- Tips for Creating Believable and Compelling Characters
- 1. Start with the basics
- 2. Give your characters flaws
- 3. Show, don’t tell
- 4. Give your characters goals and motivations
- 5. Use dialogue to reveal character
- 6. Create complex relationships
- 7. Allow your characters to change
- 8. Give your characters unique voices
- 9. Use backstory to add depth
- 10. Make your characters memorable
If you’re a fiction writer, you know that your characters are the heart of your story. Without them, your plot may fall flat and your readers may lose interest. But creating believable and compelling characters can be a daunting task. How do you make them feel like real people? How do you make your readers care about them? In this article, we’ll explore some tips and techniques for creating characters that are both believable and compelling.
Tips for Creating Believable and Compelling Characters
1. Start with the basics
Before you start writing, you need to know the basics of your character. What is their name? How old are they? What do they look like? What are their personality traits? What is their backstory? Knowing these basics will help you create a solid foundation for your character.
2. Give your characters flaws
No one is perfect, and your characters shouldn’t be either. Giving your characters flaws makes them more relatable and interesting. Maybe your character is too trusting, or too impulsive. Maybe they have a fear of commitment, or they struggle with addiction. Whatever their flaw is, make sure it affects their decisions and actions throughout the story.
3. Show, don’t tell
One of the biggest mistakes writers make is telling their readers about their characters instead of showing them. Instead of saying “Sara was angry,” show her clenching her fists, grinding her teeth, or storming out of the room. This allows your readers to feel the emotions along with the character, making them more invested in the story.
4. Give your characters goals and motivations
What does your character want? What motivates them to take action? Without clear goals and motivations, your characters may come across as passive or uninteresting. Maybe your character wants to find love, or they want to save their family business. Whatever their goal is, make sure it’s something that drives them forward.
5. Use dialogue to reveal character
Dialogue is a powerful tool for revealing character. The way your characters speak can tell your readers a lot about who they are. Do they have an accent? Do they use slang? Do they speak in a formal or informal manner? Use dialogue to show your characters’ personalities and quirks.
6. Create complex relationships
The relationships between your characters can add depth and complexity to your story. Maybe your protagonist has a complicated relationship with their mother, or they have a best friend who is always getting them into trouble. Make sure these relationships are not one-dimensional. They should have both positive and negative aspects, and they should evolve throughout the story.
7. Allow your characters to change
Just like in real life, your characters should be capable of change. They should grow and evolve throughout the story. Maybe your character starts off as selfish and arrogant, but learns to become more compassionate and selfless. This not only makes for a more interesting character, but it also allows your readers to connect with them on a deeper level.
8. Give your characters unique voices
Each of your characters should have their own unique voice. They should speak and act in a way that is consistent with their personality and background. Maybe your character uses a lot of sarcasm, or they have a habit of interrupting people. Whatever their quirks are, make sure they are consistent throughout the story.
9. Use backstory to add depth
Your characters’ backstories can add depth and complexity to your story. Maybe your character had a traumatic childhood that affects their behavior as an adult. Maybe they had a failed relationship that has left them guarded and wary of love. Use backstory to explain why your characters behave the way they do.
10. Make your characters memorable
Lastly, make sure your characters are memorable. You want your readers to think about them even after they’ve finished reading your story. One way to do this is to give your characters a distinct trait or characteristic that sets them apart from others. Maybe your character always wears a certain type of hat, or they have a unique laugh. Whatever it is, make sure it’s something that sticks in your readers’ minds.
In summary, creating believable and compelling characters is crucial to writing engaging fiction. By starting with the basics, giving your characters flaws, showing instead of telling, giving them clear goals and motivations, using dialogue to reveal character, creating complex relationships, allowing your characters to change, giving them unique voices, using backstory to add depth, and making them memorable, you can create characters that your readers will care about and remember long after they’ve finished reading your story.
- Fiction writing: The act of creating a story or narrative that is not based on factual events or people.
- Characters: The individuals in a story who drive the plot and make decisions that affect the outcome of the story.
- Believable: Able to be accepted as true or real by the reader.
- Compelling: Having a powerful and irresistible effect on the reader that makes them want to keep reading.
- Backstory: The events and experiences that occurred before the story begins that shape a character’s personality, motivations, and behavior.
- Flaws: Imperfections or weaknesses in a character’s personality or behavior that make them more relatable and interesting.
- Goals: What a character wants to achieve or accomplish in the story.
- Motivations: The reasons why a character wants to achieve their goals.
- Dialogue: The conversation between characters in a story that reveals their personality, emotions, and relationships.
- Relationships: The connections and interactions between characters that can impact the plot and create tension or conflict.
- Passive: A character who does not take action or make decisions that drive the plot forward.
- Quirks: Unique or unusual habits, mannerisms, or behaviors that make a character stand out.
- Sarcasm: The use of irony or humor to mock or convey contempt.
- Accent: A way of speaking a language that is characteristic of a particular region or group of people.
- Formal: A way of speaking that is polite, professional, or proper.
- Informal: A way of speaking that is casual, relaxed, or conversational.
- Traumatic: Involving or causing severe emotional distress or harm.
- Selfish: Concerned only with one’s own interests or needs, often at the expense of others.
- Arrogant: Having an exaggerated sense of one’s own importance or abilities.
- Compassionate: Showing kindness, understanding, and empathy for others who are suffering or in need.