Writing Interesting Characters



I see lots of posts about how to make a character interesting and not just a cardboard cut out. That’s a tricky question to answer because there’s many ways to do that.

Dialogue is one thing in a writer’s arsenal to accomplish the task. How does he or she speak to others and is the clean or potty mouthed? Is there lots of sarcasm? All of them display personality.

Actions are another option. How does she behave? Does she get mad easily? Never upset? Cold as Ice?

Narration can also help you.

Best thing is a combination of all the above. Characters are sums of their parts-just like we are as people, so keep that in mind when creating your characters.


How to know your character is finished



Is another post I’ve read that is interesting. How do you know your character is done? While characterization is important, this question is rather irrelevant. And here’s why:

A character is never complete when a story is written. Is Talia a complete person? No, because she’s always growing. In the first book she’s very condescending towards humans and their immaturity. This comes from what’s happening during the story. Throw in the subplot about something in her past, and you see a character that’s grown.

Now, in the second novel she’s darker and bitter. This comes from something that happens in the first novel, and it carries over. Throw in three years to brood about it and you get a darker, grittier person.

At the start of the third, she’s more positive and somewhat happier because things in the second novel restore her faith in the universe.

And I’m not quite sure how the fourth novel will turn out because each story takes on a life of it’s own…I don’t plan them out.

What is she like? A warrior who has lived many lifetimes and seen things that most people never will. She still deals with the issues faced by an immortal also, which are many.

Now, how does this factor into my post? Here’s how: character’s need to be known by the writer, along with back story, but not all of it needs to be shown to a reader. In fact, everyone’s got a back story and most of its boring as Stephen King would say.

So, how do you work with your character? Well, he or she needs to be able to grow as a person in whatever direction their personality and life takes them. If the writer decides he or she needs to know every single thing about the character, and their life, then the character doesn’t have room to grow because the writer will control everything. This will stunt things completely.

The thing about characters is that they are like us. They need to be able to grow and react in the way that is natural to them, and if the writer takes that away, then they’ve killed the one thing that really makes a book special: who the story is about. Know what I mean?

Don’t try to know everything about your characters. Learn enough to know who they are where they’ve come from, but not enough to stunt their growth. That is when you know your character is complete enough to write.

Happy writing.


How To Make Your Character More Likable




As I cruised the forums, I found a post that’s ongoing about how to make a character likable. It caused me to shake my head. Characters are people. What makes a person likable? Well here goes:

1. Personality

2. Flaws

3. Mindset

4. Actions

These are the same that allow us to differentiate between people we like and those we don’t like. And, in my opinion, we’re all assholes, it’s just whether we get along with them. There’s a great quote on that subject in Die Hard 2: Die Harder:

John McClane: Guess I was wrong about you. You’re not such an asshole after all.

Grant: Oh, you were right. I’m just your kind of asshole.

That sums us up as people. Each of us are arrogant (some more than others), calculating, self-centered, and insecure. It’s those qualities that not only differentiate each of us from others, but it’s also the thing that makes us human.

How many times have you read a novel and found the character to be flat and wooden or a straight up Mary Sue? It really turns you off to the book doesn’t it? That’s because the writer didn’t take time to develop the character and make them real. Now that doesn’t mean you need to give every ounce of back story either. Stephen King had a good quote on that:

“The most important things to remember about back story are that (a) everyone has a history and (b) most of it isn’t very interesting.”
― Stephen KingOn Writing

The best way to make a likable character is to give them some quality that people can relate to. Even the ‘loner’ character can cause the reader to root for him or her. So, to put things in a nutshell, it’s making real, breathing characters. If you have a hard time doing that, than look at the people around you. What makes them who they are? How do they act? What do they believe in?

A likable character comes from another element writers need to do: be observant.

Happy writing.