. Experiences – what has shaped their character? Have they gone from poverty to riches? Did they live through a war? Have they suffered loss, or travelled the world? Script writers call all this a ‘back story’.
6. Responses – how does your person respond in different situations and why? Think: emotionally and spiritually as well as physically.
In my 5fingers series of novels, I have created credible teenage characters like Rachel and Lake; rounded adults such as Caleb, Serena and Daniel, and villains such as Kumiko, Benson and Zed. With all of my characters, I’ve tried to develop them deeply, even if they only appear for a short time.
So, watch people closely. Try to base your characters on real people. Ask loads of questions about your characters’ personalities. Put them in different scenarios in your head. And have fun! JRx
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Joshua Raven, novelist. Read about my writing and my life here. And have you discovered 5fingers yet?