Fictional characters have more impact than you think. That’s why it’s important to develop believable characters whom your readers can relate to and remember. Plus, better characters create a loyal readership. Readers will keep coming back for more. You have to step inside another person shoes and think from their perspective, not an easy task, especially if you want the consistent character traits. Green eyes can’t become blue, or the great aunt the character’s sister-in-law.
Like a good hook, a well-developed character can pull the reader through the story. I’ve listed a few tips to aid the avid writer in developing a strong, believable character.
Choose an Appropriate Name:
Generic names like John Smith or Bill Williams, won’t fly. It’s fine for the neighbor, but not the main character. Choose an intriguing name, one with meaning. A fantastic resource for generating a full identity for your character is The Fake Name Generator. Check it out at the Fake Name Generator.
You also want to make sure the name fits the characters personality. You can’t have a suave gentleman by the name of Billy Jakes. No, sir, his name should be Reginald Archibald. Exceptions apply to every rule, but readers expect character names to match the character traits and personality of the character.
Provide each character with a special trait they consistently act on throughout the book or even something they say. Does your character twirl her hair between her fingers? Maybe push his hand through his hair when nervous? Your reader needs a solid anchor so they know who is in the scene. Also, people have habit, like their habits, and will expect the main character to have a habit. People love personal connections with other people and the same applies to fictional characters. If you’re not sure what special trait to bequeath to your character, observe those around you and pick one you feel would be most memorable for the reader and fits your character.
Character traits also provide fantastic action tags to break up dialogue. Tedious dialogue drags down the reader, especially when you keep it with “he said,” “she said,” ‘he yelled,” etc. Action inserts an element of surprise and keep the characters from becoming bobbing heads, but real people. Check out this list for more information on choose the perfect personality for your character.
- Who is your character? What in their life played key roles in developing their personality into who they are today? Plan out your characters history. Answer the following questions:
- Where did they grow up?
- Who were their parents?
- Where did they go to college?
- What were their hobbies?
For more questions to ask about your character, check out this list.
You never know how the information you create about your character will play out in your novel. Events and circumstances happen to everyone, so make sure you think it out and plan a believable character.
Fiction is driven by plot and characters, oftentimes one leads while the other follows. Characters make or break our novels, so let’s spend the appropriate amount of time on plot, structure, but most of all on developing spectacular characters that are readers are sad to leave behind.
I’d love hear from you regarding tips you’ve found useful when developing characters. Or, if you have any funny, family friendly stories to share about characters in real life you’ve seen you could make interesting character traits.