What is your favorite story? Your answer may be based on your favorite character from a certain story, and this is no surprise. In many stories, plays, or novels, how a writer creates a character is what drives and gives reason to a story. So why are characters so important? The answer is simple: characters engage our emotions, and they make us want to keep reading forward. We root for characters, we frown upon them, and we sympathize with them.
If you are a writer, or just writing for fun, you may want to know how to create a character. We are going to outline some of the most helpful and effective ways that you can go about creating and developing the characters in your novel. With these suggestions, you and your story will be well on its way to creating characters that will stick with your audience once the story is over.
Best Types of Characters to Develop
Before we get into how to create a character and develop them in your story, let’s first take a look at the seven different types of characters that can build and help establish your story.
- Protagonist: The protagonist of the story has the goal to drive and transform the story and is usually at the central point.
- Antagonist: The antagonist has the goal of driving conflict and pushing the protagonist towards their ultimate transformation.
- Foil: A foil is a character that possesses qualities that contrast with another character.
- Guardian: The guardian is someone who opposes the protagonist’s opinions and ideas when they want to change them.
- Mentor: A mentor is the character in the story that will assist the protagonist in reaching their goal of transformation.
- Minion: The minion is a character who complements the major characters and helps to move the plot events forward.
- Ficelle: This character helps you avoid any info dumps, but has to potential to create problems.
How to Create A Character
Creating your character in a story means to give them a persona and personality that can easily develop overtime during the story. You will want to do this in a way to keep the reader hooked and interested in the character. Here are some surefire ways to help you create a character that your audience is going to connect with.
Have them be amazing at something: Your character will need a certain trait or skill that will make readers admire them. However, this does not have to be anything over-the-top or in line with superhero powers. Simply, your character should have a characteristic that helps to define them and their personality that they can work to develop overtime throughout the story. This can be anything from great humor to a tendency to solve crimes with complex clues.
Have them be compassionate: A character will be more likable if they have a personality that shows that they care more about someone or something other than themselves. This can be useful early on in the story to help the audience identify and connect with a character to keep them interested in their development. The name for this is a “save the cat” scene. If you show readers that your character cares, they will care as well.
Switch up roles: A great way to make you character interesting throughout the story is to have your “good” characters do “bad” things, and “bad” characters do “good” things. This will definitely keep the audience at the edge of their seats and amused at this switch in development.
Have them develop a voice: You do not want all of your characters to sound the same in a book, and the best way to do this is to give each their own style and unique way of talking. That way, readers can easily identify which character is talking and be able to familiarize themselves with a certain characters personality throughout the story.
Create a back story: You do not want your audience to feel like a character only exists in the story and that book alone. To give your character more dimensions, have your character come with a back story to show that they have a life and existence other than what is apparent to the reader. This will make them seem much more interesting and have the audience asking questions and trying to connect the dots. Your goal as a writer in character development is to get your audience to believe that there is depth below the water when it comes to your character.
Know what makes them tick: Everyone person has something that makes them react unfavorably. By creating a back story for your character, you will be able to show your audience a different side of them at certain points in your story. The more that the audience knows about a character’s past, the more they will know how a character might react in the present.
Give them an attitude: A character’s personality has a lot to do with how they react to certain situations. Dull and boring characters are ones that go along with everything that happens and have no opinion. There are plenty of ways to dress up your character’s personality with characteristics. For example, they can be: chivalrous, attention-seeking, introverted, depressed, or untrusting. A good question to ask yourself for this development is: how does this character treat others? And, are they treated by others in the book?
Know their fears and wants: We all have wants and fears, and these are the things that drive us and our actions. With your characters, their dreams, hopes, and fears is where the story is going to take place. Generally, during the development of a character, writers will have them confront certain fears threat will enable them to reach their goals.
Appearance: It might be easy just to think up your character’s appearance and how you want them to look to the readers. A good way to create a character’s appearance is by tapping into their personality and letting their appearance speak to their character. Give consideration to the way that your characters are going to react based on their appearances as well.
Add surprises: A great way to keep your audience on their toes and interested is to have your characters surprise you and the readers. This can be anything from your characters having a change of heart, or showing them in a different light. Think about some interesting stories and characters that blew you away because they did something that you would not have expected from them otherwise.
Are you thinking about writing for children? Here’s a great course on developing great children’s stories.
Some Final Tips
Before you begin creating and developing your own character, here are a few things to keep in mind for the road!
- Remember to have your characters interact with each other—this will make them seem more realistic. Good dialogue will also help to demonstrate a lot about a character’s personality.
- Allow your characters to have inner monologue and let them contradict themselves, because these are things that happen with people on a daily basis.
- Remember that you can always have more than one type of character, such as two protagonists or antagonists. However, be sure that you make one more important than the other.
- Remember to try not to include too many minor or irrelevant details. Make sure what you choose to tell about your characters will serve a purpose for the rest of the story.
Make Your Characters Count
We rely on characters to make our stories complete, so the process of creating and developing a unique and interesting character is important to your finished product. Most anyone can rattle off a list of their favorite characters, so now is your chance to create characters that will give anyone a reason to read your story.