Create Memorable Characters: 5 Tips
One of the most difficult parts of writing any story is trying to build a character that a reader can truly learn to love and hate, often both at the same time. It’s easy enough to send a fictional person through the motions necessary to advance the plot of a story, but to make them seem real is a much more difficult task. To make them real and interesting is what we all aspire to. Here are 5 things that you can do to help make your characters memorable.
Writing out a short bio for yourself to reference and look back on can help you keep your character consistent, and to help you figure out what they would do as they encounter challenges. Consider writing a brief synopsis of your character’s life, including age, mood, habits, likes, dislikes, favorite foods/music/hobbies, fears, flaws and oddities. Write a short story that illustrates the personality, and find an actual image of a person from a magazine or from the internet that you can look at every so often that reminds you of the character. This backstory is not to include in the story itself (unless it fits well), but it is to make sure that you know who your character is so that you can stay consistent throughout.
Make Things Difficult
Having a neat and clean plot line where your character leaps through each scene towards the end with the grace of a ballerina is boring. Your character needs to have struggles, and they have to have flaws. No one wants to read about a character who is just fabulous in every way- it’s not realistic. They can be physical, emotional, moral, or any number of other types of struggle, but what gives characters’ depth is to see how they respond to challenges, and how they overcome their own flaws. Characters should be complex, but not overly complicated, and be sure to be consistent in your character traits. Don’t write that she’s an open book and wears her emotions on her sleeve, and then in the next chapter go on about what a cunning liar she is. Too many contradictions can make your character seem awkward and unrealistic.
See What They DO
It’s not enough to know what your character thinks and says. People are defined by their actions. You can illustrate a person’s character so much better by describing actions instead of thoughts and philosophies. Just make sure that it doesn’t contradict with what the character says, or feels, and if it does, make sure it’s a plot point. Do not try to describe your character simply by running internal monologues from their point of view. Make everyday interactions with people, and make sure that your readers can “observe” your character from the outside.
Surprise Us and Them
One of the best ways to make a character memorable is by having them do something surprising. A turning point in the story can be where a character does something unexpected- not just for us. Make it a moment of growth or change, where the character reaches a milestone, or does something brave when they are usually soft-spoken and timid. Take this element of surprise and turn it into a turning point in the character’s life; something that will set the stage for who they are to become going forward.
Embellish at the End
This doesn’t have to do with the timeline of your story, but the end of your writing process. Make sure that you get the meat and the bones of your character development done, and that your story has come together well. After you’ve gotten all the kinks worked out in the plot and the narrative, then you can go back and add further detail and depth to your character. Find the tiny things that will make your character more real, and splice them in to add an extra nuance to the story.
Jessica Gust is a Marketing Assistant at Localpeek.co.uk– a new postcode finder. She is passionate about new marketing strategies; she is always eager to share her ideas through blogging.