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  • How to Create and Understand Your Characters

    Developing characters is one of the very first things you should do to even have a solid storyline. Your story is brought to life by the characters you create and what you to express to your readers are conveyed through your characters. Now, many writers and authors have shared with me the difficulties and concerns they face when they sit down to create characters for their book. I say it is simple. You just have to assign a name, an occupation, and work on some of his or her demographic details and your character is ready.

    Is that It?

    It’s definitely not. I’d be a fool if I said that’s all it takes to create characters for your book. The name, occupation, and other details of your character indicate a character’s identity; but if you want your readers to know who he or she is, you have to characterize and give a personality to your character. And here, we’ll give show you how you can come up with effective characters for your book.

    Tips to Create Characters for your Book:

    Be Open

    When you sit down to create your character, you are god. You have all the liberty in the world to sketch the way your characters look and think. Don’t be in a hurry to finish the process of creating characters for your book. Take your time and add details. Try giving a personality to your characters and see if that would affect and unfold the story in the way you want it to. If that doesn’t work, try swapping traits among characters. Also, get inspiration from someone you know and try fictionalizing their character (not their life). You should also remember that the more you try to make a character unique, the less the character will appeal to readers (unless you’re creating a superhero). People we come across are ordinary souls who fall, get bruised, struggle, and strive to achieve things. Your character should resemble an average human being to whom readers can relate to.

    Give your Characters a Purpose and a History

    You don’t have to reveal the purpose and history of each of your characters in your book. But make sure you know the history of your characters such as something traumatic that happened in their life, an event that changed their approach toward life, and the likes. For instance, justify why a serial killer actually became a serial killer. Giving your characters a history will allow you to deduce how they would react and respond to certain situations and giving them a purpose would help you know their intentions, which would ultimately unfold your story further.

    Ponder over your Characters’ Looks and Personality

    This is not essential for all the characters in your book except for the main ones. You should ponder over your characters’ looks and personality and know them in and out. Think of the hairstyle your characters would sport. Does one of your main characters like to be fashionable? Is your protagonist bold and outgoing or timid and shy? Does your female protagonist cry at the bite of a nail or is she stubborn as a rock? Make a chart listing out the characters in your book and create columns like traits, looks, relationships, and the likes. Write your characters’ names and add necessary details under each. This is your cheat-sheet till you finish your book and any decision that you take (your character, to be precise) should be based on this.

    Give your Characters a Conflict, an Imperfection

    No body wants to read about the life and times of someone who is perfect. We all have shortcomings and relate to it easily. Your characters should be imperfect as well. Their inability to do certain things should linger in the minds of your readers and make them feel sympathetic. That should make your character last in the minds of your readers for long. It can also work the other way around. Sometimes, it is the villains who make a lasting impact among readers than protagonists. You can also make your character to be disliked by attributing him with all the qualities you hate to see in someone. The more the readers hate a character, the more they will talk about it.

    Some Tidbits
    • While naming characters, make sure readers can pronounce their names. Restricting names to disyllabic words would help.
    • Do not add layers of traits or personalities to your characters. They’ll stumble, and so will you.
    • You don’t have to add too many details about your characters. You’ll divert from your story.
    • Write dialogues depending on how they would think and not how you would.
    • Your characters need not look good always. It is the imperfections that captivate readers.

    Working on characters becomes easier when you use the snowflake method; where you work separately on the qualities and characteristics of each character from scratch. Check out the post here.

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