You’ve got a new novel idea in mind, and you can’t seem to think about anything else until the writing process commences. You may even find that you’re struggling to create convincing characters because the plot has begun to overshadow them, and you haven’t given them the chance to tell their side of the story. Creating consistent characters throughout your book is essential because if you want your readers to resonate with what they have to say, they need a reason to keep reading. Have you ever picked up a book and began reading from a particular character’s point of view, and by the time you turn the page, you already feel like you know them? That’s what you’re going for when you’re trying to convince your readers that these characters are worth reading about.
Here are fifteen ways to help you create an incredible character and take your story to the next level.
15 Ways to Create an Incredible Character
1. First Impressions are Everything
How you introduce your character, in the beginning, is probably how your readers are going to remember them as they continue to develop over time. While creating a character who has showcased progress throughout your book is important, using your character’s introduction as a way to hook your readers may leave them wanting more.
2. Don’t Be Afraid to Write Risky Characters
I’ve tried to stay away from this because I always worried about how my readers would perceive my character. Though I’ve realized that it’s the risky characters that encompass the most depth, and they’re usually the ones I love writing about the most. Sometimes, stepping out of our comfort zone for a little while can change the way we write, and we may end up loving the end product much more than we could’ve ever imagined.
3. Put Yourself in Their Shoes
You want your readers to feel everything your character is experiencing, resonate with them, or even question their actions. If you don’t put yourself in your characters’ shoes first, you’ll probably finish the story wondering whether it has the desired effect you set out to create when you started. Let your characters’ experiences consume you, imagine what it’d be like, and you might surprise yourself when you come up with the idea that changes the entire plot.
4. Write a Compelling Backstory
Where did your characters come from? What has shaped them to be who they are today? By writing detailed backstories for your characters, you’ll begin to understand why they are the way they are, and you’ll have a much easier time keeping them consistent throughout the story. (You don’t have to include these backstories in your story if you don’t want to).
5. Decide on Specific Characteristics Tailored to Each Character
When you’re writing your backstory, think about the specific character attributes that make them who they are. How do they act? How would you describe them if you only had the option to choose three traits? Tailor these traits to each character and keep it consistent throughout the plot, so your readers don’t feel like they’re all over the place.
6. Play With Environment
How does your characters’ environment change the way they behave? You may start out writing in a very dark place that mimics the character you’re trying to create, and this may very well change later on. Spend a bit of time setting the scene for your readers so they can feel how this affects your characters.
7. Have Fun With Your Character’s Reactions
How your characters react to other people they come into contact with, their environment, or how they feel about a certain situation gives you a lot of room to play. You can use your characters’ reactions to add depth to the story to keep the readers on their toes as you cleverly unfold the rest of the plot.
8. Use Your Main Character as the Plot Twist
This is something that I’ve been implementing into the current Mystery/Thriller I’m working on. I wanted to craft a character that challenged my writing style, but also one that the readers will get so accustomed to, that when they realize the truth, they won’t see the plot twist coming (hopefully).
9. Alter Your Character Perspectives
For a long time, I only wrote stories from a first-person point of view, but now I’ve been branching out into giving my other characters the chance to tell their side of the story. I want the reader to get an in-depth look at how these characters think and what matters to them as they ride out the rest of the plot.
10. Create Steady Character Progression
Don’t have your characters’ personalities jumping all over the place. Who they are and the way they react can change over time, but the key here is not to have them wake up one day and be a completely different person. You want to show that change throughout a few chapters, and it will certainly intensify the overall story.
11. Your Character’s Appearance Matters
Sometimes, we forget to write about what our characters look like. Their appearance can help to set the scene for your readers because they want to have a clear picture of who they’re envisioning as they join your characters on their journey.
12. Let Your Characters Do the Talking
Dialogue is an incredibly important tool when it comes to crafting incredible characters. Your readers have to be able to differentiate between your different characters, and this is made easier by taking into account the attributes you gave them earlier.
13. Let Your Readers in on a Secret Your Main Character Doesn’t Know
When you’re altering perspectives, you can certainly give one of your characters a secret that will change your main character’s life over time, especially if they didn’t see it coming. However, the most important thing to remember here is that your plot twists have to make sense in the grand scheme of the story. Your readers have to be able to see consistency, especially if they backtrack to start spotting out the loopholes.
14. Create Dramatic Value in Your Characters’ Lives
What are your characters fighting for? Think about what your favorite actors and actresses display on the screen of an incredible movie. How does that dramatic value add to the overall plot? Applying this concept to your character development can help you to create an engaging story. Your readers want something exciting to clutch on, so give them something they’re going to be thinking about even after they reach the end of the story.
15. End With a Bang
A great way to tie your loose ends at the end of your story is to show how much your characters have changed. By creating an ending that leaves your readers satisfied, but still wanting more, you’ve officially done an excellent job. A lot of the most notable characters that have impacted my writing I still think about from time to time even though I haven’t read about them in ages. You want your characters to have a lasting effect on your readers, and ending with a bang is precisely how you’re going to do it.
I hope these tips for character development help you create wonderful characters!
Thank you for taking the time to read this post! Let’s stay in touch.
Anisa Nasir is a freelance writer and aspiring novelist. She lives in Toronto, Canada with her husband and family. She’s the writer behind As She Writes.
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