By: Miranda Poulson
There are many important factors that go into writing a story. Unfortunately for many writers (myself included), we become so focused on the storyline that our characters get kicked to the side. We forget that without quality characters, a story can’t live up to its potential. Here are some ways to make sure your characters get the recognition they deserve.
Make their physical descriptions memorable.
Are their eyes too close together? Do they slouch? Give your readers a description to latch on to. Think of Harry Potter’s lightning scar, or Hermione’s bushy, unruly hair. It’s these details that set characters apart and make them memorable.
Make them well-rounded.
“When writing a novel a writer should create living people; people, not characters. A character is a caricature.” – Ernest Hemingway
In your story, your characters are people. They’re human (probably), like you and me. Give them flaws. Make your hero do something bad. Give your villain a soft side. No one is wholly good or evil. Some internal conflict can really bring this out in a character.
Know them inside and out.
This goes for every character in your piece. Every hero, villain, child, and mailman that enters your story. The easiest way to do this is to create a questionnaire or character sheet. If you don’t want to create one, a simple search will pull up hundreds of blank questionnaires, such as this one from Writers Write.
Typically, I like to “interview” my characters. I pull out a questionnaire I’ve created and written the responses exactly like my character would answer. This helps me get inside their head.
Observe people around you.
One of the best ways to capture a personality is to people-watch. How do they talk? How do they move? What ticks do they have? Study what makes them different than the person next to them. Use these in your writing. Try and base a character off of someone you observed.
Well-crafted characters are essential to a good story, and now, you (hopefully) have a better understanding of how to craft one. Once you have all your characters mapped out and interrogated, your story will take off!